Commentary

Apple Ready To Take On Amazon?

itablet vs kindleWith The Wall Street Journalreporting Apple is in talks to with HarperCollins to offer books through the company's forthcoming tablet computer, it looks like Steve Jobs is already fashioning Cupertino's answer to the Kindle.

Along with that is speculation The New York Times will strike a content partnership with Apple for the new device in connection with its plans to put up a pay wall. Can magazine publishers, who would potentially stand to gain the most from a full color, 10-inch or so touchscreen tablet?

Besides lining up publishers, Apple's inherent advantages entering the e-reader market lie with its powerful media ecosystem that spans devices, the iPhone OS, iTunes, applications and a huge developer community. Through that system, the company has a track record of delivering good user experiences.

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And despite a series of competing e-reader devices emerging in the second half of 2009, most notably Barnes & Noble's Nook, none have yet seriously challenged the Kindle's market dominance. The biggest barrier to an Apple taking on Amazon directly in the e-reader market appears to be price. The standard Kindle sells for $259, while the Apple tablet is expected to cost about $1,000.

That's well above the $199 Apple executives have referred to as the "magic price point" for handheld devices to gain mass-market adoption. But if people come to view the tablet as a substitute for a netbook or even a laptop, then it doesn't look as costly. Or Apple could eventually release tablet models at different price levels. Obviously, more details will be revealed when Apple (presumably) unveils the tablet next week. But it's shaping up as the Kindle's most formidable rival to date.

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