What Is the ITablet?

What is the iTablet?

The iTablet is Apple’s next attempt to shake up the entertainment industry — this time with a kind of revamp of some older Mac technology.

Apple’s cult hit Newton was a kind of early PDA. It was hugely popular among a percentage of the population, but is a well known flop in the computing industry. This time around, Apple is introducing a device, known for now as the iTablet, that is portable and lets its users download movies, play games, and read digital books. According to insiders, more and more pieces of entertainment are being marketed with multimedia trappings — think of CDs released with digital booklets, or movies that come with trivia games, etc.

This new iTablet device will likely be hitting stores sooner than you think. Tech analysts have been discussing an Apple tablet device since a reference at an Apple conference in 2004 sparked rumors about a return to the Newton. Many of these bloggers are now suggesting that the iTablet could see a launch in the early part of 2010.

The iTablet will be a touch screen internet ready gadget that aims to do what Microsoft failed — compete with Amazon’s Kindle, SOny’s Reader and another device that Barnes & Noble is set to release. The iTablet, which will be similar to an iPod Touch device according to insiders, is expected to have a 10 inch screen. Some writers have suggested that the new iTablet product would be just another extension of Apple’s massive iPod line — a holding that owns more than 70 percent of the American digital music market — due to the iPod’s recent loss of market share. In fact, just last week, Apple announced that iPod sales were sagging between 7 percent and 8 percent. Tech writers say that the iTablet product could breathe new life into the iPod line or fill a specific niche in Apple’s product line.

So why is Apple pouncing on an even more modern way of delivering content? Besides expected losses from the still widespread online piracy of music, the recording and film industries have taken a huge hit in the bankbook from the standard behavior changes found in all consumers — this iteration of entertainment consumers are moving away from traditional means of ownership. In layman’s terms, no one’s really buying albums and movies anymore, at least not from the usual places. In 2007, sales of download singles rose 27 percent while sales of physical CDs and albums dropped a massive 25 percent this according to the RIAA. One potential bright spot for musicians interested in making more than just singles — downloaded albums rose 34 percent.

In an effort to push back against this trend, record industry types and film studios are hunting desperately for new ways to get people to buy their products. Part of what they’re doing is revamping the product — the most recent album I bought (digitally) came with a beautiful digital “booklet” and a video of an interview with the band. This kind of material not only generates the all important industry “buzz”, but it also creates a need for different kinds of devices to enjoy them. For instance, I can’t enjoy the digital video that came with the album unless I’m using a music player that plays video, and even then I can’t leaf through the digital booklet unless I have a device that can read that sort of file, and on and on.

Expect Apple’s new iTablet device to be polarizing — remember, when the iPod came out there were plenty of people willing to line up against it, for whatever reason. If Apple can build on the parts of the Newton that were succesful, while drawing in some new customers to the world of PDAs and portable display units, the iTablet is a sure winner.

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