I’ve not chimed into the conversation on mobile devices, in part because plenty of people cover that beat and also because smartphones and ebook readers, in my opinion, would not have been all that disruptive to libraries. You see, despite the numerous discrete conveniences delivered by both device types, they don’t significantly change the relationship with the type of content people access via libraries. The iPad does.
Check out the video below from Sports Illustrated to get a glimpse of what’s to come in the next few years. Then, think about tablet devices in a few years when competitors have entered the market, features have been added, publishers have created richer content and prices have dropped. Advertising Age has:
In three years, when the low-end WiFi-powered iPad costs $199, many households will buy three or four of them and just leave them lying around the house. These iPads won’t be “owned” by any one member of the household, the way PCs and cellphones are. They won’t live on desks, the way desktops do, and they won’t be carried everywhere, the way mobile phones are. They’ll just be there, around the house, on tables and counters, the way today’s books, magazines, games and newspapers are, booted up, ready to use.
What will the role of public and academic libraries be in 8 – 10 years when rich, contextual content becomes so portable and widely available?
Update on Feb 11, 2010: Readers may also be interested in this terrific article by Josh Quittner of Fortune Magazine.
Update on Mar 25, 2010: Check out this visually and intellectually beautiful article: Books in the Age of the iPad by Craig Mod.