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Editor's Choice

The iPad cometh

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 26 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2835
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor, BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}

    Hallelujah, the iPad is among us. Eight weeks after its launch in the US, the iPad is available in nine other countries including the UK. And we’ve even got one in the BMJ’s office, although we didn’t buy it—a colleague won it at a conference. Up until now we’ve had to make do with occasional glimpses of the one in our technology department, which they let us play with if we wash our hands first.

    If you haven’t seen one, it is a thing of beauty: the size, the colour and depth of the images, the tactile screen. I should say straight away that I have no shares in Apple and don’t have an iPhone. But I defy anyone to open the periodic table on the iPad and not coo with delight at the revolving 3D icons.

    Whether people will coo with similar delight when they try to read a magazine on the iPad is another matter. Some reviewers have been harsh about the reading experience, the need to scroll, the clunky navigation, the mindless use of pictures. Because of this, and despite the well orchestrated hype from Apple, the response from publishers has been cautious. While some—such as the New York Times, Time magazine, Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times—have moved straight in with their versions, many more are holding back to see what the early movers do and how users decide to interact with this new beast.

    As for the BMJ, we have decided to take a middle route. Although we won’t be out there for this week’s global launch, we hope to be available on the iPad by the summer. This will give us time to do more than simply replicate either the website or the print journal.

    And this is the joy of the iPad, as many people have said before me (not all of them paid by Apple)—that it has the potential to combine the best of print and online. For the BMJ this means being able to present a weekly bundle of content—which many of you say is more manageable than the continuous flow of content on the web—but with immediate links through to our daily updates and the archive. It also means that the creative effort we put into the print journal can find expression in digital form. Finally, the print BMJ is increasingly a selection for UK readers from a larger body of online information aimed at our growing international audience. Now the iPad offers the potential for a different weekly slice of content targeted at international readers. We can even include the ads.

    Reasons for confidence in the face of much uncertainty include the fact that we are working with the team that produced the BBC’s iPad application, which has been well reviewed, and our draft designs look good, with minimal scrolling and intuitive navigation. If you’d like to comment on the designs and help us to decide on a price, please contact editor David Payne (dpayne{at}


    Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2835


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