Naive as I was, I sent the following e-mail to Steve Jobs back in 2004.
Needless to say, he never wrote back.
Here's a product/service idea I think Apple could pull off pretty decently.
We all hope that one day lots of trees will be spared by switching from paper to a digital alternative. Yet it's not happening. E-book readers crash and burn. People insist on real books and newspapers, and it seems to be an emotional thing.
Or is it? I think it's just that current devices suck. Apple could, once again, show the world how it's done, and make it a hit.
Here's what I think it needs.
(1) A reader (let's call it an iPad for now) needs to resemble a book. It should look non-technical, white, matte, and just beg to be read like a book. (Most of this is a display thing.)
(2) Once iPad resembles a book (breaking users' resistence), people will see incredible benefits. How about "A thousand volumes in your hands?" Readers easily navigate through book collections, take notes, use bookmarks, etc. (Touch-screen technology and on-screen keyboards should be considered. Miniaturization isn't such a big issue here.)
(3) PDF should be to the iPad what MP3 is to the iPod. Transferring these files for immediate access needs to be a breeze. One hidden benefit: users will stop printing long documents that they'd only read once (like software tutorials). People hate reading on computer screens – this should be a hardcopy replacement, not a computer replacement.
(4) Apple has good enough reputation in the contents business to launch an e-bookstore and get large publishers on board. If this catches on, it can be an even bigger cost saver than AAC vs CD. Not to mention periodicals like dailies that face stiff competition from the Web: they could fight back this way. DRM is needed, natch.
(5) You may want to take the computer partly out of the equation. Introduce a small, cheap flash-RAM dongle that retails free of charge as a supplement to books -- or is sold separately. It contains a DRM-protected copy of the book, and it plugs right into the iPad. You can read it while it's plugged (no piracy). Think about buying newspapers at the newsstands like this, on 1" by 1" cards! Quite revolutionary, saving huge printing costs and time.
That's it. If I got you started, I'll gratefully accept donations.
All the best,