Just one more thing…

Wrapping things up before the flight and just enough time for a rumination or two. I said several months ago that it felt like the e-book thing would happen this year. I wasn’t entirely right, but I wasn’t entirely wrong either. It’s still been ebooks for alpha-geeks only, but those alpha-geeks are now reading-geeks, not just technology-geeks. And I’m willing to admit (despite my scepticism about the device) that 2009 should be called the year of the Kindle. The question on everybody’s lips is whether 2010 be the year of the iTablet (iPad, iBook, iScreen, whatever Apple does next)?

As an Apple-watcher from way back (don’t get me started), I’ve been reading the speculation around the rumoured Apple tablet with some amusement. What’s really interesting is that I’ve been to librarians’ conferences where the Apple device is foreshadowed (not by me) as a definite soon-to-be-released device. That’s right, librarians, not iphone developers. Reading geeks, not technology geeks. In fact, every conversation I have about ebooks eventually ends up with the “when apple enters the market” speculation. So the non-existent device has managed to snaffle mindshare already.

I’ve been avoiding blogging my thoughts because I have no inside knowledge, and I’ve seen nearly thirty years of Apple steps and missteps to know they’re far from perfect, and that all speculation does is raise an expectation that can’t possibly be met. After all, I was a (perfectly satisfied) Newton user 🙂

But I will point you to a Macalope post that succintly summarises my thoughts:

The Macalope has been saying since spring that the tablet, if and when it appears, will have some differentiator that makes it a compelling purchase. The iPod replaced your CD collection, the Apple TV would like to replace your DVD collection (but you won’t buy one), and the iPhone, obviously, replaced your cell phone. The tablet (insert caveat about its existential dilemma) will turn another industry on its head.

I’m not convinced that Apple cares enough about books to turn the book industry on its head, but I suspect they can see potential in replacing the entire print ecosystem (magazines, newspapers etc), of which books are a reasonably significant part. In much the same way that the Mac+Pagemaker+Laserwriter combination marked the beginning of a revolution in print production processes, the Mac+unspecified software+iTablet combination might mark the beginning in end-to-end replacement of print.

Many have been waiting for the ipod of ebooks. Including myself. But another analogy is that if kindle=Blackberry then  iTablet=iphone. And what the iphone did was reposition the expectations of the Blackberry and created a whole new market of people who previously hadn’t cared about smartphones. To succeed, the iTablet will have to create an entirely new market of people who previously hadn’t cared about ebooks.

Just one more thing…

Happy New Year. See you in 2010 🙂

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