The iPad Is The World’s First Transmedia Device

Jeff Gomez is not a compelling speaker.

But he has something Big to say.

What a hell of a presentation!

The first five minutes alone put a huge smile on my usually-dour face. It has everything in it!

1) Being an outsider
2) Alienation
3) Poverty
4) Gaming the System
5) Napoleon Hill’s “Seed of an Equivalent Benefit”
6) A chance encounter
7) Being reeled in
8) A life-changing revelation and
9) A life’s purpose discovered!


Watch it first and then see my words after the break.

There was one false note in that presentation and like a pebble trapped in my shoe, it irritated me until I found it, pulled it out, and examined it.

He dismisses hardware delivery devices.

This is a grave mistake when it comes to the iPad.

Because it turns out the iPad is the first true transmedia hardware platform.

I thought back to my own childhood and all of the effluvia I would accumulate from the TV shows I loved.

And I discovered that most of that material could now be created for and sold on the iPad.

Let me take an example most people will be familiar with: the Adam West 1960s Batman series.

There was the TV show. A movie. A 45rpm. Comic books. Trading cards. Captain Action figure costume. Colorform toys. Dinky/Corgi Toys. ViewMaster 3D reels. Puzzles. Cut-out dolls. Aurora models.

To mention just some of it.

All of those — every single one of them — could now be created for and sold on the iPad.

1, 2, 3) TV show/movie/45 rpm: These are simple. It’s what the iTunes Store already does.

Photo source: Cover Browser

4) Comic books: Publishers and creators are very excited about the iPad, for its larger screen makes it friendlier for their products.

Photo source: Photobucket

5) Trading cards: These would be trading cards 2.0. First, they can incorporate motion and sound. Second, they don’t have to use the scarcity model to drive sales (although they could, but don’t do that!). Trading cards were called that because of the scarcity model they were built on. It would be very difficult to collect a complete set. Kids weren’t interested in the scarcity, they wanted them as souvenirs.

Photo source: Captain Action Doll Batman Uniform

6) Captain Action figure: A digital action figure. One that can be costumed and then commanded to perform certain movements. Perhaps these could also borrow from Tamagotchi and other games and communicate via Bluetooth with other figures.

Photo source: Batman Colorforms

7) Colorform toys: A triumph of a child’s imagination over poor tools! These were stick-on vinyl cutouts that could be placed on top a background. It sounds dull but to a child with nothing else, it was very thrilling. This can be done on the iPad: Digital Colorforms. Perhaps they can also incorporate motion and sound too. And additional “cutouts” could also be marketed as extras.

Photo source: Corgi Toys Batmobile

8) Dinky/Corgi Toys: The Batmobile was the greatest Corgi Toy ever. A hunk of solid metal with top-flight manufacturing. But what did we do with it as kids? Played with it. A digital version could be driven down various street scenarios that could be sold as extras. If digital toy makers get together, maybe there could be interoperability between all of these toys too. Put the Captain Action figure in the Batmobile, for example.

Photo source: Batman ViewMaster!!!

9) ViewMaster 3D reels: Why not? 3D is a difficult thing to get right, but ViewMaster managed to put glorious depth into everything. Maybe kids could go to an Apple Store and pick up some free cardboard 3D red/blue glasses for their Digital ViewMaster?

Photo source: Puzzle Me This, Batman!

10) Puzzles: Of the jigsaw variety. These are still popular in the real world. What if each puzzle that was bought and solved could ultimately connect up with other puzzles to form one huge mega-puzzle?

Photo source Batman Bitty Doll Kit

11) Cut-out dolls: This may seem simplistic, but let’s think about different age ranges here. Very young children would have fun dressing up digital dolls.

Photo source

12) Aurora models: Digital models that can be assembled. But beyond that point, enhancements and customizations could be marketed. Don’t just build a model of, say, the Batcave — add more stuff to it, sold extra, of course. Make it your Batcave. Things can be moved around and the kid could also “walk” through it and zoom in and operate things!

I’ve just shown how twelve things that used to exist in the outside world for me as a child can now be brought into the iPad itself.

And this is only the beginning.

There are things to be created I can’t even imagine.

These may seem like cheap spinoffs or just “merchandise,” but for a kid they are all part of the story too. To put it in today’s selfish DMCA lingo, it’s a way for kids to participate in the story without being illegal about it.

The key point about the iPad that differentiates it from a desktop computer is its portability. And it’s distinct from the iPhone because of screen size. As Jobs stated, it becomes an intimate experience.

Who will be inspired by it and become the next Jeff Gomez?

10 responses to “The iPad Is The World’s First Transmedia Device

  1. Fantastically illustrated post. I recently suggested that the iPad could replace Blackboard as a Learning Management System in University – as all the readings/literature/video/audio etc., could be centralised via small applications. It wasn’t well received however, but regardless, transmedia devices will rapidly change the way we interact with content.

    If Blizzard ever release Warcraft on the iPad, the world of IT will stop dead I suspect.

  2. Give the LMS doubters a year. They’ll come to believe. And the iPad will probably be more powerful and cost less too. Win!

  3. Not a compelling speaker? Hey, you try to prattle on about this stuff when right before you go onstage, the conferences organizers tell you, “We’re pressed for time, please cut your 20 minute talk by 5 minutes!” Ha!

    Regarding delivery devices, an interesting dilemma: So many people confuse “transmedia” with media gadgetry ā€” especially in the publishing industry ā€” that I wanted to make it absolutely clear that the concept had to do with big picture narrative and its development process, almost more importantly than the distribution platforms. Those change, story does not. So, after an army of tech heads touted their wares on stage that afternoon, my job as keynote speaker was to give the audience a little perspective.

    I actually whole-heartedly agree with you. A little ways down the road products like the iPad are going to deliver mind-blowing narrative experiences, even more greatly enhanced by the interoperability of multiple applications. We’re actually working projects like this at Starlight Runner right now.

    So pop the pebble from your shoe, Mike, and toss me an action-figure. Soon it’s gonna be time to play!


  4. I almost didn’t watch the video. But I cut that bit out of the post. You did swell. Message trumps delivery every time.

    I guess I should have made it clearer that your talk was a revelation for me in terms of the iPad itself.

    I still can’t get over those opening five minutes. Smiling right now just recalling them. (Sh, don’t tell anyone I smiled again!)

  5. In other words, the iPad is one of many avatars of Alay Kay‘s Dynabook — and hopefully a great one.

  6. Pingback: Painting With Shotguns XXV

  7. This post seems to almost deliberately obscure the point of Gomez’ original presentation while reaching for reasons to rhapsodize about this blog’s titular focus. Understandable.
    You saw your favorite new gadget sidelined as secondary to someone’s discourse and felt compelled to react. I can understand this, but please stay in context.

    The iPad will be another in a series of delivery devices for content. A formidable one, to be sure, but merely one of many conduits for fans to choose from as they consume and participate in a story they find interesting. It is not an end, but a means. One of many.

    All but the first three examples you provide are toys for which you heroically struggle to surmise digital adaptations to formats which the iPad might be useful for. Why? None of them (in their original forms) are conveying stories within the franchise which hadn’t already been told in greater detail. They are the fruit of the tree, not the branches.

    The original Batman tv show, comics, and 1960s movie had nothing to do with each other. There was no canonical relationship between them, except insofar as comics fans believed there was one. None of these elements were part of the same narrative.

    Your reliance upon “digital trading cards” and “digital colorforms” remind me of many of the reasons why I’ve *avoided* online franchise content which adds nothing to my experience. Silly Shockwave, then Flash games cranked out on short notice to fill a marketing pitch. You used the word “effluvia.” I can’t improve on that.

    Yes, those original toys were fun. But what is a “digital Corgi”? A video game? Then call it one. It’s not a toy.

    Gomez spoke about extending the story and involving consumers in that story, not selling merch. The latter is dependent upon the success of the former. To paraphrase an old Twitter meme, when your only tool is an iPad, every problem looks like a reason to tout the iPad as a miraculous solution.

  8. I understand what you mean. My fault for not making my meaning clearer. I’m not in disagreement with him but do think the iPad is due to play a major role in what he spoke about and to ignore it would be dangerous. The iPad will be to mobile what Windows was to the desktop: pervasive. It won’t be “just another device.” It will be THE device.

  9. Hi Mike,

    Interesting post!

    I guess it bothers me that transmedia is still stuck in the ‘graphic novel geeks only’ box.

    There are so many other ways to experience a story, and yes owning a physical toy, going to a play, ARG, clothing, a board game, xbox, – all this stuff is not just merchandising, but points of consumer entry into the wider narrative.

    The idea that one product can be a complete transmedia device, I think begins to limit the architecture of the story world… and isn’t that going against the whole transmedia ethos?

    I’ve seen Jeff speak, and hope to do so again this year. He understands that story is everything – finding innovative and exciting new ways to tell it, is the fun part.

    Cheers for the trip down memory lane, Mike!

    Bat Girl – Rebecca

  10. I don’t like reading book with Kindle or iPad. But I agree that reading comics on iPad may be fun.