As reported by our sister blog AppleTell, Valve has just released its popular Steam game distribution engine for the Macintosh, and has made the popular game Portal available for free (for both PC and Macintosh) until May 24th.

One of the remarkable things about this launch is that Valve is declaring gamers will automatically have Mac versions available of any game they have already purchased for PC that is also Mac compatible. This is comparable to Baen’s policy of allowing free download of any format of e-book they offer once purchased—and quite the opposite of the major publishers’ insistence that separate formats of their DRM’d e-books constitute separate editions which must be paid for separately.

If you’ve never played Portal, do not miss this opportunity to check it out. As I have said before, Steam is game DRM done right, and should serve as an example to any media interest who wants to make DRM more palatable to consumers. If only e-book publishers could be this sensible.

We’ve reported on Apple’s anti-porn app store policies before. Now more magazines are grumbling about Apple’s “no-nipple” policy, including “‘edgier’ fashion magazines like Dazed & Confused and Vice”.

A D&C insider revealed that the mag’s iPad edition has been nicknamed the Iran edition by the people putting it together, given the parallels between censorship in the Muslim theocracy and the iTunes store.

And yet, Apple still allows Playboy apps on its store. Hmm.

A few days ago, Reflections of a Newsosaur pointed to a couple of interesting surveys concerning the demographic differences between the iPad and the Kindle. A Yahoo study indicated iPad users were twice as likely to be readers of news media as the typical Yahoo visitor, and that the iPad’s audience is weighted toward men aged 30 to 54. An informal Amazon poll of Kindle users suggested that they tended to be older, in their 50s and beyond.

In another entry, Reflections noted that the ten most popular news applications for the iPad only achieved an average rating of 2.8 stars out of 5 in the app store. Blogger Alan D. Mutter went on to run down the list of these applications, explaining what each got wrong or right.

Another piece about iPad purchase demographics came from Fortune, looking at a Morgan Stanley analyst’s report on what devices might have their sales cannibalized by the iPad. She cites a remarkable fall-off in netbook purchasing during January, and a March survey suggesting that 44% of iPad purchasers were buying it instead of a netbook. Other potential victims include notebooks, iPod Touches, e-book readers, desktops, and handheld video games.

However, Ars Technica suggests that the drop-off in netbook sales was more likely caused by market saturation than iPad lust, and suggests it is really too early to tell what overall effect the iPad will end up having.

iPad printing capability is reportedly on the way, said Steve Jobs in one of his trademark laconic e-mails. “It will come,” Jobs said. Of course, Google is also working on its own cloud printing solution for the iPad, as well as other mobile devices.

Another problem the iPad has been having is that it is subject to a number of wifi issues, including problems connecting to wireless routers and a deficiency in the way it handles DHCP leases that has led to some colleges kicking some iPads off their wireless networks. A recent Apple support document notes that a software update addressing these issues will be coming soon. No indication of when, however.

Macrumors points out something interesting about the new iPad commercial, “What is iPad”: it essentially recycles a similar commercial from 20 years back about the Apple Newton. I wonder if Apple is trying to appeal to the hardcore Newton hobbyist crowd, or just being cute? Either way, it’s a pity that they probably won’t approve a Newton emulator for the iPad.


  1. At least you didn’t trot out that old ‘But there are R rated movies, and music with objectional lyrics in the iTunes store so why not the App Store’ chestnut.

    I can think of several reasons why Apple is being so strict with app content given the broad audience they want to appeal to (and not offend) but it would be nice to know what the official reason is (but that is really part of a discussion on App Store app approval transparency and the lack thereof.)

    Magazines like Playboy and Sports Illustrated are in a unique position due to their age and position in popular culture (in the US). Apple giving them ‘Favored Nation’ status isn’t surprising.

    So, iPads appeal to those of us who got into computing at the dawn of the Internet/GUI interface age but Kindles appeal to the punch card (as in pre IBM PC, Apple II, C64, etc) crowd?

  2. The widely-bruited study showing netbook sales dropping (or being ‘killed’ in some headlines) was simply ludicrous: look at the charts, and see that netbook sales actually rose in the periods they referred to. They just didn’t rise by as much, relatively speaking, as they had the year before. It’s all statistics-illiteracy on the part of the reporters. (That, or they are trying to be controversial to pull page views.)

    As for the demographics of iPad buyers, it’s all summed up in two words: ‘early adopters.’ It’s way too early to say, one way or the other. Wait a couple years and see what the demographics look like then. Right now, and to us, it’s mostly of interest to see how the male-leaning early adopter profile does not overlap with the older, female-leaning reader/book buyer profile.

    That suggests that the sales in iBookstore won’t be much of a threat to Kindle and Barnes and Noble for awhile. Next year, the story may change.

    — asotir

  3. @Andy: My guess is that it’s not much to do with technology, but rather that using an e-reader is a quiet activity while using an iPad is a dynamic activity. (Big generalizations there.)
    The iPad commercials show continuous, almost frenetic activity of closing this, opening that, pushing stuff around, etc., and that’s a totally different experience from using an e-reader where it’s just read, read, read, turn page, read, read, read, turn page…

    When I use my NOOK, I find a quiet spot and read—I’m not interested in tweets and Facebook and IMs and watching movies and such. I don’t want rich-media intrusions into my reading experience; I just want to soak up the words.

    And yes, I’m from the punch-card era. The Globe 5081 was a dear friend of mine for about ten years. When I want to use a computer, I’ve got a PC and a NetBook. My e-reader is for reading.

  4. @Doug:
    My guess is that it’s not much to do with technology, but rather that using an e-reader is a quiet activity while using an iPad is a dynamic activity.

    Hmm. I actually find using the iPad as an e-reader analogue to be a static experience (compared to other computing devices I’ve used over the last 20 years.).

    On the iPad it’s a mono-application world. The one app you are using takes over the machine. Okay, some apps (Safari, the assorted magazine and news apps) do have dynamic content but the assorted ebook apps provide that “quiet” activity without the distraction of using a “full featured” desktop/laptop computer.

    Of course, as a long time heavy p-book reader (30+ years at this point 🙂 ), some times I just have to grab something off a shelf and immerse myself in what is still (IMHO) the ultimate delivery vehicle for words. A paper book.

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