The New Media Experience


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Last week I visited the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and there were by my count 25,000 tablets being displayed (that number might be slight hyperbole). To be honest, I really only checked out a few of them ‘ one or two Androids and this Windows tablet being featured by Intel. The hardware wasn’t really what caught my attention with the 2012 tablets, especially since tablets at this point aren’t really differentiating themselves all that much. What caught my attention was how people were using them, talking about them, the overall capabilities that tablets offer and how they’re shaping our media experience. So that led to this interesting question for you tablet owners out there. What’s your favorite experience on your tablet? Is it reading, playing apps, or watching movies? What if I said that some day in the not too distant future, you’ll have a hard time differentiating those experiences because you’ll be doing all three at the same time? And this isn’t a post about some new tablet that allows for multitasking. I’m talking about tablets redefining our media experience and storytelling as a whole.

Take a look at the ‘CIA: Operation Ajax’? application that’s available for the iPad. It tells the story of a real-life CIA operation in Iran that took place in the 50’s. It is currently classified as an ‘app’? in the iTunes App Store, but is that REALLY what it is? To me, that seems to be much more than an app. On the surface, it’s a graphic novel ‘ not exactly something that you would expect to find in the App Store. But once you look deeper into how you interact with it, it becomes something that is almost indefinable. It takes the passive pieces of literature and cinema and mixes them with the active experience of an application. You become fully-immersed in the story because you’re not only reading it, but touching it, listening to a full score and pulling up interactive content that a traditional media experience doesn’t allow. If you think about it, the concept isn’t even that new. Many book publishers have had cross-device experiences where you can get additional information on a website, and DVD extra features have been around for years. Being able to have the entire experience on one device is just so much more immersive. And while Marvel Comics has an app that has minor animations and the iBookstore has enhanced books, this is the most in-depth experience I’ve seen to date.

So what does this mean? In a nutshell, the opportunity for enhanced content exists. Think about reading a novel with its own soundtrack, with character back-story and short movie clips. Imagine watching a movie on your tablet and instead of playing the ‘where have I seen this guy before’? game, a simple tap of the screen on the actor’s face will bring up an actor bio with IMDB integration. Just think about what this will do for the textbook industry where you’ll someday be able to not only read about dissecting a frog, but also dissect one on your tablet without having to smell the formaldehyde. Kermit rejoice! The capabilities are there to one day ditch the passive media experience and embrace a much richer, fully-immersive media experience. At this point, the only question that remains is whether or not content providers are going to make the investment into this enhanced content.

So what do you think? Would you pay a premium price for the enhanced media experience?

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