If you’ve been following recent tech rumors, then you’ve heard Apple has a roughly 7″ version of its iPad tablet in the works. Rumors say the company is planning to unveil the device, which will compete with smaller tablets like the Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7, on October 23rd. Today, Apple sent out invites to the tech media featuring the graphic above (via Engadget) for an event to be held next Tuesday, the 23rd. Most likely, Apple will be making a strong push into the textbook market with this new device and hoping to lure new iPad users with a lower-priced device. We’ll keep you posted as we know more.
Way back in August, we wrote that October would likely prove to be a critical moment in the digital market and would give us a better idea of the relative positions of digital’s two biggest players, Amazon and Apple.
Well, it’s October. Amazon has announced its Kindle Fire and 3 new Kindle models, and Apple, after delaying its iPad 3 launch, has announced the iPhone 4S. How did the two digital titans do?
Hitting the iPad App Store this week is Atlas Shrugged in an “Amplified Edition,” which means all types of bells and whistles for the tech-minded Objectivist out there. Ayn Rand’s magnum opus joins the small group of literary titles getting an electronic makeover: Pillars of the Earth was the first, and not so successful; then came The Waste land, which was crammed with additional content and received great reviews; then Kerouac’s On the Road became Penguin’s second foray into the amplified books market.
This October is likely going to be a defining moment for tablets. That’s if, as expected, Amazon drops its tablet into the increasingly crowded fray, which at the moment is only slightly more organized than the Wild West. Many are expecting Amazon to set things straight, eliminating the pretenders and giving us a better idea of what exactly buyers want out of a tablet. But before we get to what might happen, let’s get caught up on what already has happened.
The iPad is the undisputed king of the tablets right now–anyone can tell you that. Most recently, the iPad 2 sold 9.25 million units in the June quarter, a 183% increase from its 2010 June quarter. Those are some impressive numbers, but what’s more significant is the stranglehold Apple currently has on the tablet market: the company is projected to end 2011 with a 61% market share, which translates to 40 million units sold this year.
But, earlier this week, some interesting news surfaced: Android tablets are eating into Apple’s majority share, now taking up 20% of the market. Complicating matters, projections for Apple’s future market share are all over the place. Some experts are saying the iPad will lose some of the market yet remain strong with a 47% share in 2015 (and Android growing to a 39% share). Others are way more optimistic about Apple’s future, going as high as a 60% share in 2020.
What all this means is that no one knows what’s going to happen with the tablet market. But here are two ideas:
1. The “magic number” for tablets seems to be $300. Over the coming months, the closer tablets get to $300, the more clear-cut the field will become as weaker ones will be weeded out, much like what happened with e-readers at the $150 price point (covered here and here). According to a Zogby International poll, customers are decided on what they want out of a tablet: a 10-inch screen (like the iPad’s), a catalogue of readily-available apps, and a cost less than $300 after carrier contracts.
2. The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is the closest thing to a consensus “Best Android Tablet.” It’s currently listed on Amazon as the #1 bestselling tablet, and much has already been made of how well it’s doing. It has 16 hours of battery life, a much-touted keyboard dock option, the all-important 10-inch display (which also happens to be gorgeous), and can connect to Playstation and Xbox controllers. But most importantly: it costs less than $400. The only knock on the tablet so far has been its lack of 3G, but that’s not going to be a problem for much longer.
However, back to where we started: Amazon’s highly anticipated tablet, which is projected for an October launch.
The “Coyote” tablet is expected to use a Honeycomb OS, a 9″ screen, and run on the NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor (Amazon’s other, beefier tablet, “Hollywood,” is expected to run on the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich OS and release later). But the big news is that people are expecting Amazon to get all razor bladey and sell Coyote for $249, with the expectation being that they can sell the tablet for a loss because they’ll easily recoup it (and way, way more) through sales of music, movies, books and cloud storage.
Amazon was positioning its tablet for a monumental clash with the iPad 3 this October–but that all changed this week when news broke that the iPad 3′s fall launch is being derailed until 2012 because of retina display issues. Much has been made about Apple’s efforts to push its display to the cutting edge, and the news of the iPad 3′s delay indicates that when we finally get the iPad 3, it’s probably going to be downright beautiful.
But 2012 is a long way away, and it certainly doesn’t help clear up the muddy picture that is the current tablet marketplace. That’s why it all begins and ends with Amazon. The troops are being readied, and once October rolls around, the market for tablets will probably be a very different place.
In the latest chapter of Amazon vs. Apple–which is increasingly starting to resemble a popularity contest between the two prettiest girls in school–two separate stories broke today: both are good for Amazon and both are very bad for Apple.
The first story is Amazon’s announcement of its Kindle Cloud Reader, an HTML5 reader that bypasses Apple’s iOS guidelines prohibiting the use of links–and their 30% cut on all sales. The Cloud Reader allows users to purchase and access Kindle titles through their browsers rather than through apps, and gives Amazon the ability to set up a Kindle storefront through an iPad’s browser without having to pay Apple a cent for purchases.
The second story, which is a loss for Apple (and thus a gain for Amazon), is the class action lawsuit filed today in California claiming that Apple colluded with Hachette, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Macmillan to fix prices on e-books. The suit alleges that this all happened back in early 2010, as Apple was readying the iPad for the digital books marketplace, and neither the publishers nor Apple were willing to accept the low margins Amazon’s $9.99 e-book pricing was forcing on them.
“Fortunately for the publishers, they had a co-conspirator as terrified as they were over Amazon’s popularity and pricing structure, and that was Apple,” Steve Berman, an attorney representing consumers in the case, said in an e-mailed statement.
In one day, Apple has been thrown into the spotlight as a frightened player in the digital books market while a major hole has been punched in their iOS’s restrictive guidelines through circumnavigation. The impending iPhone 5 and iPad 3 announcement can’t get here soon enough.
But, at least for this week, we can safely chalk up a victory for Amazon.
Today Apple unveiled its much-anticipated iCloud service, set to debut this fall along with the next iteration of its iOS iPhone operating system. iCloud is a digital media locker on steroids, syncing all of users digital content, especially the contend bought from Apple–music, e-books, apps, documents, even user-created photos–to all of a users different Apple devices. All of this content is stored in the cloud, available for re-downloading at any time. For the full story, check out Engadget’s extensive coverage of the announcement event, during which Apple also announced 130 million e-books have been downloaded from the iBookstore, though that figure includes both paid and free e-books.
This is big news on many fronts, especially for the music industry, which has been resistant to this kind of buy-once-play-anywhere access until now, but it certainly beefs up what iBooks has to offer, too. One of the features of iCloud will be automated back-up and syncing of all purchased content between devices, so that means if you buy and e-book on your iPad, it will also pop up on your iPhone the next time you open iBooks there.
Consumers will increasingly expect their digital content to be available on any device they happen to be holding, and that may be the biggest implication of Apple’s iCloud, spurring other content vendors to make digital goods–music, books, whatever–available across devices lest they be left behind. This is also what Amazon is after with the forthcoming Kindle for the Web and the recently unveiled Amazon Cloud Player.
The Main Point:
- Buying digital media no longer means buying a single download of a file. Now it means buying perpetual access.
With all the chatter about the iPad 2, it’s hard for a geeky guy not to get a little anxious. I was working exclusively as an e-book blogger when the iPad 1 came out, so I pre-ordered it and was awaiting the UPS guy on the Saturday it was first available. In the months–not quite a year yet–since, my iPad has been my constant companion, my do-everything machine, my best digital friend.
Frankly, it was dismaying to witness the introduction of the iPad 2, with its faster processor, way cooler, magnetic Smart Cover, sleeker, lighter design, and two-color-availability. How could I not want one of these things?
Except, I don’t think the iPad 2 does anything I’d want to do that I can’t do with my iPad 1. I use my iPad as an e-reader, calendar, to-do list, word processor, occasional gaming device, and window onto the internet. I also use it to play music. I already do all of that with the iPad I have, so why do I need a new iPad to do the same things, if a little faster?
The truth is, I think I don’t…but I want a new iPad, just cause it’s shiny and pretty and has a way-cooler cover. But I’m not going to get one. Not while my old iPad is still pretty much state of the art. Did Apple rush the iPad 2 out to keep up with its competitors? Is just one year the whole life cycle of a gadget these days? What do you think? Is it iPad Too soon?
Closing the Age Gap: The Daily Mail notes that e-books are hip amongst the older, supposedly less tech-savvy generations in the UK.
Random House + Apple: After Random House announced agency model pricing yesterday, rumors began spreading that it would also join the iBookstore. From Apple Insider.
Random UK: Random House UK won’t switch to agency pricing, despite the US switch, reporters the Bookseller.
Self-Publication: An unknown novelist is serializing a novel one page at a time on a lamppost in downtown NY. From the New York Post.
Tough Translation: Publishing Perspectives outlines the difficult politics of translating books between Arabic and Hebrew.
Prodigious Literature: HuffPo looks at a handful of old-fashioned literary prodigies.
AT&T to Sell Kindle: The Amazon Kindle will join the other electronics on sale at AT&T stores. From Xbit Laboratories.
It’s going to be a big week for tablets. On Wednesday, March 2, Apple will hold its iPad 2 event, at which the company will show us what it’s got in store for the next model of the iPad. There’s lots of speculation. The image above, from the Web site BGR, is circulating around the tech blogs: it was hoped to be an illustration of the actual iPad 2, but seems, instead, to be an Apple’s fan’s imagining, according to TUAW (I frankly doubt Apple would design anything this square). There’s murmurs, too, that Apple will release this next iPad in both black and white models (see this post from MacRumors); ooooh.
Whatever Apple brings to the next iPad (a camera, better display, can opener), for the first time, the world’s most popular tablet has some actual competition: David Pogue of the NYT favorably reviewed Motorola’s entry into the tablet game, the Xoom, and he says that its operating system, a tablet-specific version of Google Android called Honeycomb, is “the real iPad competitor,” though he also notes its in some ways too complicated and counter-intuitive. But this is the OS that will power the throngs of tablets soon to hit the market.
We’ll have to wait and see whether Apple has anticipated Honeycomb’s advances and shortcomings. But whatever happens, this is going to be the year that the tablet becomes a product category, not just another name for the iPad. And that should mean more e-books, and e-books becoming more a part of readers’ way of life. And it’s likely to really get underway this week. Whoa…
New Markets: The NYT looks at the new venues in which publishers are hoping to sell books.
Profitable Pearson: Pearson’s numbers are looking good this quarter. From the WSJ.
Pearson vs. Apple: But, in the same earnings call, the Pearson chief says the company might take the Financial Times elsewhere if Apple isn’t flexible on its new subscription terms.
The UK Gets E-Booked: Bloomsbury predicts 2011 will be a big year for e-books. From the Bookseller.
Xoom Reviewed: The first real iPad competitor, the Motorola Xoom, has landed, and here’s Pogue’s review for the NYT.
Dear Pynchon: A series of satirical letters written to Thomas Pynchon and other non-blurbers, asking for a blurb for a book. From Salon.
Weird Al on Growing Up: The beloved parodist has written a children’s book and tells NPR all about it.