Could Apple’s Tablet Be the Next Kindle?

Mock iPod TabletThis week the Apple rumor sites are out of control. They are reporting on a mention of an “Apple Slate” by the executive editor of the New York Times. They say that this mention, in a private meeting, is proof that the device exists and is coming soon.
I find it amazing that bits of data like this are reported as akin to fact. Being a rumor makes it OK to report it as a kind of news. Being technology news makes it OK to be held to a lower standard of what defines news. And being Apple news seems to make it anything goes. I’m sure that the editor knew nothing specific and was merely being hypothetical.
But this did get me thinking about the mythical tablet again. You see, I’ve had a problem with the basic premise of the rumors. If Steve Jobs is spending most of his time on this device then it can’t be just be a big iPod Touch. There’s got to be more to it. After all, the iPhone came out and it wasn’t just a phone with an iPod.
So I have been trying to think about the angle here. What could an Apple Tablet be? Jobs must have an angle.
So here’s a big prediction. Let’s see how close I get:
The Apple Tablet will do for books what the iPod did for music. It will be an eBook reader, but in the same way the iPod Touch is a music player. It will be so much more.
As a matter of fact, if it sounds like the Kindle, I think it will be very much like it. It may even be the next Kindle. Amazon may be in league with Apple here, ready to pass the torch to the new Tablet.
I’ve always been of the mind that Amazon doesn’t care about the Kindle, they care about selling books. The Kindle was simply a way to sell more books. As evidence, look at the iPhone Kindle app — a free app by Amazon. Why would they do that, considering it must have reduced the number of Kindles sold. It is because they just want to sell books. The Kindle was a way for them to lead the industry forward and set some standards.
So one of two things will happen: Jeff Bezos will stand on stage with Steve Jobs during the announcement and proclaim the Apple Tablet to be the successor to to the Kindle. Or, perhaps it will be a little more subtle and the Apple device will simply support the Kindle format and the Kindle will slowly disappear as Amazon lets Apple take over.
So what else will this tablet do beside eBooks? Well, it will let you subscribe to newspapers and magazines as well. You can also read RSS feeds, play music and audiobooks, video, get email, and surf the Web.
How about apps? I predict that there will be a Tablet app store, but it will be separate from the iPhone/iPod Touch app store. After all, those apps are all made for 480×320 screens. I also think that Apple will take much stricter control of this new App store — kind of like they do with pure iPod apps. There will be a variety of Apple-approved apps centered around productivity, business and education.
The Tablet will also let you input data with a stylus, like the PC tablets. That tech is already built into Mac OS X, so it makes sense. It will be a great device for students to be able to take notes — even recording audio synchronized with the notes. You can tap a word or figure that you scribbled and hear the audio recording from that moment in time.
I think it will be heavily marketed toward education, with commitments from text book publishers to provide text books in 2010 in this format.
Wirelessly, the device will have wi-fi, and maybe nothing else. It would be great if it allowed you to bring your own 3G USB device so you could choose your own service, but I’m leaning toward wi-fi only right now.
OK, so there’s my prediction: a supercharged eBook reader that works with Amazon’s Kindle system, plays other media, and does basic email, Web surfing and has a small selection of high-quality apps.

Comments: One Response to “Could Apple’s Tablet Be the Next Kindle?”

    Shyam Bhat
    10/30/09 @ 12:46 am

    we’ve been hearing that since yonks..

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