As Apple celebrates its part of 1.2 billion app downloads last week, those centuries-past, paper-based tomes are the focus of the company's first big news in 2012. While we're sure it is hard at work on a budget iPad and a new iOS, Apple is trying to boost its share of the ebook market that Amazon rules.
Read On In 2012
With Amazon's Kindle range proving hugely popular and pointing the way forward for traditional book publishers, Apple has announced a press event for later this month in New York. Early indications are that this is where it will try to woo those same publishers to its iBooks store with new features and perhaps new publishing structures.
While print may be dying, digital reading is doing a great job of keeping authors in work, uncovering new writers who wouldn't stand a chance in the old-world scrap-pile approach and encouraging digital natives to keep the simple hobby of reading alive. While most readers focus on novels, Apple could be looking at bring educational texts, periodicals and other content to its app's shelves.
Big Bookings Ahead?
Apple came late to the ebook party with iBooks, but with massive use of iTunes and the App Store (there were 1.2 billion downloads in the last week of December), it could command a decent slice of the market, although Amazon's device-agnostic Kindle strategy makes it unlikely to be threatened.
Whatever the upcoming event involves, it could see more books coming to the store at better prices, perhaps an integration between iBooks and the Newsstand app to allow books and magazines to sit better together.
UPDATE: Apple has confirmed the event is about the education and texbook sector. Taking place on January 19, there is little detail, but most likely an iPad in schools or colleges initiative is on the cards along with wide access to published textbooks.
It could also be used to encourage new writers to bring their stories to the book store directly, offering deals similar to those that Amazon runs. Either way, if Apple is dedicating a whole event to this field, then everyone else (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others) will be sitting up and taking notice.
Apple's Other Pie
Tech lovers will be more keen on what Apple has planned for later in the year and while it is very unlikely that Apple will make any new hardware announcements at this event, the clock is ticking for a new iPad. With the phenomenal sales of the Kindle Fire, Apple has to respond with a more-friendly priced tablet.
Beyond that, personally, I'd love to see something big in the next major iOS update, like a whole new interface option. More realistically, many iPhone 4S users are still waiting for iOS 5.1 to fix their battery issues.
Beyond those pressing demands, there's the wait for the iPhone 5. With millions of iPhones sold over Christmas means Apple will be in no rush to launch, but has to produce something special to show it isn't losing its edge. Those efforts are now led by Sir Jonathon Ive, rewarded for his efforts in The Queen's New Year Honours list.