Rumor has it that Apple plans to release a large screen iPod touch with a 7 or 9 inch screen in fall 2009. According to a TechCrunch report:
“Apple has been experimenting internally with large form tablet devices for years, one source says, but there was concern that users wouldn’t like the device. The difference now is the iTunes app store, which has thousands of games and other applications that are perfect for a touch screen device with an accelerometer. Apple says more than 300 million applications have been downloaded since the App Store launched in July 2008. Combine the App Store, iTunes and a browser and you have one heck of a device.”
There have been similar rumors regarding a new device for some time now however this report claims that sources have actually seen the device and that Apple is in discussions with OEMs in Asia regarding mass production.
If these rumors are true, then combined with (a) other rumors or stories about the number of e-books being sold or distributed to iPhones/iTouches, (b) the capabilities of iTunesU, and (c) the number of academic institutions interested in trying out not just e-readers, but working with companies like Apple, what are the implications for future course materials. Any Apple device is almost certain to be full-color, something other e-reader devices currently lack. That would create some distinct market differences when it comes to the types of course materials that could be delivered over such devices. The challenge then might be the critical mass of educational content. Would open-source content spring up to fill the gap among the traditional textbook publishers for born-digital content suitable for such a device? Would faculty be willing to adopt such content in sufficient volume to make a difference in the marketplace? We can hypothesize about the answers to these and other questions. The question remains though whether stores or publishers will be any better at predicting the effects of such technologies than the music industry was just a few years ago.