Apple, eBooks and the Media Tablet.

TechCruch’s MG Siegler posted an article interpreting Steve Jobs comments in the New York Times about Apple’s interest in eBook devices. It should be apparent to all from Jobs statements before last week’s Apple music event that Apple has no intention of creating an eBook reader. Only once in recent history has Apple created a single use device, the iPod, for entertainment media. But even the iPod has morphed into a multi-use device, the iPod Touch/iPhone. It would not be in Apple’s interest to build a standalone eBook reader. There are several players in the field already for such hardware. Though garnering lots of press, I wonder as does Jobs just how well they are selling. What Apple would be interested in is selling eBook content through the iTunes store to drive the purchase of a media tablet.

It is a media tablet that is needed for distributing eBook content in the education market, not the standalone reader. Students from elementary through graduate school do not need an additional device to carry around. What they do need is a well-done touchscreen media device capable of performing daily tasks related to their educational pursuits. For most this may mean just a tablet, capable of taking notes in class, reading an eBook, and communicating with their teachers and classmates. The device must be of sufficient size (10″ inch?) to comfortably allow for text entry of notes and playback of most media types. Storage space is not of great concern due to the advances in cloud computing and cheap external drives for archiving files. A few years ago rumors began swirling about Apple’s potential move into the tablet market, and an announcement seems imminent next year. In January of 2008 a patent for a Mac docking station was released. Such a pairing would be ideal for students.

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Mockup of Apple Tablet and Docking Station (Courtesy appletell)

In the meantime, others are testing the touchscreen tablet waters. TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington  promised a special press and user event for last July for his “CrunchPad” media though nothing official has seen the light of day. Netbook maker Asus has made a half-hearted foray into the touchscreen tablet field. But we continue to wait for an elegant solution to bring eBooks to life in a truly useful device. Patience grasshopper …

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About Michael Ritter PhD
Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, science textbook author, educational technology blogger, podcaster, and freelance media consultant.

One Response to Apple, eBooks and the Media Tablet.

  1. Pingback: Apple, eBooks and the Media Tablet. « The Digital Professor « EBooks

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