The first iPad exhibition catalogues and a strategy framework

Today was an iPad filled day for a few of the team.

First, I wake up to find that the Venice Architecture Biennale has launched a ‘free’ iPad catalogue.

Clocking in at over 400MB it isn’t a small download and the user interface is more ‘artful’ than ‘functional’. Still there’s a lot to like about it. There’s far more than just a map and, in fact, the ‘free’ App is actually just a taster as you can buy the ‘full catalogue’ for AU$5.99 as downloadable content from inside the App.

I’d be really interested to hear how much the App is actually used within the Biennale and then how many of the initial downloaders go on to buy the ‘full version’. Certainly there’s the attraction of not having to lug around an enormous catalogue around Venice, but the downside is not having a coffee table book to advertise your architectural social capital when you get back home!

Later in the day several of us attended an iPad Strategy Workshop which was being run by The Insight Exchange as part of the PANPA (Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers Association) conference.

Obviously in the newspaper space the iPad is both a source of hope and terror. When the Flipboard App was shown there was a palpable sense of ‘but they aren’t seeing the advertisements’ around the room. On the other hand there was some fascinating data from the New Zealand Herald and The Australian around the take-up rates, growing in-app subscribers, and in-app advertising engagement that all point to new opportunities for news media. Whether these opportunities can and are seized relies on significant structural and organisational change.

In the workshop and panel discussion there was a common theme that the iPad (and other tablets and mobiles) are the beginning of an inevitable structural coming together of the print and digital divisions of newspaper publishers which have been allowed to operate separately for the past 15 years. I couldn’t help thinking that for museums there is a similar point coming – except that mobile for museums necessitates a coming together of the digital/web teams and the exhibition teams. As Abigail Thomas, Head of Strategic Development at ABC Innovation, emphasised, the real gains of the ABC around mobile have come from the work done to reduce internal ‘channel conflict’.

Ross Dawson, who organised the workshop, distributed the following early beta of an iPad Media Strategy Framework. Take a look as from our perspective in museums, the strategic challenges aren’t all that different.