200910010250Gizmodo rounds up the latest evidence on whether Apple is actually developing a “tablet” and digs up a pretty compelling case that not only is it underway, but Apple is actively seeking to get print ported over to the device:

Two people related to the NYTimes have separately told me that in June, paper was approached by Apple to talk about putting the paper on a “new device.” The R&D labs have long worked on versions of the paper meant to be navigated without a keyboard or mouse, showing up on Windows tablets and on multiple formats using Adobe Air. The NYTimes, of course, also publishes via their iPhone application. Jobs has, during past keynotes, called the NYTimes the “best newspaper in the world.”

Apple is also talking to textbook publishers, it is said, with a look to moving expensive textbooks to a more portable form. Gizmodo concludes:

Some I’ve talked to believe the initial content will be mere translations of text to tablet form. But while the idea of print on the Tablet is enticing, it’s nothing the Kindle or any E-Ink device couldn’t do. The eventual goal is to have publishers create hybridized content that draws from audio, video and interactive graphics in books, magazines and newspapers, where paper layouts would be static. And with release dates for Microsoft’s Courier set to be quite far away and Kindle stuck with relatively static E-Ink, it appears that Apple is moving towards a pole position in distribution of this next-generation print content. First, it’ll get its feet wet with more basic repurposing of the stuff found on dead trees today.

Obviously, comics and stuff are going to fit in there…somewhere.


  1. I’d be more worried for print in general (and not just comics) in light of the announcement of Microsoft’s fold-out book-format tablet currently going by the name of Courier (it was featured on Attack of the Show within the past week.)

    I know, I know, Mac user are going to recoil in horror at the word Microsoft even though virtually every “strength” of the Mac is based on the fact that it has a small audience.[1] But the PC Vs. Mac argument is really beside the point. Microsoft is developing a book-like fold-out tablet to simulate print reading.

    That’s IMO a necessary factor that tablets require in order for comics to work in the medium. Two pages juxtaposed against each other — reading two pages at a time — cuts the page-turning by half and therefore reduces the tediousness by half. Not to mention that book-format tablets will allow comics to do double-page spreads without the added tediousness of turning the tablet on its side to read it and then turn it back to read the rest of the pages.

    The two-part principle: all comics pages have to be displayed at the same size and tablets are too narrow in portrait width/landscape height to display any comics other than manga, mini-comics, newspaper comic strips and single-panel editorial cartoons in the landscape format of single-screen tablets.

    If/when Amazon or Apple do their own book-format tablets, that’s when reading via the tablets will take off. Single-screen tablets will probably be most useful in professional situations (like how they’re used on CSI: Horatio for writing information down at the scene of the given incident)

    — Rob

    [1] Most demonstrably, in the fact that Mac isn’t so much impervious to viruses as hackers are disinterested in hacking Mac because its market penetration is so small.)

  2. People have been reacting to Gizmodo’s story by going to their own anonymous sources in the tech industry and getting quotes. One such person is Time’s Josh Quittner, whose sources pooh-poohed the Gizmodo story:

    Gizmodo is my favorite gadget blog and its editor, Brian Lam, is one of the best reporter/editors in Techland. But in regards to his story today, according to my sources, his sources are flat-out wrong. Apple has not been meeting with publishers to prepare them for, well, whatever it is they’re doing next.

    Have people at Apple been talking to people from the NY Times? I’d be surprised if they haven’t. They always talk. Apple has excellent relationships with plenty of big media companies. But I’m told Brian incorrectly characterized the conversations that the NYT and other unnamed media have had with Apple.

    Over at the Huffington Post, Fake Steve, of the http://www.fakesteve.net site, isn’t sure what technology is real, and what’s not, but he says the real story isn’t about technology, it’s about hybridized content:

    Friends, we don’t need to bail out newspapers. We need to hasten their demise. Let the weak ones die. Let the strong ones go bankrupt and restructure their business. The Huffington Post can pick up the pieces.

    The good news is, we’re heading toward a period of incredible creativity in news and entertainment, with a new medium that is far superior to ink on paper. The bad news, at least from my perspective, is that I’ll be selling a piece of hardware whose success depends on whether the content guys can dream up cool new things to do with this piece of hardware. And, as we’ve already established, most of them are bozos. [. . .]

    My guess is that the truly revolutionary content is not going to come from the old-guard publishers. It’s going to come from new guys, kids who have grown up digital. This notion of mashing together elements comes naturally to them.

    Somewhere out there, a genius is waiting to be discovered — the Orson Welles of digital media, someone who will create an entirely new language for storytelling. If you’re reading this, Orson Jr., please get in touch. I’ve got something I want to show you. Okay? Peace.

    Note that the Apple tablet story has certified journalists reporting on rumors, and contradictory rumors (unverified facts) at that. That’s how stories develop in some industries, with influential figures stating things anonymously because they want to create buzz, or, perhaps, because they want to create an atmosphere in which “dead trees” publishers will feel more pressure to approach technology companies to make content available, lest they fall to the rear of the pack. Stampedes are bloody.


  3. “The eventual goal is to have publishers create hybridized content that draws from audio, video and interactive graphics in books, magazines and newspapers.”

    So a web site, then.

  4. Publishers, aware of the threat that an iTunes distribution model could pose to their revenues, are discussing an industry-run storefront for the purchase of issues:

    It’s true that magazine and newspaper publishers are eager to sell digital editions tailored for the tablet and other devices — but they’re just as determined to prevent Apple from getting between them and their readers along the way. [. . .]

    “There’s a lot of activity right now at all of the major newspaper and magazine publishers around ‘What is our role?'” said one magazine executive this week, who declined to speak on the record because of the sensitivity around interactions with Apple. “A lot of the conversations are around ‘We need to control the customer relationship.’ We are not interested in doing an Amazon thing or even an Apple thing where they own the data.”

  5. Amazon Kindle 2 First Impressions: A Review

    The postman knocked on my door today, and handed me a most magical device: Amazon’s Kindle 2 electronic book.

    I am not a new technology guy but my first impressions are:

    It is smaller than I thought it would be but not too small.

    Invest in the leather Kindle case. It is a clever quality item that at 30 bucks will protect your $360 dollar investment and gives it some class too.

    It came with battery uncharged, but it charged up as advertised in less than 3 hours.

    All the books I pre-ordered, when I turned the device on, were downloaded automatically in less than a moment.

    I was greeted with a how to manual – but frankly you don’t need it.

    The Kindle 2 is immediately intuitive. In no time I was reading books, getting on the internet, and ordering new books. You can turn it off, and go back to the book(s) you were reading before and it puts you automatically right back on the page you were last reading.

    The display (always just one page at a time) is hard to explain. Let’s just say it is easier for me to read than most books, magazines, and certainly computer screens. I have a bit of macular degeneration, and when reading the Kindle, for some reason, that little blurry spot does not show up, and this is at a small font. The text is very black, and the background is a light medium gray. It works. There is very little glare from whatever light you are reading from. Somebody did their homework when they developed this display.

    The 3G network connection is fast enough for mostly text, but some internet pages load a bit slower than DSL, but for those of us that grew up with 8kbs CompuServe dial up, the proprietary G3 in the air (no wires) network that Amazon calls Whispernet is magic.

    The Kindle 2 is kinda expensive at $360. But just think for a moment. Once you buy the device, the network it uses is as free as air. Consider when you use a G3 network with an iPhone you have to pay $30 a month minimum – forever. Yes, with the Kindle you do have to pay for your books, magazines, and or newspapers. But some of the books are very cheap. For instance, I have downloaded to my Kindle over 70 books for less than $30. New books are 10 bucks but classics are almost free.

    The Kindle 2 has computerized speech, and the books you downloaded can talk to you. The speech synthesizer is good, not great, but pretty darn good.

    Managing your Kindle 2 is very easy. Reading books on it is sublime.

    The reading experience on the Kindle 2 is unique. I find myself reading faster, because the text is more readable for me, and the navigation through the book is so very easy.

    Yes, I love real books, and I will never give up that ruffle of page, the smell of paper and leather, but I think I love my Kindle 2 for other reasons. There are many books that do not work with an eBook device like the Kindle, but their are many that do.

    I have a lot to learn about my Kindle 2, in particular how to better manage my eBook library, but right out of the box: I am so very impressed and pleased.