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.
iPad Reigns Supreme: The NYT says that so far iPads challengers can’t compete.
University Presses Urged to Work Together: for survival by a new AAUP report. From the Chronicle of Higher Ed.
Kindle Millionaire: Forbes wonders whether one really wants to become a millionaire by self-publishing on Kindle. Sounds OK to me, but…
Green Eggs and Cake: In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday last week, the Web site Cake Wrecks offers some amazing Dr. Seuss cakes.
NBCC Finalists: This thursday, the National Book Critics Circle (of which this blogger is a board member) gives out its annual awards this Thursday (one of which is going to PW’s NF Reviews editor Parul Sehgal!); in the leadup to the awards, the board has been blogging about each of the finalists. Check out the posts so far.
Big Mistake: Film producer Harvey Weinstein says his failure to buy film rights to ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was, well, a really big mistake. From the Guardian.
Bookstore Redux: Schuler Books in Michigan updates for the digital age. From M Live.com.
Apple has sent out a none-too-subtle invitation to a March 2 press event at which, as you can see above from the iPad peeking out from behind the iCal icon, the company is almost certain to unveil its next iteration of the iPad. Note, too, the slogan, a riff on the media tag that 2010 and 11 would each be the year of the tablet. Looks like Apple is pretty confident it won’t be the year of other companies’ tablets.
Rumors have been going around that the iPad 2 will be thinner, have an improved display, a camera, a faster processor and other enhancements–Apple’s always got some surprises, so we’ll keep you posted.
Borders, Bookstore of the Week: Jacket Copy names Borders in Pasadena (one of the stores slated to close) as its bookstore of the week.
10 Lessons: Smart Company in Australia offers 10 lessons from the collapse of Borders Australia and Australia’s Angus & Robertson.
BBC Buys Out Lonely Planet: BBC Worldwide has acquired the remaining 25% stake in Lonely Planet from the company’s founders. From the Guardian.
The Maid Sues ‘The Help’: Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, is being sued by a woman who has worked as a maid for Stocket’s in laws and says she was appropriated for the book’s main character.
Indies In the Digital Age: OregonLive looks at how indie bookseller like Powell’s are looking for their niche in the digital age.
Apple vs. Google: Seeking Alpha outlines the intensifying battle for the future of tablet computers that heated up this week with the introduction of the two companies’ subscription sales models.
Tina Brown on What to Read: The Daily Beast/ Newsweek editor offers some reading recommendations to NPR.
I Hate My iPad: So says a Slate writer, and he explains why.
Here’s a quick note on what Apple is doing to promote its e-bookstore. The company seems to be making a push to make iBooks stand out (at least from this blogger’s perspective, it had seemed like iBooks has not been much of a priority to Apple) by sending out regular emails featuring different kinds of books. Above you’ll see a screenshot from the latest one, focusing on thrillers.
How much do you think Apple cares about iBooks? Is it a priority, or did the company just create it to focus some attention on the iPad as an e-reader?
In a surprising turn of events, our iPad 2 poll, in which we asked readers whether they would buy an iPad 2 when it comes out (as rumors have speculated) in the next few months, the largest group of respondents, 26.71%, said they are not ready to buy a tablet. Plus, a bunch of folks filled in the “Other” box with similar sentiments: “No. Tablets are too pricey”; “I want one but they are too expensive.”; “I would if I could afford it.”
The second largest group of respondents, 24.66%, make up that group of people who don’t buy first generation technology products but hold out for the second model. Now they are ready to dive in to iPadland. 18.5% are even more cautious and will out for the iPad 3. Almost 14% also said they’d upgrade from iPad 1 to iPad 2, though several people who wrote in the “Other” box said they liked their iPad 1 and won’t be upgrading.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, very few respondents have been seduced by the promise of other upcoming tablets, such as the HP TouchPad (though one person did mention wanting a Blackberry Playbook in the “Other” category). Looks like Apple ain’t losing its hold on the tablet market any time soon.