Although the Financial Times article from July 27 focused on project “Cocktail,” the information about the Apple tablet at the bottom of the article made most readers completely forget about Cocktail.
One of the more interesting aspects of the tablet mentioned by the Financial Times was that book publishers were optimistic about the tablet becoming an alternative to the Amazon Kindle. But, recently Dan Frommer reporting for BusinessInsider said that Apple might not be putting much effort behind competing with the Kindle.
Based on our conversation with [a source connected to the e-book business], it seems that any Kindle-killing the Apple tablet does will have to come from third-party e-book sellers, like Amazon (AMZN), Barnes & Noble (BKS), etc.
So Apple likely won’t make any deals with book publishers and instead will make deals with other companies to provide the e-books to be sold in the store. This way Apple will let someone else worry about the convoluted licensing agreements but will still benefit from the use of their device as an e-book reader.
The best example of this is the sale of audiobooks in the iTunes Store. The audiobooks are sold to you by Apple but are produced and provided to Apple by Audible. It is also possible that e-books could come to the Apple tablet the same way they come to the iPhone, through the App Store. Although, this second scenario doesn’t seem as likely to me.
Update 9/12/09: David Pogue (writing in the New York Times) asks Steve Jobs about e-book readers:
A couple of years ago, pre-Kindle, Mr. Jobs expressed his doubts that e-readers were ready for prime time. So today, I asked if his opinions have changed.
“I’m sure there will always be dedicated devices, and they may have a few advantages in doing just one thing,” he said. “But I think the general-purpose devices will win the day. Because I think people just probably aren’t willing to pay for a dedicated device.”
He said that Apple doesn’t see e-books as a big market at this point, and pointed out that Amazon.com, for example, doesn’t ever say how many Kindles it sells. “Usually, if they sell a lot of something, you want to tell everybody.”
Sounds to me like Jobs thinks that dedicated devices are a thing of the past. Although he “doesn’t see e-books as a big market at this point” I have a feeling that e-books are going to be a big deal on the tablet.