It’s not even being delivered yet but I bet most of you are already sick of hearing about the Apple iPad. If you are a CSP (Communications Service Provider) you are probably dreading the extra load it is going to put on your mobile network and how you won’t necessarily see an incremental increase in revenue. Think again!

Rather than sitting around navel-gazing operators should be looking at the greatest potential use of  iPad and similar devices and work out how to get onto the curve early. I wrote back in January that I would buy an iPad mainly as a delivery mechanism for my favorite magazines. I have been subscribing to electronic mags for six years now, starting on a Windows powered Tablet notebook and most recently on a Macbook Pro.

My online magazine stand is Zinio and I have a choice of hundreds of full-color glossies from all over the world. I receive an email on the day of publication each month reminding me to download and after a few minutes I am flicking, yes flicking, through the pages. The obvious benefits of convenience, environmental impact and cost-savings (around 30% of the print prices) are over-ridden by the sheer brilliance of double-clicking (or tapping) an advertisement or embedded URL and being transported direct to the source for an in depth analysis and even purchase of the product or service.

But even that pales into insignificance when you see how creative publishers have already become in developing digital magazines specifically for the iPad, combining animation and video directly into the print medium. Take a look at what VIV magazine has created and tell me if you are not bowled over.

VIV Mag Interactive Feature Spread – iPad Demo from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.

The iPad will not only boost flagging magazine circulations but the US Audit Bureau of Circulations said on Tuesday that it has changed its definition of a digital magazine to accommodate the new class of tablet-style devices. This means that publishers can count paid digital subscriptions as part of a magazine’s overall circulation as long as all the same editorial and advertising material is included.

Magazines need the change because they charge for ads based on the size of their so-called rate base, the circulation they guarantee to advertisers. Of course, magazines will only get this circulation boost out of the iPad if they can persuade readers to pay for subscriptions. Few consumer magazines or newspapers have succeeded in getting large numbers of readers to pay for access to Web sites, but subscriptions to brilliant digital mags may be seen differently.

So how does this help the hapless CSP? Hark back to my opening paragraph. By offering subscriptions direct to its user base, the CSP could act as the digital magazine stand.  It has the customer base, the customer’s confidence, the means to bill and the means to deliver the content.  Sounds like the perfect combination for any would-be digital magazine developer. Don’t you agree?