iPad on the Way

I succumbed to the lure of the iPad 2, and ordered one on the release date (March 11). It has now shipped, a little ahead of the original schedule, from mainland China and is in transit to Lantau Island, Hong Kong. That’s according to the FedEx tracking site, which currently estimates delivery on March 31.

So I anticipate the iPad 2 arriving this Thursday! I say anticipate rather than expect, because it seems that packages can sometimes spend a while on Lantau Island, and other delays are of course possible.

Apps = Web 2.0 + UX – Lots

One of the definitions of Web 2.0 was “the web as platform.” I used to think that was a good thing, and am still inclined to do so, and hence to regret the rise of platform-specific apps.

John Battelle (via Toni) seems to think along the same lines, and to have been prodded to commit his thoughts to paper, or at least to presentation and to pixels. Here’s his slide comparing core values of Web 2.0 from way back in 2004/5 with today’s web and with today’s apps.

When it comes to apps’ popularity, the bottom line is rich user experience. Apps’ UX lead is “so compelling we may be willing to give up all the other principles of Web 2 just to have a great experience.” Who’s this we? Well, it may include me once I get my iPad 2… but I doubt it.

Must… buy… iPad 2

After years of being annoyed by Apple, I find myself at the online store, with an iPad 2 and a smart cover in my shopping cart. Since you ask: 16GB with Wi-Fi, black, engraved; orange.

You might also be asking what I’ve found annoying about Apple. There are three main things: smug, overpriced, closed. The first of those is still there, and is unlikely to go away any time soon.

As for overpriced, $500 doesn’t seem like a lot to pay for such a cool tablet. And there’s free shipping! And free engraving! (At least, right now there is.) And think of the hundreds of dollars I’d be saving by getting the Wi-Fi version, which doesn’t involve a contract with a phone company!

So why haven’t I ordered the thing already? Partly because $500 is still a lot of money, and I can’t claim that I really need an iPad.

Then there’s the closed thing. That’s troubling enough to deserve its own post – or at least, to cause some more soul-searching before I finally rationalize my decision to actually place the order.

Funnels, Donations, NPR, and Apple

National Public Radio offers its radio shows at no charge, and hopes that enough listeners will donate enough money to make it viable. More broadly, NPR offers its content for free, on a variety of platforms including radio, the web, and iPad apps. There is the potential for more platforms to mean more consumers and hence more donations.

NPR has much in common with for-profit freemium services (such as WordPress.com). It can therefore use some of the same analytical tools, such as funnel analysis.

We can think of a funnel with NPR listeners toward the top. Fans of NPR, or of a particular show, are at a lower and narrower part of the funnel. Some of those fans donate; we might think of donations as money emerging from the bottom of the funnel.

What effect will iPad and iPhone apps have on NPR’s funnel? That’s what this 3-minute video is about. If it makes you want to donate to NPR, that’s good. The Changing Way Multimedia Studio is not currently seeking donations, despite this production’s use of crayon and handheld camera. The producer, however, is seeking work in the DC area.

The video illustrates, using the funnel model, an argument I made yesterday: that NPR was rather hasty in getting on the iPad bandwagon. I was prompted to make the video an following an exchange with Beth Kanter. We seem to agree that someone should write a post living up to the title: Apple or Android? Which One is More Nonprofit Friendly?. Neither of us has done it yet.

I’d be interested to see comments (or external posts) on the comparison of Apple and Android for nonprofits, on the use of the funnel model by nonprofits, on Apple’s policy toward nonprofits, or anything else arising from this post/video. Over to you…

NPR: Bitten By Apple?

NPR is a fascinating business. Yes, the word business is appropriate for a nonprofit like NPR. How can it bring in enough money to fund its radio shows and other activities?

This particular post was prompted by a remark about “Apple’s wrongheaded policy of prohibiting donations.” That’s from Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX, writing at Ars Technica. One of the things that PRX does is develop apps for NPR shows such as This American Life (by the way, that last link currently goes, not to a home page, but to a donate page).

Apple’s app policies deny nonprofits access to 1-Click payments: “the most powerful direct-payment platform in the mobile marketplace.” Apple does provide a payment infrastructure, but takes a 30% for itself.

I don’t want to bash Apple. Well, I do, but there are other posts for that.

If there is bashing to be done, at least some of it should be directed at the people at NPR (and PRX?) who rushed headlong to kiss the iPad’s touchscreen: “we’ll be there for you Day 1 with a fully redesigned app and a Web site that’s optimized for the platform.” NPR made it a priority to expend money and other resources on iNPR.

I can see that the iPad audience is a desirable one. We might call them ABCs: affluent, brand-loyal, connected. This audience benefits from iNPR. I hope that NPR benefits as well, in terms of contributions from the ABCs.

But I suspect that most of the benefit goes to Apple. NPR has packaged its content for the iPad, thus improving the already-lauded tablet. Perhaps even more important, NPR’s eagerness to support the iPad, and to be seen to be doing so, is free publicity: something that Apple doesn’t lack, but can always use more of.

Here’s an app promo image. It’s linkjacked from NPR’s tablet page. But it links to NPR’s donate page. If you’ve used iNPR, and haven’t yet donated, please do so. No, I don’t want a cut of your donation.

I found Jake’s editorial via Beth Kanter. Her post has the title Apple or Android? Which One is More Nonprofit Friendly? I think that’s a great title, and a great topic to explore. I don’t think that the post really explores it, though, consisting as it does of little more than an approving pointer to Jake’s article.