I've said for some time now that the most interesting component of photography's so-called "digital revolution" is not our ability to create images digitally (i.e., Photoshop), but rather the means of distribution of images that are now possible via digital transfer.
We are in the midst of seeing this capability explode even further with the introduction — and now the initial phases of distribution — of a new class of tablet computing devices. First was the iPad, and now we are starting to see a number of Android-based tablets being shipped and gathering user feedback.
Of these, one of the more interesting ones appears to be the ASUS Transformer. The Transformer, like the iPad, is a touchscreen-based portable device ideally suited for the presentation of photographs. Unlike the iPad, however, the Transformer adds the ability to play Flash which opens it up to the world multimedia publishing — and in particular, Adobe PDF documents that include media components. In an earlier post I mentioned how the iPad could easily have been designed specifically to present LensWork. The ASUS Transformer, with its widescreen design and Flash capabilities, could have been easily designed specifically to present LensWork Extended.
It would probably be an exaggeration to say that the iPad is a ubiquitous photographer's tool. We certainly see lots of them around and lot of photographers using them. By itself, it was (and is) an important and popular groundbreaking technology — but a bit expensive and a bit restrictive to satisfy everybody's needs and interests. However, with all these new tablets adding to the excitement of the category, we're starting to see prices come down, features go up, flexibility increase, and most importantly, user experiences influence design and usability. The Transformer is lower priced, with additional features, and an impressive first batch of user reports and thereby seems already to be making waves (unlike the Motorola Xoom) in the emerging tablet market. I'm excited to get my hands on one and see it perform for myself. As both a photographer and as a publisher, I'm very excited and enthusiastic about this emerging technology.
As a publisher in particular, I've been amused by those who predict universal dominance of this technology. It would be far too easy to see this trend and all these new devices as the death of print. It is not; print is not going away. True, print may be struggling a bit to find its new role in the world in which digital distribution will play an increasingly important part. Print distribution of photography will change. It will have no choice. The $100 fine art photography book will find the $10 fine art PDF eBook on a tablet device a formidable competitor. This may not be the death of hardbound books for us photographers, but it is the beginning phases of a publishing and distribution opportunity of unparalleled accessibility for many of us. Ignore this trend at your peril.