iPad Killer App – Disney/Marvel and Commuting?

Daring Fireball recently gave a huge plug to iPhone comics reader application developer Panelfly. Panelfly, on their homepage, has some fantastic prototype screenshots/mockups of their comics reader on an iPad.

This image shows the application on the iPhone versus the new version that Panelfly are building for iPad. The image belows provides all the evidence needed that the iPad will be an awesome comics reader platform. Applications are the secret weapon for the iPad.

Today, multiple newsites, including Appleinsider/MacRumors are reporting that Disney CEO Bob Iger, when asked about the iPad during Disney’s earnings news conference, was extremely bullish on the device.

Iger, according to MacRumors ,

We think it could be a game changer in terms of enabling us to create essentially new forms of content. Obviously it will be a great device to play games on and to watch videos because of the clarity of the screen. But the interactivity that it will allow on a portable device with such a high quality screen is going to enable us to really start developing products that is different than the product that you typically see on an internet connected computer or on a television set. ESPN Score Center which is a great App on the iPhone and provides relatively rudimentary information scores basically suddenly we have an opportunity with a platform we can really make the scores come to life.”

Could Iger be imagining some kind of digital ESPN sportspage delivered to your iPad automatically, programmed with all the content (teams, sports) that interest you? Such a Sportspage woud be updated on the fly whenever new content is made available.

It’s clear the connections between Disney and Apple are extensive, and Disney will work to get as much interactive programming as possible onto the iPad.

So why did this post start with a comics reader application?

Disney, last August, bought Marvel Entertainment including Marvel Comics. If anyone would have had advance knowledge of the iPad, it would have been Iger/Disney. So 4 months before the iPad is officially released, one of Apple’s main content partners purchases arguably the best brand in comics content. There are plenty of other reasons why Disney would buy Marvel and access to the character rights of their catalog (Warner owns DC comics for many of the same reasons), but it’s hard to overlook the connection here. Just like the ESPN SportsPage, a user could subscribe to a number of comic book titles digitially, and those books are automatically would be downloaded to the comics application. Perhaps, Disney/Marvel incentivizes digital comics by releasing titles to the subscriber earlier than the print version. Full motion comics are currently created in Flash which is not supported on the iPad. However, full motion comics could easily be ported to another presentation technology such as Quicktime. Once freed from Flash, full motion comics would be another standout feature of the iPad.

In other iPad news, a couple of Norwegian computer store vendors have stopped taking pre-orders for the iPad because the interest level has been so high. To date it’s only Norway, so it’s hardly a trend. But why Norway? There’s no clear iPad app that makes it more Scandinavian (it’s not blonde). If the news were to extend to other European countries accepting pre-orders, I wonder if one of the bigger users of the device is going to be commuters. Europeans think nothing of traveling 30 minutes on express trains into city centers throughout Europe, and the iPad, for a seated commuter with wireless connectivity could be an ideal device. Light, fast, easy to carry, instant on capability, and better battery life than a laptop, but also able to have a screen big enough for digital newspapers, books, as well as for reviewing documents/emails before a meeting. Most American analysts have tended to focus on how effective the iPad would be as a mobile device for frequent flyers. The same could be true for the much larger populations in Europe, and elsewhere, who rely on commuter rail. Living in Chicago for example, the iPad would be a great device for Metra Rail riders. The iPad, in the morning, would have already downloaded various content updates for digital newspapers and magazines. Additionally, presuming it has Exchange access, it would also download the user’s email and calendar. With 3G enabled, the iPad would receive updates for applications during the 30 minutes a commuter spends on the train.

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