January 27, 2010
Steve Jobs as photographed by Jim Wilson of the New York Times.
“And it came to pass, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’s hand…” Okay, it’s only one tablet in Steve Jobs’ hand, and its called the iPad, not the iTablet. And we don’t yet know whether it’s going to help the publishing industry save itself from itself.
I just want to point out that early last year, when I wrote about the unfortunate aspects of the Kindle (allegiance to Amazon, weird pointy corners) and my disappointment with the limitations of the E-Ink substrate (no color), I said a little prayer to Apple:
As I ride the slower Amtrak train home through a dark winter landscape, I’m feeling far less sanguine about technological magic. The paperback book I’m reading suddenly feels like a marvel of efficiency. For the Kindle, the Sony, the Plastic Logic, or any of the other iterations we’ll be seeing in the near future to supplant 600 years of habit, the challenge is to do what Apple has done: design a device for readers that is beautiful and functional enough to become a cultural totem, and ensure that it not only connects seamlessly to a brilliantly organized, bottomless market of written material but that it also allows access to every other market on the planet. Apple did it once. Perhaps it can do it again.
Has Apple answered my prayer? Maybe. My first impression: it looks a little big, a hardback, not a paperback. But it might big enough to properly display a glossy magazine layout. 1.5 pounds. $500 to $800. Hmmm.
An afterthought: Last year, when I went up to visit the E-Ink people in Cambridge, MA, I was entertaining an elaborate fantasy about producing a magazine for, if not the Kindle, then one of the larger format electronic readers like the iRex or the Plastic Logic. Then I learned that E-Ink doesn’t do color. So I was hoping that the Steve Jobs dog and pony show yesterday would feature a state of the art electronic magazine and even an iTunes store for magazines, or individual articles. Maybe the device could be used for those things, but it doesn’t seem like it’s at the top of anyone’s list of priorities out there in Cupertino. Too bad.