iPad and Marvel

It seems everyone is talking about Apple’s iPad revealed by Steve Jobs yesterday. Certainly I thought we here at the Mousekingdom Blog should too, after all that might get us an extra visitor or two who google for “iPad” ;-) My only problem: besides the connection between The Walt Disney Company and Steve Jobs I didn’t see any immediate hook for a post – and I did not want to make it too obvious that I was just looking for any reason to write about the iPad by talking about ideas I might have were the worlds of Disney could meet the iPad. So it looked as if I was out of luck … until … along came Newsarama’s Vaneta Rogers who had talked to Ira Rubenstein, executive vice president of Marvel’s Global Digital Media Group, for an article about the world of comics and the iPad … there was my connection between the iPad and the many worlds of Disney – this time in form of MARVEL the comic world giant that Disney had brought into its fold only yesterday … and an interesting connection for that!

When word leaked out of Cupertino about the immanent presentation of the iPad comic publishers and fans both got interested since the expected full color screen seemed perfect for comics sold as e-books. Afterall the e-book-readers currently established on the market are all featuring black and white / grey scale screens which are practically ruling out publishing modern comic books. So one would expect that the iPad as now revealed to public should be greeted with thundering applause and chears from comic fans and publishers. Not only is it featuring a color screen but in addition Apple has announced to open an iBooks store in time for the sales start of the iPad, through which users of the iPad can buy e-books with the same ease as they are already used to from buying music, videos and apps in iTunes.

However, it seems at least Marvel is not that excited about the iPad – at least Rogers cites Ira Rubensteon on Newsarama as saying “I don’t think it’s the be-all, end-all for comic books. I think it’s a good start. It’s definitely something we’re exploring, but it’s not something we’re going to rush right out and do.” Ugh. So why is the Disney subsidiary Marvel currently not jumping right away into the iPad boat to try to generate some extra income?

The answer seems rather simple as he goes on to explain to Rogers: “It’s not going to support our digital comics subscription service as it is. But netbooks do. And they’re cheaper, and they do more. I guess you have to make trade-offs for what you’re going to take. If you look at how much content is on the web that is flash-enabled, like flash games and flash comics, then that’s a disadvantage.”

Ira Rubenstein is referring to Marvel’s current online comic book reader and comes to one of the main complaints that many tech sites have pointed out online: By basing the iPad on the same OS as the iPhone and iTouch and using the same basic software models it excludes any and all Flash support. Unfortunately Flash is a central if not the central element of many modern, interactive websites which therefor can’t be used to full extent on the iPhone (and is to be expected on the iPad). I have to admit that for me this is a serious flaw of the iPad which makes me buying one way less likely (even so it is a cool toy so I might feel very, very tempted once I hold it in my hands). However, one needs to wonder whether it is a prudent business decision. How expensive can it be to get the comics into the iBooks store of Apple? Or in other words: is it going to have a negative impact on Marvel’s other e-book publishing efforts by reducing profits (or forecasted profits) there more than the iBook market allows them to make? As much as I hate the fact of not being able to access Flash based sites as a user, as long as there are enough users who use the iPad anywhere and of whom Marvel could make a profit by selling a product to (in this case: Marvel’s comics for the iPad), why should it make sense to ignore this market? It is not as if Disney is developing a competing product that does support Flash. Luckily it seems that the team at Marvel is thinking along at least similar lines as Ira Rubenstein promises that they will look closely at the iPad.

Check out the full story on Newsarama for more details about Marvel and its reaction to the iPad – including a video of Marvel Comics’ Editor-in Chief Joe Quesada speculating on the potential of the iPad for Marvel filmed at the Planet Hulk event on Jan 14, so prior the the presentation of the iPad! In the meantime I’ll relax a bit and try to come up with some reasoning why I need the iPad … it looks cool … even so I just don’t see yet where I should or would use it …  ;-)

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