In February, 2008 I wrote a blog post called Is Apple Working on an eBook Reader: Does It Matter? Today, I would answer my own question with "Hell yes it maters." If Apple enters the eBook market, you know it would be expensive, but it would be a desirable device, and come on, you know you would want one.
At the time I wrote the original piece, you would have to excuse me if I was a bit cynical. I had been hearing we were one device away from mainstreaming eBooks for years. I had seen the Sony Reader hit the market with great promise and make little impact. I foolishly discounted the power of the Kindle. C'mon, who knew Oprah would be plugging them later in the year?
Black and White and Read All Over
I have to admit I've never laid hands on a Kindle, but the other day Amazon began inviting bloggers to submit their blogs to the Kindle platform. The second I heard about this, I jumped at the chance to have a presence on the Kindle because, well, I think if they just lowered the price, it would really take off. But when I looked at the preview of what my blog looked like in the Kindle after adding my first blog to the system, I was shocked at the terrible quality.
First of all, it was black and white. My blog has pictures and on the Kindle they were not just black and white, they were low resolution black and white. It changed my carefully chosen font to a Times New Roman. In short it looked horrible. Sure, you can get away with a black and white eBook Reader for books, but if you are going to add other content, you need it to be full color or it just looks ghastly (or you are asking bloggers to come up with a special Kindle design, which is an unreasonable expectation).
It was at that moment, staring at that horribly ugly preview of my blog that it hit me. This is clearly a job for Apple. Amazon may know books, but the current generation of the Kindle for content other than books is just unacceptable.
Hey, Apple Over Here; Market for You?
There has been rumor of an Apple tablet for some time now. The idea is that you have the iPhone interface on a larger device. If Apple releases such a device, it would be good for accessing the internet of course, and you could surely access the App Store, but a tablet would make the perfect eBook reader. You can read eBooks on your iPhone now, but the footprint is just too small for really comfortable reading (although I've done it).
If you slapped a keyboard, external or built-in, you would have the long rumored Apple Netbook. It seems like it's a market just waiting for a real player and you know Apple is a real player.
So the Apple WWDC is in June. We know they will be announcing the next generation iPhones, but if they came out with this tablet, it would turn the burgeoning eBook market on its ear. It would provide a gorgeous interface because its Apple. It would have a dazzling display because it's Apple and it would be expensive because it's Apple. Oh, and by the way, it would most definitely matter.