what was missing from the sports illustrated tablet concept // 04 Dec 2009

So on a second watch of the Sports Illustrated tablet concept reel, I was struck by something fundamental: while the content looked great and a magazine interlaced with full-motion content is definitely fun to look at and page through, they completely missed on what could make a device like a tablet so great: a connection. Specifically, a connection to other sports fans.

Si-tablet To be fair, there were two small nods towards community: the ability to share stories you read with your Facebook friends (yawn), and the ability to guess what happens in a sporting event you're watching on TV before it happens. But they struck out* on any real integration of social into what's otherwise a compelling media experience.

  • Look at all those photos and videos of last week's sporting events. How about aggregating fan photos/videos from Flickr or YouTube or Vimeo alongide the professionally produced content?
  • Look at those quickstats on players. How about pulling in a live stream of tweets about that player, and a buzz index of who is being talked about (a la TweetZone)?
  • How about a presence indicator of who else is reading this article right now, with an opportunity to connect with / chat with / connect to those sports fans?
  • Or, shoot, how about just some comments on the article pages?

I know it's completely unfair to bash a promotional concept video for missing features. But as I watched this video the phrase that popped into my head was "multimedia CD-ROM," because for the most part that's what's demo'd here -- in a new format, with a new delivery mechanism.

The tablet form factor could be a revolutionary medium for delivering compelling media experiences. But if publishers like Sports Illustrated view this as just another channel for delivering one-way content, they're going to get knocked out* by the folks who figure out how to combine the best of both worlds -- high-quality editorial content and a compelling social experience.

* Obligatory sports metaphors.