Here I was thinking that the tablet computer might finally reach a point of critical mass, with an Apple tablet. But now the latest rumor, on VentureBeat, is that it’s not a tablet. It’s an eBook reader.
I should emphasize: That’s a rumor. As the buzz has it, Apple’s going to announce something on Jan. 26. It’s bought the domain name “islate.com” and pictures have shown up in a few obscure places. The one here appears on the VentureBeat story by Paul Boutin.
I believe this for one simple reason: After years of false starts, the market for e-readers is finally hot. Amazon claims eBooks outsold paper books in total dollars spent at Amazon on Christmas Day. Book and magazine publishers are the last holdouts against a fully digital media world. And although their revenues are down, they can still get people to spend $10 on a novel in digital format.
Either way, I love the way the rumors develop and how trends build. Here it is the last workday of 2009. Tablet computers have been around for five or six years, and eBook readers for more than 10. What makes critical mass? Is it the major player jumping in? But Sony’s been struggling with an eBook reader for several years now, and my first tablet computer was made by Toshiba. Those are big names.
Both of these technologies are very attractive to me. But I have to admit, as an owner and user of both a Kindle and a tablet computer, I’d rather have my tablet computer read eBooks when I want it to, but I also want to take notes, watch videos and browse the Web. And my iPhone with the Kindle software does a great job as an eBook reader already.