Will the Apple Tablet be just an eBook reader?

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This is likely just a traffic grab, but according to the Quick PWN blog reporting “inside sources”, Apple’s forthcoming tablet will indeed be called the iSlate, but it won’t be a tablet computer: it’ll be an eBook reader, and positioned to go head-to-head with the likes of the Kindle and Nook.

That’s worthy of at least a moment’s consideration. Quick PWN contributer Hans writes:

Our sources have told us that the rumor about Apple launching a product with the iSlate name is true, but the product won’t be an Apple tablet, it will be an eBook reader. The iSlate will be a competitor to the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and other e-readers that are out there. Our sources have also told us that the iSlate eBook reader will run on Apple’s upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 software and will include a separate App Store for eBooks. Apple will be announcing the iSlate eBook reader at WWDC 2010, which our sources says is being held on June 7.

There’s the odor of piscine about all of this. For one thing, the WWDC 2010 date doesn’t jibe with a host of rumors and industry supply reports that suggest that Apple’s tablet will be revealed in January, not in June. That June 7th date also appears to be wrong, since the Moscone Center has already been booked for a suspiciously Apple-like “corporate event” beginning on June 28th. Moreover, that’s almost certainly the date that Apple will announce the next iPhone iteration: they aren’t likely to shift the focus of the event away from the iPhone to an entirely new product.

More to the point, though, why would the Apple Tablet only be an e-reader? All evidence suggests that reading digital content is going to be a big focus of the Tablet, so I expect to see serious e-reader integration in the finished Tablet. But why do just e-books when you can also do apps, music, video and other functions? The iPhone OS is already built for all of this functionality: Apple’s not going to blow up the iPhone just for e-books.

I suspect that Apple will position the iSlate, if that is indeed what it will be called, as a serious reading platform for interactive books, magazines and blogs, but it’s not just going to do what the Kindle does. It’s going to do far, far more. The Kindle’s a niche device, and Apple’s not going to make one of those.