Condé Nast says it is already racing to repackage its magazines for Apple's forthcoming tablet, starting with Wired, even while toeing Apple's line that the device doesn't exist. Publishers are clearly betting Steve Jobs can save their business model.
The Apple Tablet has been something of a holy grail for gadget fiends. Now print publishers are enlisting in the cause with just as much fervor. Condé Nast's plan, as described by company execs to Peter Kafka of All Things D: Port Wired to Apple's tablet by mid-2010, followed later by all 17 other titles. By using a special digital format now under development by Adobe — which makes the publishing software that Condé and most other magazine publishers use — Condé also hopes to gain compatibility with tablet and other touch-screen devices made by Hewlett Packard and others.
Jobs should be flattered that such a high-profile publisher is chomping at the bit to get onto his new gizmo. Condé joins New York Times editor Bill Keller in talking up Apple's device; News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch is another recent print-media convert to the tablet religion.
Condé, clearly eager, should keep its enthusiasm in check. The company has closed six magazines and slashed budgets 25 percent at its remaining titles this year, setting off a wave of layoffs. It's doubtful that even Steve Jobs can come up with a silver bullet to rescue businesses that have spent many years squandering past digital opportunities. Especially if the company rushes too quickly and turns out a slapdash tablet product that burns its readers on the format forever.