Blog Post

Rumor: Apple Tablet for Late 2009


Days after AppleInsider boldly predicted the launch of an Apple (s aapl) tablet in early 2010, the Financial Times has countered with its own insider information.

Apple is “working towards a September launch” for a media tablet, but more importantly and shockingly is who Apple is working with: EMI, Sony Music, Warner Music (s wmg) and Universal Music Group (s umg).

While conventional rumor wisdom strongly suggested an e-book reader as the primary function of the device, out of nowhere comes the Financial Times citing four sources associated with an interactive album project, “Cocktail,” as it has been code-named. Its purpose, at least from the perspective of the recording industry, will be to resuscitate albums sales that have fallen off a cliff since the advent of individual-track purchases through download.

To that end, it appears Apple and the labels are trying to reinvent the music album with photos, lyric sheets, and liner notes, creating an “interactive book” that would allow for exploration and the direct playing of songs without “clicking back into” iTunes.

“It’s all about recreating the heyday of the album when you would sit around with your friends looking at the artwork, while you listened to the music,” said one executive familiar with the plans.

He forgot to mention getting high, but we get the nostalgic point. Still, if you are worried that a niche tablet just became more niche-y, the Financial Times also quotes another entertainment executive as saying that “it’s going to be fabulous for watching movies.” There’s also a statement by Captain Obvious that print publishers are talking with Apple about books, too.

Clearly, the music initiative is a new rumor that nonetheless reinforces the idea that a tablet is coming, but offers an alternative date, one that makes more sense for several reasons.

  • September comes before Christmas.
  • Previous rumors put the tablet on track for around October.
  • A September launch would be in keeping with an annual Apple event for new iPods.
  • We still haven’t heard or seen Steve Jobs yet.
  • The Financial Times is quoting multiple, loquacious sources in the entertainment industry.

It’s looks like we’ll be wasting away in Maragritaville come September, cocktail in hand.

16 Responses to “Rumor: Apple Tablet for Late 2009”

  1. With new iPods due soon, the album functionality could still be easily available on iPod form factor now without tablets.

    Tablets appear due Q1 2010 and are expected to offer something very revolutionary.

  2. If the Tablet is A5-sized with a 9.7-inch diagonal touchscreen, as rumoured and allegedly confirmed recently by China Times newspaper, then I can see this device potentially becoming the de facto digital reader and iTunes Store being extended to sell digital magazines, newspapers, training manuals – any publication, in fact. RSS notifications technology is the perfect way to keep end users notifed of the latest edition, as we have now with Podcasts on the Store, and it would complement iTunes University massively. I’m sure there are independent smaller publishers out there eager for Apple to do to print content what they have done for music, and a large A5 device with a flickable, page-turning interface would be an ideal content-viewing appliance. Roll on September!!!!

  3. I’m very interested in this now. I was curious and wary of the tablet idea (and still am), but I’m starting to see how this could fit into the market. If it plays movies, as they mention, this could replace portable DVD players for many people. The interactive albums idea is very interesting. Not sure how it’ll play out, but if they market it right, and give it the right level of features, I could see that being a big selling point. Obviously the e-book idea is big too.

    Movies or books on a plane, an interactive music experience and no doubt some form of internet browsing and productivity software such as word processors and spreadsheets; I could see this as being a terrific device to travel with

  4. Michael

    Wow, save the music album. Interesting Idea, I loved albums but with the digital distribution I got an attention whore and now I’m listening with shuffle.

    But I would love to experience music in a new way. But buy a tablet for it? I don’t know. I would like to see it also on my MBP.

    Well, I’m very excited.

    • Michael, I’m wondering if there might be a strategy to make “tablet ready” content. For music, you have the interactive album. For print, the idea would be to improve greatly upon the Kindle and other e-book readers. I have no idea what would be done for video, though a larger screen than an iPhone/iPod touch is a drastic change in itself. The point would be to create a distinct tablet experience, richer media consumption than an iPod, smaller footprint than a laptop.

  5. galley99

    I love the concept of interactive booklets, and possibly an Apple tablet to act as a media controller (among other things), but I only buy CDs, not lossy digital downloads.