Go Down Moses,* Apple Unveils its Media Tabula Rasa

Last Updated Jan 26, 2010 5:10 PM EST


If you believe the hype (and I do), Wednesday, January 27, 2010 is shaping up to be a momentous day for the media industry.

Take your pick between Biblical references, or the musings of Aristotle; either way we are contemplating the unveiling of a blank tablet that promises some measure of salvation, perhaps, for a deeply troubled industry that clearly has lost its way.

So, what can we say about the Apple(APPL) Tablet, now its release is imminent?

Quite a few things, actually, courtesy of news websites and a blogosphere driven utterly insane with rumors and leaks:

  • Cellphone carriers Verizon and AT&T both say they will carry the tablet (FoxNews.com).
  • The New York Times will reportedly be the content poster child for the device (Gizmodo.com). This is significant if only, as I argued yesterday, the Times' coming paywall plans will live or die not on the web but over mobile platforms like the tablet.
  • The Times itself has reported that the tablet will rely on the iTunes payment system to help media companies learn how to charge for their content.
  • By tracking 200 apps being tested on 50 devices at Apple headquarters, Flurry Analytics has concluded that "there was a strong trend toward news, books and other kinds of daily media consumption, including streaming music and radio. (Thus) we speculate that the new Apple tablet will focus heavily on daily media consumption."
  • The new tablet will include certain features, such as color photos, video and author interviews, that Amazon's Kindle lacks, and therefore will be a much more attractive platform to media companies, according to a Bloomberg report.
  • The bottom line, according to the WSJ.com, is that Apple's Steve Jobs "is betting he can reshape businesses like textbooks, newspapers and television much the way his iPod revamped the music industry--and expand Apple's influence and revenue as a content middleman."
There is, of course, much more rumor and innuendo out there, but this sampling gives you an idea of the frenzy that is building toward tomorrow's announcement.

If the moment of convergence between print and e-readers is indeed upon us, among the implications to watch for will be an accelerated rate of cutbacks of print operations inside traditional media groups favor of their digital media divisions.

So we'll be keeping an eye out for that in the weeks and months to come.

* = From the old spiritual of the same name, and, more recently, from William Faulkner's excellent collection of inter-related short stories.
Related Links from BNET Media:

Apple Tablet's Jump Start for Media Digital Revenues
The True Test of the NYT's Paywall Plan Will Be e-Readers

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.