More specifically, will a thin magazine-sized iPhone-like device give online videojournalism the boost it needs?
Bill Gates and Microsoft gave it their all, but failed. Maybe it was the timing.
Amazon's Kindle has caught on with text readers, but lacks visual spark -- not to mention all those cool 99-cent apps.
According to PC World, TechCrunch just released conceptual drawings of the prototype for its Web tablet project, called the CrunchPad (above). The simplified device is a touch-screen tablet designed specifically for Web surfing, video chat, and light e-mail use. Here's a demo:
Alas, TechCrunch is no Apple ... and now the 800-pound gorilla itself is confirming what has long been rumored. According to the Financial Times, "Apple is racing to offer a portable tablet-sized computer in time for the Christmas shopping season, in what the entertainment industry hopes will be a new revolution."
The device (right) is expected to be launched alongside new content deals, including some aimed at stimulating sales of CD-length music, according to people briefed on the project. The touch-sensitive computer will have a screen that may be up to 10 inches diagonally.The machine would reportedly cost around $800.
It will connect to the internet like the iPod Touch – probably without phone capability but with access to the web, and to Apple’s online stores for software and entertainment.
The entertainment industry is hoping that Apple, which revolutionised the markets for music players and for phones, can do it again. “It’s a portable entertainment device,” said one entertainment executive. “It’s going to be fabulous for watching movies.”
Book publishers have been in talks with Apple and are optimistic about being included in the computer, which could provide an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Reader and a forthcoming device from Plastic Logic, recently allied with Barnes & Noble.
“It would be a colour, flat-panel TV to the old-fashioned, black and white TV of the Kindle,” one publishing executive said.
Apple does not appear to have briefed film studios, but Hollywood executives said they would be willing to contribute more content than is now available over iTunes.
Surely you can see the implications for newspapers and other media outlets here.
Spokesman-Review multimedia guru Colin Mulvany could, and ruminated at length on his Mastering Multimedia blog:
These touch enabled tablets could seal the deal by forcing print journalism to go mostly digital. [It] makes me wonder if this will be the disruptive technology that sends print newspapers down the black hole for good.
A touch enabled tablet... would allow me to view text, multimedia and video in ways the smart phone struggles with today. I think of the applications of a tablet for photojournalists. Being able to download photos from their cameras to a tablet, then quickly tone, caption and send them back to the newspaper would be great. Having to lug a laptop in the field is true pain. This is a market segment that is only getting started. It has the strong potential to disrupt not only newspapers, but magazines as well.
Consumers, if they embrace these new touch-tablets, will have their news pushed to them at lightning speed. They will be connected to everyone and everything. They will choose how to shape their digital lives by deciding what news feeds and publications to subscribe to.
Where mainstream media outlets have shed their most talented people, those same workers are going to be the ones that will build the new journalism of the future. My guess is that it will be built around these new web tablets and handset devices. Monetizing the content will be foremost on the minds of these new digital publishers. Freed from the cost of presses, ink and newsprint, a new publishing model will develop.
News content is going to change, too. Web tablets are not just text readers, but will be multimedia hubs. Music, video, photos, animation, interactive graphics are going to be what consumers will gravitate to. It will change how journalists tell their stories. For many of today’s journalists, this new paradigm will be the deal breaker. For others, these new opportunities will present unique challenges that will drive the future of digital journalism to new and exciting heights.