And So The iPod Air Is Coming After All!

What Is Apple’s Mystery Product?

Quick recap: During Apple’s fiscal third-quarter conference call this afternoon, CFO Peter Oppenheimer warned of falling margins for the next quarter and fiscal 2009. He gave three reasons, but one really stood out: a future product transition that “I can’t discuss today.”

And:

Apple plans mystery “product transition” before September’s end

The new, unnamed product will continue to have “technologies and features that others can’t match,” according to the CFO.

Previously, I wrote:

In about a month, I expect the rumor mill to start grinding out whispers of Apple placing an order for screens they’ve never used before, perhaps screens between five to seven inches diagonal.

It’s a month later!

We haven’t had people track down component orders yet, but Apple itself — a month later to my prediction! — has stated Something New is coming.

I will reiterate the salient points here:

1) Apple will produce a larger-screen iPod that is best suited for ebooks. I’ve been calling this device the iPod Air.

2) Apple will enter ebooks, thus legitimizing them and liberating writers from short-sighted print publishers. (I’ve just recently sussed out some rough details that I’ll flesh out in another post days from now. Some research remains to be done. Let me just say Apple already has many pieces in place.)

3) The iPod Air will also be a productivity tool. The missing Bluetooth keyboard connection we’ve been waiting for the iPhone to get? The iPod Air will have that (I’m not certain if it will migrate down to the iPhone, however. It might not!). If you don’t believe a small-screen device can be an actual productivity tool, have your jaw drop with this post: When An Expert Uses An iPhone.

4) This device will cannibalize sales from low-end MacBooks because it will be Functional Enough — with its iWorks suite — to replace one yet much more portable. With its touchscreen, it will also be much, much fun to use. This will be the first true Cloud Computing device in that people will use it to interact with the Internet more than they currently desire to do with existing notebooks and even Asus EeePC-like “netbooks.”

5) Apple will count on very high volume sales and its initial price will offer very, very thin margins (especially for Apple!). Apple will count on four things:

a) Economies of scale dropping component prices

b) Sales larger than the iPhone

c) Apple-created software sold via the App Store (iWorks will be bundled, but Apple will offer more optional software too), and

d) Even more Mobile Me subscriptions.

Those of you who witnessed the lines for the iPhone 3G simply don’t know what a real line is like. Think iDay 2007at least doubled.

As far as I’m concerned, Apple has just frozen the netbook market to me. Asus 901? MSI Wind? They no longer matter to me. Do I want to spend money and time on one of those when I’m now certain Fall will bring an iPod Air? No! I’m now certain something dramatically better will be coming from Apple. The only thing I’d buy now is an iPhone 3G.

And all of you out there deciding on a current netbook? Forget them. Save your money. You’ll get much more from Apple. And what you get will once again change the world.

Oh, one more thing: Thinking of a Kindle or a Sony Reader? Change your mind!

They’re dead, Jim!

Previously here:

eBook On An iPhone: One Example
iPhone Wireless Printing?
Reference: iPhone/iPod Touch Screen Size
More Of That Non-Existent iPhone Effect
When An Expert Uses An iPhone
iPhone eBook Reader Stanza Available
Memo To Steve Jobs: iPhone Owners READ!
iDay 2008 + 1 = LONG Lines!!!
eReader On iPhone: What It Looks Like
Southern NYC iDay 2007 In 56 Photos!
Flashback: iPhone 2007
MSI Wind = Ten-Inch Screen MacBook?
Video: eBooks On iPhone/iPod Touch
What Apple Better Not Miss About eBooks
For God’s Sake, Get eBooks Going, Steve Jobs!
iPod Air: See You In September?
A Gadget Too Far
No iPod Air Next Week
American Tech Companies: Wake Up!
It’s Now All Down To Apple Vs. Google
Apple: You’ll Get It When You Can Sync It?
What eChanges Will High Oil Prices Bring?
Reference: iPhone/iPod Touch Backup/Sync
An Example Of iPhone/iPod Touch Keyboard Lag
The iPod Air Will Be Better …
I Said Apple Sync Was Important: Here’s Proof
eInk eBook Readers: They’re All Dead, Jim!
What’s This? iPod Air Next Month?
iPhone Continues To Swallow The Internet
Apple’s Sync Strategy Finally Arriving?
Now We Know Why Apple Bought A Chipmaker
Amazon: Already Toast
Future iPods: Piper Jaffray’s Blind Spot
Writers Don’t Fear The Future: Publishers Do!
The Lesson Of Apple Isn’t New, But It Works
The Three Companies Apple Should Acquire
Apple Has Magic The Others Don’t
Apple And eBooks: Why The Delay
For The Record: Apple and eBooks
Memo To Steve Jobs: People DO Still Read!
The Three Big As: Apple, Amazon, Adobe
Peak iPod: Has Apple Reached Its End?
One More Time: Apple And Ebooks
Is Apple’s Tablet The iPod Air?
Why Apple’s Design Is Excellent
Steve Jobs Is Up To Something. Probably Big.
Does Apple Want To Be King Of Ebooks?

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12 Comments on “And So The iPod Air Is Coming After All!”

  1. Cliff Burns Says:

    Impressive intelligence-gathering, Mike. I have many, many people pn forums asking me snootily how I ever expect to make any money publishing my books virtually, that unless I have “dead tree editions”, I’m not a legitimate writer. I keep telling them that new technologies permit authors to bypass the old, traditional publishing regime and go directly to readers…and then remind them “who knows what will happen five years from now, ask me then if the switch was worth it”. I think Apple has already raced ahead of my prediction. This IS exciting…

  2. mikecane Says:

    Hey, Cliff. The same thing was said about websites! How can any website dare to think it would ever be as Important as Print? Print editors check Drudge Report several times a day. Daily Kos has massive circulation. Engadget’s entire site is what used to be *one page* in an issue of the printed Popular Science/Mechanics magazines. Arianna Huffington is not in print with a magazine — she’s on the Internet with a website!

    Whenever I hear people degrade the future of ebooks, I always wonder what agenda they’re pushing. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these are scared little rodent editors who know the jig is up for them and they’ll soon have to find jobs that won’t permit them to molest artists. Let them starve to death — as they starved to death Poe, Nerval, Baudelaire, and Balzac! I shall avenge my brother writers!

  3. wombat Says:

    I think Joss Whedon showed last week that the old model of a giant distribution house publishing and promoting media can be bypassed. The runaway success of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog proves that self-published media can be successful.

  4. nimbus Says:

    Those eBook readers look like they came from 1990.

    What do you think the price range for this said device will be? It has to be under $700. $499, would be pretty good…but that might be too cheap.

  5. mikecane Says:

    I think somewhere between $700-$900. They might do $999, but that would hurt unless it had some kind of new screen tech and maybe also bundled the BT keyboard.

  6. nimbus Says:

    BT keyboard? I think not. Apple doesn’t even give a keyboard (nor mouse) for the Mac Mini, and that’s an actual desktop.

    $1000 for this device is a lot when it’s compared to laptops. I think $599 is the most that they will charge. Why? Because they will drop the prices on the iPod Touch line. I think the iPod Touch should be $249 and $349 with this new device being $599.

    I think using an external keyboard with a small touch device is crazy and doesn’t make much sense. The point is great portability. If you want to lug around a BT keyboard, get a laptop.


  7. Maybe the iPhone and iPod touch will make okay ebook readers.

  8. spidouz Says:

    Mike, let me give you my thoughts:

    With the success of the iPhone and proof the ability of Apple to reduce the size of a portable computer and the flexibility of OS X for portable device, we can easily suspect to see a new kind of device, such a mix of Sub MacBook, Mac UMPC, Mac MID, Tablet MAC and MAC PSP. (let’s call it: iMAID (Multimedia Apple Internet Device)

    A kind of “All-Multimedia” device, to merge:
    – Audio (music, podcast, radio, audiobook),
    – Video (movie, tv shows, tv channel & internet broadcast stream),
    – Communication (Internet, email, IM, Chat, VoIP),
    – Productivity (office work, speech recognition, hand writing/painting/drawing)
    – Entertainment (Game, ebook, navigation)

    This device could have all the successful features from the iPhone, plus some new innovation.

    This device could look like those mockups:

    Except the device would have:

    – a 5 to 6 or 7″ multi-touch wide screen,
    – have the dimension of a pocket book, almost like a PSP to fit in the pocket or purse,
    – EGDE, 3G, Bluetooth, Wifi connection for Networking,
    – iSight for Mobile iChat, Skype call, etc…
    – GPS for Car Navigation, Travel information, or Localisation Application
    – Accelerometer
    – Evolved on-screen keyboard
    – GPU and QT chips for high quality gaming and video compression/decompression
    – 4 direction buttons, 4 actions buttons, two alternative back buttons and a joystick (such the PSP)
    – a 16Gb Slate disk
    – a full OS X applications such: iCal, Mail, Safari, iTunes, iChat, Finder, iPhoto, iMovie, iWeb, iWork, probably few games and even probably some new apps such: iDraw, iSpeech, iPlay, iWrite, etc…

    – no drive (such the MacBook Air)
    – “on the air” Apps downloading from iTunes

    – an optional pen to be able to write, draw, sketch up, design… naturally. The screen would be reply to the finger and/or the pen. The pen would use something like the Wacom Cintiq. (it would even be possible to use it in the game… for the DS lovers!!)

    – A price tag between $599 and $799. It could be expensive for a game station (to compare to Sony PSP or Nintendo DS), but it’s not so much for a small tablet, sub-notebook, psp, Multimedia Internet Device, etc… We saw lately a lot of new coming small form factor device… there’s definitely a market for this kind of devices, mostly when it merges with the game market and the book market (Kindle and Sony Reader)

    After the music, movie, tv show, family stuff (such photo, movie, web) and productive domain (exchange, office, …), the remaining market are:

    – Game Market (huge market when you merge home and mobile device and see the success of the last game stations (xbox360, PS3, Wii, PSP and DS together)!! We already know games are a big deal since the huge success of game apps for iPhone.

    – Book Market (for writer but for all kind of books! including comics, education, encyclopedia, dictionaries and newspaper if there’s some kind of “search”, chapter and categories for easy navigation through the book).

    It wouldn’t be a surprise to even see a possibility to subscribe to some newspaper (such New-York Times) the same way of ‘Podcast’ for $.99, buy some weekly fanzine for $1.99 to 2.99, buy some regular book for 5.99 to 19.99 ($9.99 most of the case)…. exactly like songs, video songs and albums. (or even having some FREE content, as we already see for iPhone Apps)

    Having multiple device with a common plateform to develop game/ebook, will help to have the same game/eBook released for: iPhone, Mobile Tablet, Notebook/Desktop or AppleTV (MacMini / Apple iGame?).

    Because, I’m pretty sure the iPhone would be a great platform to read book on-the-way. As for the music, you will be able to transfer your eBook in your new iMAID and in your iPhone. That way, you can still finish reading the news or your last ebook when you only have your phone with you.

    Also, by having an iTunes Distribution Model, the developers will be assured against piracy. The numbers with the Apps Store proved there’s a real market. And it will be even easier to buy and read a book/magazine/encyclopedia or a game.

    By looking the file size for (HD) movie, we can imagine than Apple will go for a complete software electronic distribution with iTunes (even for Desktop Apps). It will be faster, easier and even greener (which avoid paper, box, shipping, gas for transportation) and better security.

    By doing so, it will be the next step for Apple to “unmaterialize” a product in an electronic format (as they already did earlier with music, movie, tv shows, etc…). It would be possible to release from the smallest book size (the pure text book) to the largest comic book or even encyclopedia (with several large color pictures).

    Also, by providing a way to subscribe to non-free regular content (such newspaper), it would be an opportunity for some of website, blogger, etc… to release by themselves their own “weekly fanzine”, which could even be completed with some non-free audio/video Podcast…

    It will really create something new: an opportunity for game developers, for writers, for magazines/fanzine publishers, for bloggers/podcaster…

    And last thing (and not the least), today’s world there’s readers and lazy/busy guys. The readers have more books than movie as you said… but lazy guys prefer just buy audiobook (to just listen them when they work out, etc…).

    The best thing is to combine the both… and for example, having a “Book Store” in iTunes where you can search, find and buy for a book… which could be in eBook or AudioBook format… (as music and video music). It will be possible for some publishers to release a book in both format and then have more chance to sell it. Imagine having a new released book for $9.99 the eBook, $9.99 the AudioBook and $15.99 the both together….

    Wouldn’t it be great to have both and then be able to choose where you want continue your listening or reading? Just tape on a page icon during the listening and you will have the number of the page and the link to this page in the eBook Reader (and vice versa with the page and the link to the time position)

    Sorry for having been pretty long on my thoughts, but I hope you will appreciate them.

    Phil

  9. mikecane Says:

    Really, a link to the post would have sufficed.

  10. spidouz Says:

    Hi Mike,

    Sorry for that… to be honest, I did the post after I realized it was really too long for a comment…

    Please, feel free to delete or edit my first comment or replace it by this one with the link to the post:

    http://spidouz.wordpress.com/2008/09/03/next-apple-moves-will-be-books-and-games/

    Again, sorry for that…

    Phil

  11. mikecane Says:

    No problem, I let it through, as you can see. I just wondered why you took all that time when a link would have saved you the trouble!


  12. […] another post where my timing was off — July 22, 2008: And So The iPod Air Is Coming After All! — I wrote this: 4) This device will cannibalize sales from low-end MacBooks because it will […]


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