For quite some time i’ve argued that the iPhone / iPod touch is right now my favourite e-reading device (see here, here and here) (Having extensively tested e-ink devices like the Iliad). Hence i drooled for a iTouch like with a 7-9″ display.
But Steve Jobs “seemingly” dissed any chance building such a device with his: “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.” remark (NYT).
Nevertheless i was still hopeful. Not because people still read a lot (the actually do but more and more on the internet), but because people watch more video than ever, not on the broadcast channels, but on internet devices. Netbooks like the Asus Eee PC are the device class “de jour”, with Asus building a whole device family ranging from the EeePC in multiple variants to the EeeBox and the EeeTV with the latter clearly aiming at the home entertainment market.
It is very unlikely that Apple will completely neglect the netbook market and let the AppleTV “hobby” die. IMHO, it is more likely that Apple will enter the netbook market with a typical apple twist by not doing another scaled down version of a notebook, but a device that is dedicated for optimal support of the typical tasks a netbook has to support in a home and car enviroment.: Surf and read on the web, watch video, control your home entertainment systems etc. This device should be the best device for couch surfing as well as showing video to your kids (or let them play casual games) while being in the car.
Ever since the Newton, Apple had technology for this kind of devices and it is more or less a yearly rumour that the Newton 2.0 will finally ship. But this time i think the chances are better than ever.
Firstly because for the first time there might be a consumer oriented market that is big enough in order for Appe to be interested, and secondly because technologywise all the parts fall into their places.Intel is shipping it’s Atom processor (with a dual-core version coming in late september), multi-touch patents surface in the dozens, Apple talks about new product that can’t be matched by any other vendor in their earnings calls.
We’ll see. If not hopefully somebody uses Google’s android to build such a device. Or i have to wait for the OLPC Xoxo