‘iSlate’ said to be dedicated e-book reader: More eBabel on the way? Today’s Apple-ology

image An e-reader, competing directly against the Kindle and Nook, rather than just a multiuse tablet---could this be the mysterious Apple gizmo called the iSlate?

That’s the word from QuickPwn, with a friendly pickup in VentureBeat, although there isn’t independent confirmation. Details:

“The iSlate will be a competitor to the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and other e-readers that are out there. Our sources have also told us that the iSlate eBook reader will run on Apple’s upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 software and will include a separate App Store for eBooks.  Apple will be announcing the iSlate eBook reader at WWDC 2010, which our sources says is being held on June 7.”

If the dedicated e-reader talk pans out, that would help explain other rumors---about the appearance of weird objects in the skies above Cupertino, California. Wait. I meant the rumors about Apple being involved in some kind of book digitization operation.

Like the Kremlin, Apple at times puts out false information to confuse the press and rivals. Could that be why Steve Jobs said that no one reads? More fun for the Apple-ologists.

Of course, there’s a little question here. Just what’s a dedicated e-reader? The Kindle, for example, has a primitive but useful Web browser that I use on occasion to read Gmail.

If the iSlate is a dedicated e-book reader, will Apple—historically in favor of a proprietary approach—create its on e-book format? Jeez, I hope not.  I’d actually prefer a multiuse machine on which people could run e-reading software of their choice. Or how about an e-reader that can do the same?

What happens next at Amazon if Apple goes the eBabel route? If Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is smart, then he’ll let the Kindle use the ePub standard to give it an instant advantage over Apple. Just keep in mind that hardware is Apple’s real strength and that in response, Amazon will very possibly do something to balance that out.

Come to think of it, wasn’t Amazon’s MP3 store Amazon’s way of dealing with Apple’s iTunes DRM? I’d love to see Jeff Bezos think similarly about e-books. An Amazon ePub store, anyone?

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7 Comments on ‘iSlate’ said to be dedicated e-book reader: More eBabel on the way? Today’s Apple-ology

  1. Historically, Apple has been forced to use proprietary formats. In fact, Steve Jobs made a public plea to the record companies almost three years ago to lay off DRM. Currently, most of Apple’s music is available DRM-free. The movie studios have not been so easy to convince. If there is DRM for Apple eBooks—if there are Apple eBooks—you can be assured that the DRM is there by request of the publishers, not Apple.


  2. Apple has long-standing ties to Adobe so its not impossible they might use Adobe-proprietary DRM rather than their in-house Fairplay DRM. Of course, Adobe would have to offer Apple a reason to use Adept… Maybe a zero royalty license? Apple certainly has their own datacenter and license servers so they have no need of Adobe and its technology or its tax. Adobe needs Apple but Apple doesn’t need Adobe and, in the past, when Apple didn’t need Adobe (TrueType!) they didn’t hesitate in dropping them. Could be interesting.

    Main issue is that Apple, like Amazon, sees no reason why the content it serves should be usable without Apple hardware/software. Adopting Adept would make whatever content deals they negotiate with magazines and newspapers available to their competitors which, of course, runs counter to Job’s philosophy (“What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is negotiable”) so I don’t see Apple drinking the Adobe kool-aid even if Adept were offered up free.

    The best that the Adobe camp can hope for, methinks, is that Apple doesn’t do DRM’ed ebooks at all, just magazines and newspapers (and video, audio, etc) and allows the user to install the bookstore app of their choice (Kindle, Stanza, B&N eReader, ADE, Txtr, whatever). After all, *if* Amazon is truly being as aggressive on pricing as its naysayers claim, then there would not be enough profit in ebooks to justify Apple setting up a contemporary content bookstore.
    So, unless Apple is going to sell *their* ebooks at $15 (possible; their reader *will* have color and the Apple faithful are nothing if not faithful) I’d say Apple is going to focus primarily on subscription content rather than discrete sales.

    It will be a nice test of ebook pricing claims, though, if Apple jumps in and makes liars out of the BPH’s by matching Amazon pricing.

  3. A dedicated Apple eBook reader? Never, never, never. It’s totally inconsistent with their corporate worldview. A dedicated media player for ALL media woud be more like it.

  4. Apple’s iSlate will *not* be a dedicated ebook reader; it will be touchscreen, multipurpose device that reads ebooks very well.

    It will be announced on January 26, 2010.

    Michael Pastore
    50 Benefits of Ebooks

  5. I don’t have any inside info but I’d be REALLY shocked if Apple introduced an ebook-only device.

    Rob Preece

  6. i long for the day when the choice among e-readers will be based on price, and how a reader’s functionality fits the user’s style — that is to say, i long for the day when “which books do you want to read, and how much do you want to pay for them?” is a completely device-independent question.

  7. I want to see what iSlate has to offer before I invest in an e-reader of any type. If I can have the e-reader plus, lots more, that is the one I want.

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