Will Apple’s Tablet save books, newspapers and end global warming?
Sheesh. Change the world once (with the personal computer), people expect you to do it again. Change it twice (with the iPod), you’re infallible. Do it three times (the iPhone), some people start to offer prayers and read the entrails of goats for sign of what miracle you’re planning next.
Apple is set to unveil it’s long-awaited and much discussed Tablet e-reading device on Wednesday. Apple acolytes expect it to do for electronic publishing what the iPod did for music: Perfect an already existing technology, bring coherence to a culture/entertainment industry in chaos, and show how to turn a failing market into a thriving e-commerce.
An even bigger miracle: Some rumors say the Tablet may actually be designed to save newspapers and magazines. How cooly ironic would that be? The most innovative major digital electronics corporation riding to the rescue for the imperiled damsel of Old Media?
Will Apple actually perform these wonders? Nobody knows. As Computerworld says, “Apple keeps secrets better than the former Soviet KGB, so nothing is certain until the words spill out of their executives’ mouths.”
That doesn’t stop the Geek World (increasingly indistinguishable from the world at large) from endless speculation, digging up rumors and passing them back and forth like cousins regifting Grandma’s fruitcake.
In fact, blogging about potential Apple products has grown into an industry all its own. I was astounded to hear an NPR interview a few months ago with a blogger who makes a living doing nothing, day after day, except writing up rumors on Apple product development.
As a journalist, let me say: The amount of money that could attract me to such a job does not exist. I’d rather dig ditches. In fact, this is a kind of ditch-digging — the same ditch every day.
We don’t even know what the new gadget will be called. It’s been termed the Apple Tablet in almost all news or blogger coverage for the past year or more, but as Gizmodo.com says, it might also be unveiled as “iSlate” (actually a groovy name, with connotations of one-room school houses and ancient Greek philosophy schools), or iPad (“Oh God help us,” groans Gizmodo).
The Tablet (or whatever it’s called) is expected to be a large format device with a screen as big as 15 inches. Or not. Maybe 7 inches. Or Apple will roll out a 7-incher, and followed, by and by, with a 10-incher.
The Tablet will almost certainly advance e-reader technology, putting the Kindle and similar devices in the shade, in the way the iPhone revolutionized the smart phone. It should be able to run multiple applications simultaneously, and handle multimedia with ease – music, video, gaming, magazines and newspapers, in addition to books.
Apple’s App Store will be a big part of the roll out, NPR says (stating the obvious). So will the iTunes store, where Apple already sells audio books.
How much will it cost? $700. Or maybe $500. Or $2,000. Whatever the initial pricing, it’s a number that’s sure to plummet within the first year. Remember how much an iPhone cost in the beginning? Thank God for those dolts known as “early adopters.”
One calmer voice in the rumor wars, PC World, says “the speculation has started to be reeled in, with the device now sounding more like what it first it sounded like: A giant iPod touch.” Whoo and, uh, hoo?
What do you think? Will the Tablet (or iSlate or iPad) usher in a golden age of e-books, save newspapers and magazines, bring world peace, cure cancer, solve cold fusion, enable the Cubs to win the World Series and teach the world to sing in perfect harmony?