Apple Tablet could be the real Kindle killer

AppleAlthough the Apple (AAPL) world is disappointed that the rumored announcement of an Apple Tablet computer didn't transpire at the company's press conference on September 9, virtually everyone watching the industry expects it to arrive within the next year, if not by the 2009 Christmas season. While this year has been rife with the announcement of new devices to compete with Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle, none have the potential of the Tablet to turn the entire market upside down. Like the iPod and iPhone, the Tablet could overwhelm its competitors.

Why? For two reasons; the Tablet promises a quantum leap forward in customer experience over e-readers, and can tap into the enormous iTunes merchandising system.
The quantum leap forward is rumored to include
  • Touchscreen technology. No more clumsy buttons like the Kindle. Instead, the tablet will offer the same sexy virtual keyboard that has been so popular on the iPhone.
  • Color. The greatest Kindle shortcoming has been the 1970's-looking black and gray screen. The fonts are crisp, certainly, but . . . dude! Color!
  • Internet. The Kindle browser is dial-up slow, impractical for any media-rich site.
  • It's an iPod. It's a video platform. It's a game screen. It's a webcam. It might even be a phone. For the millions who have invested their personal fortunes on their iTunes play lists, the Tablet will be a perfect portable home base. And while I wouldn't expect it to take the place of the iPhone for portability, why can't a subscriber have the option of taking a call on either device, depending on which is more convenient at the time?
  • It's a computer. If, as expected, the Tablet will operate like a netbook, using cloud computing services rather than resident software, the cost penalty that Apple computers usually impose could be a great deal less, bringing the price point to a mass-market friendly level.
  • Sex. Kindle is n.o.t. s.e.x.y. Design-wise, it's the Pontiac Aztec of the e-device world. Apple knows how to design sexy.
  • Apps. Apps. Apps.
The iTunes advantage is
  • The dominant music catalog and proven delivery system
  • An already strong position in video sales
  • And yes, while Amazon is far ahead in print media distribution, with Apple's captive market, one phone call should solve that problem. What publisher wouldn't want its materials on iTunes? Including textbooks.
At one time, I thought that the Kindle's superior font resolution would give it a leg up with readers, but the willingness of iPhone users to read text on that platform has proved me wrong. With the above advantages, I see only one thing that could impede the Tablet's success; price point. $500? $800? $1,200? $1,600? What would you pay for such a device?
As Plastic Logic, Barnes & Noble (BKS), Sony (SNE) and others vie to one-up Amazon, Apple as usual seems to be poised to leapfrog the competition. No wonder Apple aficionados are frenzied with anticipation.
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