We saw Penguin speak about their conception of books-as-apps earlier, but now the publisher has released a beautiful, Apple-like teaser-ad showing their ideas in more detail–and there’s a surprising emphasis on children’s content.
In all our excitement over the iPad’s possibilities for text, multimedia, and gaming, there’s been hardly any consideration of the lucrative children’s market. But the iPad is perfect for kids in a lot of ways–its larger screen is much easier for kids to manipulate than an iPhone or other smartphone, and the full-color screen and fast processor allow for bright, colorful apps with motion, which ebook readers like the Kindle can’t handle. The iPad can act as a picture book, coloring book, audiobook, TV, educational game player, and visual toy–and Penguin’s not going to let that potential pass them by.
Penguin’s demonstration shows the company is dedicated to exploring this category; it opens the video with children’s apps, and then spends more than a third of the video showing them. The children’s apps are the most eye-catching part of the demonstration–we’ve all seen digital travel guides, constellation maps, and whatever kind of trend-hopping community app Vampire Academy thinks it is, but there are hardly any smartphone apps actually designed for kids. That’s partly because the hardware is just designed for adults; it requires a monthly subscription, it uses a tiny screen that requires a significant about of manual dexterity, and it’s easily lost. But a larger tablet is a completely different story, even if it does run a smartphone OS.
The iPad and its forthcoming tablet competition absolutely have the potential to become indispensable tools for children, replacing books with interactive, connected apps. And in the process, kids become indoctrinated with technology, adopting to new interfaces and developments easily due to early exposure to, well, the iPad Spot the Dog app. This is the way the world is moving, with younger and younger kids learning their way around technology, and the tablet may be the most important gadget category of this generation. It only makes sense that Penguin wants to stake its claim on the children’s market.