January 27th. That’s the expected date for the official announcement of Apple’s new tablet-style machine, known as, amongst other things, as the iSlate. A portable integrated touchscreen device the size of a standard monitor.
This is hardly the first touchscreen on the market. But it is Apple. Influenced by the iPhone. And also expected to come pre-loaded with the Longbox comics reading/downloading software.
And just as the iPhone has proved a tricky problem for the CD store, so it is that a successful installation of iSlates across the market could see a large chunk of custom move online, whether legitimately or not. Comics stores are not alone here, newsagents, newstands and bookstores are in a similar boat.
The expected launch is in March. Then we’ll have a version with some of the bugs removed five months later. Then a version with more memory and a better screen. Then one that works underwater or something.
The big question is to what degree will Marvel and DC cooperate with Apple and Longbox. Will we see new content from each publisher, coinciding with its availability in the comics store?
Certainly if Longbox is installed, that’s a potentially new audience for comic publishers to access, and the realisation of long tail economics to the industry.
If they don’t play ball, there’s one other thing to consider. Longbox reads pirated comics as easily as it does legitimate ones…
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