Last week (so long ago), we pointed you to a little piece from Engadget about the iPod and its possible future as an e-reader. Other than our fascination the weird phrasing associated with publisher compliance — “…according to a source at a major publishing house, they were just ordered to archive all their manuscripts — every single one — and send them over to Apple’s Cupertino HQ…” — we were mildly interested in this development. Let’s be honest, making text available on an iPod is a tweaking of technology.
The story was picked up by Tom’s Hardware (yes, we know, not our usual haunt, but we actually know people who hang out there) where the focus is again on building an e-reader as opposed to building text-reading capability into the device. We are not splitting hairs — a dedicated e-reader will come with super-crisp rendering and bells and whistles. A device that allows for reading text, much like your cell phone and/or PDA won’t have that lovely life-like (or, rather, print-like) look and feel. It will, however, allow you to consolidate text reading with music listening. If Apple can find the wherewithal to go all Blackberry on the iPod, then it will be very close to the perfect machine.
Yes, a perfect machine will also do dishes. That’s a subject for another post.
We strongly believe there’s a market for dedicated e-readers, and if Apple gets in the game, Sony’s prices will naturally be more competitive. Competition is good. But we are not convinced that consumers are clamoring for a dedicated advice; students, voracious readers, sure, but not your more casual reader. The world is not seeking more gadgets to stuff into bags and pockets of cargo shorts. Devices that multi-task are the key to a happy and healthy future. If you don’t believe us, bring up the subject of a man purse during your next dinner party. Some guys are not ready to face the inevitable.
As for negotiating deals with the publishing industry, we disagree with Tom’s assessment. Publishers are already releasing electronic versions of their books all over the place. The bottleneck is on the security front; Apple has proven it can successfully implement effective DRM. Sony, we all know, has had an issue or two with this. If you look around the publishing industry (as we are this week), you realize that they are dying to go digital. Sure, they’re still figuring out the best exploitation method, but you know how it goes, they’ll get it right eventually.