image An iPod tablet with a seven- or nine-inch screen may show up in fall 2009, according to a Michael Arrington’s report in Tech Crunch.

In the past we’ve had our hearts broken by rumors that didn’t pan out. But could it be that Apple has simply been delaying the device for commercial reasons—that such a gizmo has indeed been around in prototype for two or three years? Just a guess. But oh how in character it would be for the oft-secretive Steve Jobs, who, for all I know, has a pile of ’em stashed away in Hangar 18, Area 51.

So what do you think, gang? Will it be good or bad if Apple comes out with the tablet and maybe even dominates the e-book industry? We’ve seen how Amazon has tried to inflict the Kindle format on the world. Will Apple try to do the same with its own creation or with a DRM ally such as ScrollMotion? Might Apple try to lock out third-party products like Stanza that combine e-reading and distribution infrastructure? And about Apple’s censorship of Knife Music?

Meanwhile here are a few more details from TechCrunch’s Arrington:

Prototypes have been seen and handled by one of our sources, and Apple is talking to OEMs in Asia now about mass production.

Apple has been experimenting internally with large form tablet devices for years, one source says, but there was concern that users wouldn’t like the device. The difference now is the iTunes app store, which has thousands of games and other applications that are perfect for a touch screen device with an accelerometer. Apple says more than 300 million applications have been downloaded since the App Store launched in July 2008. Combine the App Store, iTunes and a browser and you have one heck of a device.”

In the post, Arrington says he expects the price to be “significantly higher” than the current $399 for the 32G iPod Touch.

So what’s the likelihood of the rumor panning out? “I’m not saying Apple is definitely launching a large form iPod Touch,” Arrington writes. “But sources I trust are saying they are currently planning to, and one source has actually held the device.”

Related: Techmeme roundup on the iPod rumor.

Question of the day: What’ll Oprah do after she’s encouraged her fans to buy Kindles and thus Kindle books—if Apple has a better machine and the price drops? Oh, the perils of blessing such proprietary devices. I’m rooting for Oprah eventually to Get It and encourage Amazon to embrace ePub. We’re talking matters of trust here. Proprietary formats, especially with DRM involved, are inherently untrustworthy.


  1. I love reading books on my iPod Touch. I use ereader because I find it easier to get books to my device since it doesn’t require me to install an application on my PC. My biggest complaint is the lack of available newly released books. (Well, and there is the cost associated with those newly released books. And the fact that I can’t pass them on to anyone else to read like I could a physical book.) I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to find an ereader for my iPod that supports other secure formats (i.e., MobiPocket or pick something). More newly released books seem to be available initially in Secure MobiPocket but not eReader format.

    I really don’t want to carry more than one device….but the availability of books that I want to read now may drive me to a Kindle. *sigh*

  2. ANYONE dominating the eBook reader business is a dangerous thing. At least with Amazon, we know books are their core business. Look at Palm’s on-again/off-again relationship with eBooks. Do you really think Apple will care about eBooks enough to really drive them, no matter how good their hardware may be?

    However, of course I hope Apple will come out with a useful larger-format reading device and push the idea of eBook reading.

    Then again, maybe they’ll wait another five years. I’m always excited about new products, but readers can’t read my books with future products so I encourage customers to consider what’s there now–recognizing taht there will always be something faster, smarter and more beautiful coming down the road eventually.

    Rob Preece

  3. Rob, I disagree with your first point, and agree with your second.

    Amazon may know books, but they’ve demonstrated repeated ineptness with their hardware product and marketing. I have more faith that Apple (who really understand consumer products and marketing) would demonstrate a commitment to ebooks similar to their commitment to music and video.

    Your comment about future products I definitely agree with – there is absolutely no reason not to buy a reader today. Readers may not have much style, and their interfaces still need work, but the current hardware has good displays, excellent battery life, and usable form factors. Format support is all over the place, but that is a reflection of the immaturity of the market rather than something attributable to the manufacturers, however it is important that manufacturers demonstrate good faith by regularly updating firmware.

    I don’t see myself still using my Hanlin V3 in 5 years time (at least, I hope not!) but it gets me reading now. I very much view it as a temporary device until something better comes along.

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