Updated: The Fabled Apple Tablet May Be Ready By Christmas, Served With a Multimedia ‘Cocktail,’ Says Report
Apple is racing to launch a tablet-sized device in time for the Christmas shopping season, according to a report from the Financial Times (FT). Featuring a 10-inch touch screen display, Apple’s tablet is also said to launch alongside “Cocktail,” a project designed to increase sales of CD-length music.
The Apple tablet, rumored for more than a year now, has finally gained some credibility with FT’s report today. The publication also quotes “executives familiar with the plans” saying that Apple could be planning a simultaneous launch of the tablet with a new service that is “all about re-creating the heyday of the album when you would sit around with your friends looking at the artwork, while you listened to the music.”
What we know about the Apple tablet
FT is scarce on details about Apple’s upcoming tablet device. The report describes device as a “full-featured, tablet-sized computer” which will be out just in time for the Christmas shopping season. The tablet’s screen is reported to be up to 10 inches in diagonal but it won’t have phone capabilities like the iPhone.
The FT says the Apple tablet will have Wi-Fi, allowing it to access to Apple’s online stores. Besides Amazon Kindle-like capabilities, the Apple tablet is reported to be great for watching movies, according to an entertainment executive quoted by the FT. No word on pricing, but previous speculation points to an $800 price point.
What’s in Apple’s “Cocktail”
The FT is also reporting that Apple is working on a project code-named “Cocktail,” a collaboration between the Cupertino company and record labels, namely EMI, Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music Group, which will bundle liner notes and video clips with the music sold on the iTunes Music Store (iTMS). The initiative is reportedly expected to be a reality as early as September.
The FT says Cocktail is a new type of interactive album, which will combine photos, lyrics sheets, video clips, and liner notes, all gathered into an interactive booklet. This new breed of album booklet will also play songs directly, without having to go back to iTunes, the report adds.
Myth or Reality?
Convinced by the Apple tablet? Judging by the expected screen size and rumored capabilities, the Apple tablet will not only be an oversized iPod Touch, ready for prime-time movies and music, but also a direct competitor to Amazon’s Kindle if Apple will start selling books in the iTunes music store.
Although so far the “Cocktail” news would put multimedia at the heart of the Apple tablet, Internet connectivity is the key to delivering the content to the device. And this is where last week’s rumors and today’s FT report conflict: Apple Insider said the tablet would feature 3G connectivity, same as the iPhone, while the FT reported today that no such capability will be present.
So while this intricate detail is up for debate, the question to users remains whether they would want a 3G tablet that would be chained to a wireless carrier (be it AT&T or Verizon) or the somehow limited freedom to use any Wi-Fi access point they have handy?
But a second story today with much of the same information as the first, clears things up a bit, and adds a few interesting new nuggets of information.
Here’s the best excerpt:
“It would be a colour, flat-panel TV to the old-fashioned, black and white TV of the Kindle,” one publishing executive said.
Uh oh, Amazon.
Now, to be fair, the executive completely glosses over any upsides to the current Kindle. Like the fact that its E-ink uses very little power. Or that it can be read in sunlight and is easier on the eyes than a backlit screen, which the Apple device would undoubtedly use. But still, it always seemed inevitable that devices like the Kindle would make the transition from black and white to color, just as televisions and iPods did before it. Now it appears Apple is ready to shove the e-book readers into a world of color before they may be ready.
It’s interesting just how eager the FT report paints book publishers as getting in bed with Apple:
Book publishers have been in talks with Apple and are optimistic about being included in the computer, which could provide an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Reader and a forthcoming device from Plastic Logic, recently allied with Barnes & Noble.
But, as they note, unlike the music industry, which Apple brought to its knees when it got a dominant position, Amazon, not Apple, is the one that threatens to do the same to the book industry right now. In Apple, they likely see a very viable alternative that should ease fears of Amazon doing something like cutting out the middle man (the publishers) and publishing books itself for the Kindle.
If Apple really is able to get this device out by September — which again, seems unlikely for a few reasons, another of which is that according to this new FT report, Apple hasn’t even talked to the film studios about it yet — Amazon is going to have to haul ass to get a response out on the market. Could that mean a Kindle 3, in color, by early 2010?
Thought of another way, this new Apple device is kind of like the kids in Pleasantville from the real-world, full-color future who visit the quaint black-and-white fake television town of the 1950s, and turn it on its head. Things could get ugly — but undoubtedly will be more exciting.