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Apple's Tablet: Will it change how you approach print media?

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Apples have long been a symbol of temptation, and it’s difficult not be tempted by early reports of Steve Jobs’ latest technological game-changer. The iPod revolutionized how we approach music (and killed the album, according to those hip cats at the RIAA), and pretty much everyone in the country owns an iPhone except me and my grandmother. Now, Apple is likely to make another stab at transforming media consumption with their long-in-the-works tablet.

Tablet laptop sales have always been rather, well, flat, but the key to Apple’s entry is the fact that it’s less a compressed computer than an entirely different beast. The New York Times reports that magazine and book publishers are already in talks to provide Apple with content for the tablet, whose ten-inch color screen is perfect for perusing print media in its original format. This could effectively end up leapfrogging over e-readers like the Kindle and the Nook. Add to that a continuous wireless connection and all the capabilities of the iPhone, and you’ve got a pretty formidable device, even if it will have to deal with a wave of alternative tablets and what’s likely to be a hefty price tag.

But while this could be what salvages some print media, particularly news sources, from the mess in which they currently find themselves, it’s also interesting to note that there is also some apprehension on their part. iTunes essentially became the sole medium through which consumers purchase music online, and there’s a sense that giving Apple similar power as an intermediary could hurt publishers’ own freedom to set prices and make decisions. In my eyes, should Apple become the de facto distribution powerhouse in the world of books and magazines, as well as music, it’ll be hard to continue thinking of them as the little company that could. Their outsider status, which they’ve remarkably managed to keep going for so long, is a little questionable if we’re consuming the majority of our content through them. To put it bluntly, it’s a question of whether they could end up going from being the hammer-throwing renegade in their iconic “1984” commercial to being the media-monopolizing face on the screen.

Despite these qualms, I’m honestly excited by the prospect of Apple’s tablet. Apple has so far been a pretty responsible company, and they have a knack for synthesizing and transcending what everybody else in the market is trying to do, so count me tempted. What about you? Would you buy such a device? And, more importantly, how much would you be willing to shell out for one?

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