The General Purpose Device Will Win The Day

That’s part of Steve Job’s answer to a question about the Kindle asked by David Pogue a few months ago. He also mentioned that Apple doesn’t see e-books as a big market right now pointing to never sharing exactly how many Kindles it sells. John Gruber at Daring Fireball sheds some light on Apple’s position regarding a Kindle-like dedicated e-book reader in his post “The Tablet“:

Not enough people read it to make it worth creating a dedicated device that is to reading what the original iPod was to music.

The premise is that almost everyone listens to music, but not so with reading books, magazines or newspapers. I’m not so sure; it depends on the generation. I’m 38. Those who are quite a bit older tend to read more books, magazines, and newspapers, but not on the computer and certainly not on something like a Kindle. The same folks do listen to music but not in the way the younger generation listens to music: the older generation listens to music as background to enhance the ambience. For the younger, listening to music is more of a portable and personal experience.

Maybe it’s because I live in Silicon Valley but most of those toting iPods and iPhones are generally younger. I haven’t seen many reading books, let alone on a Kindle. I did see one person who works for Microsoft with a Kindle at a local Le Boulanger and he was probably in his forties. My point is this: a dedicated reading device like the Kindle has a very limited market not because no one reads but because those who do prefer to read, read the real thing and the younger who are enamored with high-tech devices don’t read as much.

Gruber also poses the question: “If you already have an iPhone and a MacBook; why would you want this?” Gruber’s best guess: “The Tablet is something you’ll buy instead of a MacBook.” Apple’s tablet, whatever the real name, will be the very first next generation computer, redefining what a portable computer is, according to Gruber: “I think The Tablet is nothing short of Apple’s reconception of personal computing.”

Again, I’m not so sure. The iPhone, even with all 100,000 apps, is primary an experience consumption device. You listen to music, watch videos, surf the Internet, read ebooks, access your bank accounts, etc. On the other end of the spectrum is the general purpose device like the MacBook that allows you to do all that the iPhone does but in addition enables you to create: create music, create videos, create websites, etc. Yes, you can take pictures and record videos using the iPhone but if you want to be creative with them you’ll need to sync to your MacBook, load up Photoshop, iMovie, etc. and get to work.

Will The Tablet primarily be an experience consumption device or a device that lets you create? Depending on the answer The Tablet will replace your MacBook, your iPhone, or both.