After months of bloggers foaming at the mouth, Apple have finally scheduled a press conference for January 27th, to unveil their “latest creation”. The iSlate, as it’s rumoured to be called, at it’s best could revolutionise the way we read newspapers and books, the way we interact with social media, and simultaneously save the dying newspaper industry.
While all this is unlikely, the iSlate still poses intriguing questions about where the future of publishing and media is headed. We’re increasingly dependent on having access to news 24 hours a day. The news and media junkies amongst us aren’t content with reading what happened yesterday in the morning paper. We want to get updates on world events as they unfold, with live analysis and documentation. The emergence of smartphones (see previous blog post) has further enabled us to have access to news wherever we are.
So, what can we expect from the iSlate? My estimate is a mix of ingenious social networking applications, the ability to read newspapers and books with remarkable clarity, a wide range of TV, music and film applications, as well as all the normal iPhone perks. The New York Times is currently on the cusp of announcing an online paywall akin to the Financial Times’, and there’s speculation that the announcement will coincide with Apple’s own unveiling. If publishers and newspapers sign deals with Apple, it’s sure to bring in some extra revenue to keep news corporations afloat for awhile longer as they try to figure out how to make journalism pay.
It’s interesting how Apple’s marketing team approach all upcoming releases. Everything is clandestine until the very last minute, with only select bits of information leaked to the public. As a result the rumour-mill goes into overdrive, pre-release hype reaches a zenith and Apple clean up at the sales. For all the abuse hurled Apple’s way (smug, overpriced, style over substance) they have a loyalty in their fanbase that other companies only dream of. One can’t imagine the same amount of column inches and middle-class chatter dedicated to the release of the latest version of Windows.
At the moment, Apple are reported to be in talks with several mobile phone operators in the UK to close a contract deal. It’s expected to offer the same kind of service that mobile networks offer for mobile broadband deals, offering discounted products at the expense of a long term contract. Price speculations are wavering around the $1000 mark, which means that we’re likely to get a price close to the basic Macbook here in the UK. Currently, I don’t see any point in owning a smartphone, a powerful laptop, and the iSlate. Nonetheless if you just like using your phone to just phone people (what a bizarre idea!) then I think the iSlate would be a worthwhile investment.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter what I think. We’ve got a week to go until the announcement, after which Steve Jobs’ plan on world domination will be complete.
Still, better him than Simon Cowell.