Analysis: iPad may underwhelm showbiz

11:06 AM PST 01/27/2010 by Daisy Whitney, AP

Tablet might not be the promising device studios expected

SAN FRANCISCO -- After months of hype that reached a fever pitch in the past few weeks, Apple's new iPad is likely to underwhelm executives in Hollywood who had their fingers crossed that the sexy new tablet could be a game changer for film and TV studios.

Instead, the slim gadget that enables the computing functions of a laptop while also incorporating a full-color e-reader offers little that's unique for Hollywood. When it comes to video programming, the iPad, for now, is just another home for buying and watching TV shows and movies through the iTunes store.

At the Yerba Buena Center on Wednesday, Steve Jobs showcased the iPad to hundreds of reporters but did not announce any television or film partnerships that would offer additional content, viewing opportunities or business models for Hollywood on the iPad.

However, the iPad is priced starting at $499, and with that sort of shockingly low cost, it could be widely adopted. After all, Apple has shipped 70 million iPhones and iTouches, underscoring the reach of iPad-esque devices.

If it becomes widely used, the iPad might boost the entertainment business slightly by encouraging more purchases of film and TV programs in the iTunes store. To date, the revenue from iTunes purchases, split at 70-30 favoring the programmer, has been incremental for most programmers.

When the iPad is released in 60 days, consumers will be able to access thousands of TV shows and movies in the iTunes Store as well as any of the 140,000 apps in the app store, including TV-related ones such as USA's "Monk" or Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance."

When Jobs discussed the video capabilities of the device, he highlighted a high-def clip of a surfing dog from YouTube and showed how users can watch and buy TV shows like "Modern Family" and movies like the recent "Star Trek."

"We have movies and TV shows and music videos, so I can go into a TV show like 'Modern Family,' click an episode and watch it," he said, demonstrating how to click on a TV show. He then showed a clip from "Star Trek."

Other features on the iPad include a new app from the New York Times letting iPad users read and flip through the paper in a full-color experience.

In addition, the iPad also is an e-book reader that'll compete with Amazon's market leader Kindle. The iPad bookstore is called "iBooks" and is launching with five of the largest publishing houses, including the Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and HarperCollins. Books are visible on a full-color illustration of a bookshelf.

Jobs said Apple designed the device to handle all the functions of a laptop and smartphone, such as Web browsing, e-mail, watching videos and reading e-books. "It has to be better at these kinds of tasks than a laptop or smartphone otherwise it has no reason for being," he said.
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