Well, we all new it was coming. The Apple iPad tablet was announced yesterday and today there is an enormous amount of coverage from pretty much every news source and tech blog you can think of. The opinions about the device’s capabilities and potential for success vary widely. Donald Bell from CNET probably summed it up best when he said, “The Apple iPad is a bit of a misfit.” Bell went on to say, “Fortunately, I’m fond of misfits. More importantly, I’m a fan of disruptive technology – and for all the snickering, jaded, eye-rolling comments the iPad will get, it is going to change the way we think about mobile technology beyond the smartphone.”
As expected, the iPad is much like a larger version of an iPod Touch. The device has a 9.7 inch touchscreen and comes in three models 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB. Each of the models can be purchased as Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G with service options from AT&T. Users will be able to watch TV shows and movies, read newspapers, play music, use the internet, send e-mails, use any app that is currently available in the App Store, as well as new apps that are being designed specifically for the iPad. But more importantly, users will be able to read e-books and textbooks on the device. During the event Steve Jobs commented, “Amazon has done a great job of pioneering this, but we’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a step further.” Jobs confirmed that five publishers (Penguin, Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette Book Group) have signed on to provide e-books that will be available through a new app called iBooks. Details about which textbooks will be offered and pricing were not provided at the event but it was noted that the books will be in ePub format and publishers can add videos to the books. An article from Wall Street Journal provides some information about the pricing for the trade e-books and notes that the Apple business model will provide publishers with more control over e-book pricing. The agreement could also help publishers negotiate with Amazon on future pricing.
The Wi-Fi version of the device is expected to begin shipping in 60 days and the 3G model will ship in 90 days so we can anticipate that more details about the e-book and e-textbook offerings will unfold as the ship date approaches. As noted above, this device has the potential to change the way we think about mobile technology and in addition it could change the way we think about textbooks. If interactive textbooks that enhance the learning experience are offered, the device could be a game changer for our industry.