Apple Tablet/e-Reader: No Mystery Left?

As Apple Inc.s press event on Wednesday approaches, a series of leaks and contraband video clips have allowed us to cobble together a picture of just what the giant from Cupertino, Calif. will be unveiling. After months of speculation as to its existence, the tablet will be unveiled at 1 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.

In some ways the only mystery left, besides the name, is how deep the post-partum depression will be for all the bloggers and journalists out there that have been thriving off the unborn devices uncanny ability to start a rumor-storm at its mere mention.

The latest is word that Apple will be talking up the tablets e-reader capabilities. Apple reportedly has been in conversations with media companies and publishers and is looking to directly challenge Amazon and its Kindle with a similar 3G-enabled model of content-purchasing on the go. The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources in reporting the pricing scheme for the content: Best-sellers go for $12.99 and $14.99, with some titles offered at $9.99. Apple will take a 30 percent cut on the sales price, with publishers getting the rest.

The platform could also give newspapers and magazines a new, digital form of newsstand sales.

The industry has settled into a consensus about just what we can expect from the device. To recap: Dubbed in the press as the iSlate, the gadget reportedly has a 10-inch touchscreen, a completely new form factor for the company that falls between a notebook and the iPhone. Its Steve Jobs baby, and he supposedly directed every last detail of its design. Loaded with 3G and Wi-Fi, the Tablet will mirror the iPhone as a connected device but voice, obviously, is not the priority: Web and multimedia will be. Developers will gain a new platform to play with, and as far as functionality, it aims to take on e-readers, enterprise functionality, gaming devices, GPS navigation devices, music, video apps and more. And, it will run on Verizon Wireless at first, but that is not to be an exclusive.

The tablet might have the media in a tizzy, but some have wondered if the frenzy is warranted as it is unclear what kind of market will materialize for the device. The sub-notebook market is already splintered into netbooks, smartbooks, smartphones, tablets, e-readers, superphones (thats Googles contribution) and so on. Smartphones have taken off because they can do so much, and because of the covet-ability of the iPhone. Netbooks have taken off because were in a recession, and theyre cheap and can do most of what the average consumer needs a computing device for.

Some are bullish, at least, on Apples prospects. In the fall, Piper Jaffray’s Apple analyst, Gene Munster, said that Apple should be able to sell 2 million tablets in 2010, at $600 a pop, translating to $1.2 billion and boosting company revenue by about 3 percent.

So will the end-user uptake be as huge as the tech worlds interest in the tablet would indicate? Perhaps thats the last remaining mystery. Wednesdays event could go a long way to answering that question: How it is positioned, bundled and sold will make all the difference.


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