The Apple Tablet - rumors and specualtion

I think it’s pretty much a given at this point that Apple’s going to be releasing a tablet. Ars posted an interesting speculation piece about the upcoming device and how it is shaping up to be a Kindle-killer:

Very little about the hardware itself is revealed, except that Reiner expects the device to have a 10.1" display—previous rumors have suggested anywhere from 9.6–10.7"—and that it will not be OLED. Instead, it will most likely use an LTPS LCD display like the one Apple uses for the iPhone.

“Contacts in the US tell us Apple is approaching book publishers with a very attractive proposal for distributing their content,” Reiner said. “Apple will split revenue 30/70 (Apple/publisher); give the same deal to all comers; and not request exclusivity.” Amazon is said to take a “wolfish cut of revenue” of Kindle-formatted ebooks—perhaps as much as half—if Amazon isn’t the exclusive distributor.

Hopefully they can price it reasonably but I’m guessing $800-1000.

My husband is all over this. We recently got the iPhones, and he’s absolutely sold on the utility of the iPhone. I think that if he had the tablet, all he’d ever use outside of his job would be his iPhone, tablet, and netbook.

Apple can be hit and miss when it comes to human interface design, but the iPhone’s touch interface is easily their greatest success. They really knocked that one out of the park, and most of the conventions they have developed would translate well to a tablet.

I wouldn’t hold my breath on reasonable pricing, though. It’s Apple.

Given your price guess and the worse screen (for reading), I don’t see how this competes with the Kindle at all.

because its made by apple! duh! ;)

The Kindle/Nook also have the e-ink screens which I cannot praise enough for readability even in direct sunlight.

In that case … a big pass from me. I love the iPhone and the tablet talk intrigues me, but at that price I’ll buy a low end gaming laptop or something. I know Apple sells premium features at a premium price, but doing the math I get:

Average 10" netbook = $385
Apple markup premium = $385 + 30% = approx $500

Now we have to start talking about what it would do. Is it just a book reader? If so then we have:
Comparative price, Amazon Kindle DX = $489

Is it just a media player and iPhone app style OS? If so then we have to start dinging off the netbook price because technically, those do more. If we’re talking usability like a tablet PC, then yes, we can start adding price to it again. Tablet PC’s can run an average of about $1200 bucks, but then again, they have bigger screens and are full operational OS’s.
I think this is why Apple was muddied on the idea in the first place, they wanted a price premium to make money, but couldn’t match that to price points of comparative offerings. If it’s nothing but an iPhone with a 10" screen, I just don’t see paying $800 for that. Perhaps with OS X, but I just don’t know.

Because a lot of people do a lot of their reading on the Web and are becoming more accustomed to reading books on cell phones. A tablet like this would be perfect for reading Web sites, magazines, PDFs, and e-newspapers – unlike the Kindle which is pretty much a single-purpose device and very clunky at all that other stuff. Plus think of all the other things a tablet would excel at like maps, picture and movie viewing, gaming, recipes, apps, etc.

Don’t discount Apple’s text rendering, either. They do a great job of making text legible even at very tiny sizes on an iTouch/iPhone screen. If the LCD in the tablet has sufficient resolution it will be readable for long periods. Likely with more discomfort than you get with e-ink, but not enough that anyone will really give a care when it does so much other stuff as well.

It may not compete on price, Apple’s not really into that, but it blows away the functionality of a Kindle to such a degree that I can conceive of a lot of people opting for the tablet instead of an e-ink reader.

The only thing I worry about is battery life. My iPod Touch needs constant recharging, but that just speaks to the fact that I use it so much (hardly at all for listening to music, oddly enough).

If it ends up being a large iPod Touch, I’m not interested at all.

  1. The only people buying ebook readers today are rich people who want toys. Price isn’t strictly irrelevant to them, but it’s not the biggest obstacle in the world, either.

  2. Yeah, e-ink blah blah. If you can make it thin and power-efficient enough, a high-quality, high-res LCD is really excellent. I’ve done a lot of e-book reading on my ThinkPad Tablet (1440x1050 in 12" of IPS LCD), and it’s a very nice visual experience, and the color makes some things practical that wouldn’t be on e-ink (like comic books).

  3. The main innovation of the Kindle isn’t its screen – there’ve been other e-ink readers – it’s the integration with the store. Being able to buy books easily on Amazon and have them on the device is the huge, huge advantage of the Kindle over Sony readers or whatever. Nobody else can do that… except Apple, which can just add books into its iTunes Store, and thus seamlessly let you read the same (stupidly heavily DRMed) book on your iPhone, reader/tablet, and PC.

  4. If you can have an e-book reader that not only has a slick touch interface for reading plus also has a top-notch web browser in it plus also a fine email client plus also it can play your music back with a nice UI… well, that’s a lot of advantages to pile up versus “it’s not backlit so is easier on your eyes.”

If Apple really releases e-books in the iTunes Store, the Kindle is doomed, and maybe then we can see some DRM opened up.

As far as the Kindle goes my wife has one and I’ve used it a bit - the screen’s not that great for the money. I think publishers would like there to be another couple of options besides Amazon. Especially if the ebook revenue split info in the article is correct. I know publishers have been putting pressure on Amazon to move away from the $9.99 new releases.

I like how you’re endlessly praising something that may very well not actually exist.

I’d love to think you are right, but who would do the opening up of the DRM? As you pointed out above, Apple loves DRM as much as any big company. Or are you thinking Amazon would un-DRM their stuff in desperation?

My concern would be if the rumours about it using an ARM processor and stripped down OS are true, that would kill a lot of its usability for me if I can’t load up all the same apps as on my other Mac.

Just as long as they don’t start matching the $25 price of hard cover new releases. If I’m going to pay that much, I’d rather get the physical book that I can loan out, or get signed, or give away, or sell.

I’d believe those rumors. I expect the tablet to be a large iPhone/iPod Touch, not a small MacBook.

No kidding. It would crazy like pricing digital copies of games as much as the retail box release… Oh, wait.

That’s the point, though – the Kindle is a single-purpose device. There are many options for someone wants to read on a cellphone (god forbid) or a monitor or a tablet PC. If someone is interested in a Kindle then they want the screen and they want to read. All the other potential functions are irrelevant if the tablet offers a lesser version of the Kindle’s only function. It’s like offering a laptop to someone who wants a watch – it tells the time and so much more! But sometimes you just want a watch.

There is no device in the world which has a paper-size screen, is portable, and has great, touch-enabled book-reading software that integrates with a major store like Amazon or iTunes, other than the Kindle.

When I read on my tablet, I’m reading PDFs, and I’m using hard buttons on the screen. It’s not really like downloading e-books and reading them in a touchy, flicky way.

When I read on my phone, I’m… reading on a phone. It’s small.

A phone-like device, with a tablet-size display, with a Kindle-like store and Apple-like software, would be qualitatively different from the existing options.

No, just speculating like everyone else on the potential of such a device, if done properly. Apple pretty much blew me away with the iPhone/iPod Touch, so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. Their implementation of the tablet could suck for all I know.

No, the point is that reading on a good LCD with decent font rendering isn’t nearly as bad as you’re making it out to be. Other than in direct sunlight, where e-ink really excels over LCDs, there really isn’t that big of a readability gap between the two these days. I have a Kindle, an iPod Touch, and one of the more recent MacBooks and Apple’s font rendering is so much better than Windows’ ClearType that I would be happy to read ebooks on Apple’s hardware.

Kindle is to a book what a good tablet – Apple’s or otherwise – is to a magazine. I read a lot of books, but I spend far more time reading magazines, Web sites, newspapers, comics, and PDFs that a Kindle simply can’t render properly.

There’s also so much potential in terms of the ability to package documents as apps. It would be amazing to have, for example, all the D&D manuals packaged so you could view them full-size, in full color, with interactive charts, graphs, character sheets, maps, etc. I’m not saying Apple is going to bring any of this to the table, but if someone does it would be enough to keep me away from my Kindle pretty much permanently. I don’t mind only having 80-90 percent of the book-reading functionality if it’s bringing that many extra features to the party.

EDIT: Oh, and the only reason I’m excited about an Apple tablet in particular is because of the iPhone phenomenon. Those phones and plans are frickin’ expensive yet they’ve still managed to sell untold millions of them and I think their hardware designers are the only ones around right now that could make a tablet that has that much appeal. I mean, look at Microsoft and the Zune – even when they manage to make something as spectacular as the Zune HD they still can’t touch Apple in the MP3 player arena. An iTablet coupled with the App Store and enough critical mass that everyone is tripping over themselves to develop for it would be phenomenal (not that I think a tablet will sell in the kinds of numbers that the iPhone/iTouch have, but I don’t expect books and apps for it to sell at $.99 price points, either).