Apple collaborating with Amazon, Google, and Cingular on new iReader?

UPDATE: some people didn’t get that this entire post was an April Fools joke. Sorry for being too realistic.

I was going to not blog until Monday, but I saw something today that just has to be blogged about. Seriously, on Monday I’ll be on CNN with Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke talking about this week’s events. I spoke against more rules or other infringments on our freedom of speech. No matter how vile or disgusting that speech is. That said, I reserve my right to take a week off to point out the rotten strawberries sitting on our meme shelf.

Back to what I saw: today we were eating at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay when I saw someone down on the beach using a device I didn’t recognize. Being a geek I quickly ran down to the beach to see what it was. Turns out he was an Apple executive (he asked me not to name him) and tried to hide the device when I came near, but I eventually talked him into showing it off to me.

Apple, he told me, is looking to bring out an iPhone family of devices that’ll extend your iPhone into new usage patterns. The device that he was carrying around was built by a long-rumored Tablet team inside Apple. The executive also had an early iPhone production sample — we’ll talk about that later and how it works with this new device.

Remember the Sony Reader? Well, it’s sorta like that. It uses a similar screen. Why? Cause Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ives found that they couldn’t comfortably use their iPhones in bright sunlight. Especially to read long portions of text. Since Jobs is an avid book reader, and Ives reads a ton of RSS feeds (the executive says he brags that he reads as many feeds as Scoble) they were looking for a new device that’d make it possible to read, while using the wireless features of the iPhone.

Anyway the device looked just like the Sony Reader, except it was white. It also was slightly longer than a Sony Reader cause it’s has a keyboard, Blackberry style, at the bottom of the device. It also has a red stripe along the side that contains an innovative navigation device so you can click on certain parts of documents, or links in those parts, to visit other pages. That “iStrip” is what makes it possible to read RSS feeds and click on links.

But that’s about where the similarities with the Sony Reader end. The device has nice, large buttons on either side of the screen to go forward and back between pages. It also has a keyboard. And, comes with some really unique software that go way beyond what Sony offers.

First, there are two models. One costs $499 and works wirelessly with an iPhone. The other is $599 and comes with a built-in Cingular wireless modem (and free service for a year).

Then on the device there’s a really nice UI (it’s Apple, remember!) Lets you get quickly to books, feeds, newspapers, magazines.

I only had time to try some feeds and books. The book reader is magical. You can buy any Amazon ebook and have it delivered to the machine in about one minute, thanks to the Bluetooth networking capability with the iPhone. I bought a copy of Long Tail and was reading it in just a little more than 70 seconds. Much easier than going to Borders and picking up a physical copy.

Then I was paging through the book. The screen was bright, sharp (thanks to new font sharpening technology that makes the fonts 30% sharper than similar technology from Microsoft called “ClearType.” He said they found out a new way of filtering visual noise out that makes our eyes perceive the font as sharper.)

He told me that Amazon built the book buying and reading software, together with an Apple team, and you can buy a variety of books instantly using the wireless capabilities. It was easy to use and beautiful. I instantly wanted one to read books on. When you see this device you’ll probably write “paper books are dead.”

Each page doesn’t appear instantly, as it does on an LCD screen. Instead this screen technology actually has really tiny balls that spin over to reveal either black or white (or up to 256 shades of gray — he said a color version is in development but won’t come out until 2008). The advantage to using this kind of screen? It works in bright sunlight, like at the beach. It also takes very little power and never is turned off. Once the device generates an image on the screen it no longer needs any power. He told me he read four books already without charging the battery (more than a dozen hours of constant reading).

The device was totally remarkable. I want one. He told me they probably would ship in July or August “we need some reason for you to come back into an Apple store after you pick up your iPhone in June.”

Oh, I forgot about the feed reader. It’s a unique version of Google’s Reader, built to use the “iStrip” navigation device. It’ll come by default with some feeds, they aren’t sure how many. I saw TechCrunch. LifeHacker. BoingBoing. Digg. Scripting News. I signed in with my name and the device instantly was synched up with feeds I hadn’t yet read either. One other thing I noticed is that there was a “Steve Jobs blog.” The exec grabbed it out of my hands when I was about to read that.

Well, I went back up to Sam’s Chowder House, told everyone about the new device, told Maryam that she’s going to need to wait on the crib purchase, cause I had to have one this summer. Our new baby can sleep on the floor, I figure, our gadget budget is just gonna have to get strained more this summer than I was planning on.

My 13-year-old son Patrick’s reaction? (He’s a total Apple freak). “You had me there dad until you said Steve Jobs was doing a blog. That was really stretching it.”

UPDATE: Happy 10th Anniversary to Dave Winer’s Scripting News (and that’s no April Fools’ joke!)

Oh, and I am not going to post any more April Fools’ stuff to my link blog. There are SOME legitimate news items to send through the system today.

215 thoughts on “Apple collaborating with Amazon, Google, and Cingular on new iReader?

  1. Sorry iReader is a product for a company called syntactica (http://www.syntactica.com).

    They have used this name since it’s creation and the domain name since 1994.

    Go a head, type http://www.ireader.com and see what returns.

    Here we go again Apple using someone elses name for their own needs and apparantly with no consideration.

    No it is not hardware, it is software, and pretty decent at what it is designed to do.

    It’s a very small company, so I guess big bad APPL could just squash them. Either by acquisition then squash their tech, or sick their man y lawyers after them and make it too costly to challenge.

    If you have not used the product, give it a try before you slam it or rant some Apple Zealot thread.

  2. I got owned by this. I even told other people and had a philosophical debate about the merits and consequences of such technology.

    Chris Carfi just told me it was an April Fool’s joke. But, seriously, I want this product. I’m bummed.

  3. I got owned by this. I even told other people and had a philosophical debate about the merits and consequences of such technology.

    Chris Carfi just told me it was an April Fool’s joke. But, seriously, I want this product. I’m bummed.

  4. George Plimpton and Sid Finch

    Ain’t that the truth…spin a yarn worthy of an Academy, but it’s Sidd, amazing how it took, but 168 mph was pushing all reason. I think the Taco Liberty Bell, Nixon for President, the Left-Handed Whopper, stand out, but then Webnode takes the cake, of course basically the dot.com 1997-2004 era was one April Fools after another.

    And who can forget John Dvorak’s ‘Drunk Driving on the Net’ bit, that one took…

  5. George Plimpton and Sid Finch

    Ain’t that the truth…spin a yarn worthy of an Academy, but it’s Sidd, amazing how it took, but 168 mph was pushing all reason. I think the Taco Liberty Bell, Nixon for President, the Left-Handed Whopper, stand out, but then Webnode takes the cake, of course basically the dot.com 1997-2004 era was one April Fools after another.

    And who can forget John Dvorak’s ‘Drunk Driving on the Net’ bit, that one took…

  6. Brother!!! What feeble attempts both this and the Google thing were. Where is George Plimpton and Sid Finch when you need them?

  7. Brother!!! What feeble attempts both this and the Google thing were. Where is George Plimpton and Sid Finch when you need them?

  8. Great to see your words again Robert! I just wish Apple (and all the rest) would come out with something that does everything for like $25,000. We could save some time and maybe get a deal :)

    Always,
    Phil

  9. Great to see your words again Robert! I just wish Apple (and all the rest) would come out with something that does everything for like $25,000. We could save some time and maybe get a deal :)

    Always,
    Phil

  10. Very Good Robert! Quite creative and well written until the very end.

    Regarding your resolution to not post, you made it and you break it. We are glad you are back with your writings. But remember that you lost some credibility if you make a similar resolution again in future. A better way would have been pre-plan. I know it is hard but you could have said in your resolution as no more blogging for the rest of the week or no more blogging for the rest of the month (and post it few hour late) or something of that sort. As you always say — it is always better to under promise and over deliver rather than the other way round.

  11. Very Good Robert! Quite creative and well written until the very end.

    Regarding your resolution to not post, you made it and you break it. We are glad you are back with your writings. But remember that you lost some credibility if you make a similar resolution again in future. A better way would have been pre-plan. I know it is hard but you could have said in your resolution as no more blogging for the rest of the week or no more blogging for the rest of the month (and post it few hour late) or something of that sort. As you always say — it is always better to under promise and over deliver rather than the other way round.

  12. damn you scoble… was getting excited there…

    no fair.. apple rumor hoax on april fools day

    any news on the apple/emi press conference tomorrow announcing non drm EMI music?

  13. damn you scoble… was getting excited there…

    no fair.. apple rumor hoax on april fools day

    any news on the apple/emi press conference tomorrow announcing non drm EMI music?

  14. LMAO..oh dear lord, now Scoble posts a couple days early and people are all in a snit because it was an April Fool’s joke?

    Yeesh.

    Dude, that was brilliant, but I think you shoulda gotten someone to fake a “long range” pic or something.

  15. LMAO..oh dear lord, now Scoble posts a couple days early and people are all in a snit because it was an April Fool’s joke?

    Yeesh.

    Dude, that was brilliant, but I think you shoulda gotten someone to fake a “long range” pic or something.

  16. This is an example of why the Internet is so discredited as an accountable source of information. (And, on a side note, some people’s unawareness that the world has more than just one time zone is equally appalling).

    This is, also, why paper books will never be dead: as long as the information that keeps being distributed on the Internet keeps being in this tone, I don’t see much competition for printed sources. Gutenberg 4; Tim Berners-Lee, 1.

  17. This is an example of why the Internet is so discredited as an accountable source of information. (And, on a side note, some people’s unawareness that the world has more than just one time zone is equally appalling).

    This is, also, why paper books will never be dead: as long as the information that keeps being distributed on the Internet keeps being in this tone, I don’t see much competition for printed sources. Gutenberg 4; Tim Berners-Lee, 1.

  18. I am glad to see Apple pushing the envelope into the arena of unnecessary items.. “I’ve got to have this or I will bust” mentality. When business people get together and try to find a cure for cancer or make life easier to deal with your pain, they stick the neck out & their pocketbooks as well.

    Leave it to Apple to make an MP3 player keyring into a $400 item.

    Maybe the Emperor really does have clothes !

  19. I am glad to see Apple pushing the envelope into the arena of unnecessary items.. “I’ve got to have this or I will bust” mentality. When business people get together and try to find a cure for cancer or make life easier to deal with your pain, they stick the neck out & their pocketbooks as well.

    Leave it to Apple to make an MP3 player keyring into a $400 item.

    Maybe the Emperor really does have clothes !

  20. @51. Not necessarily. Just cause folks play along, doesn’t mean they don’t know what’s what. IMHO it’s much more in the spirit of the day to perpetuate a fraud than to proclaim you’re smart enough not to be fooled. I have a longer rant about this on my blog.

  21. @51. Not necessarily. Just cause folks play along, doesn’t mean they don’t know what’s what. IMHO it’s much more in the spirit of the day to perpetuate a fraud than to proclaim you’re smart enough not to be fooled. I have a longer rant about this on my blog.

  22. Dave #83: actually the “tiny balls” is one of the most accurate things in this post. That’s precisely how the screen in the Sony Reader works!

  23. Dave #83: actually the “tiny balls” is one of the most accurate things in this post. That’s precisely how the screen in the Sony Reader works!

  24. Since Amazon almost always screws up and releases product information prematurely I’m sure they will have a purchase page for this April Fools iReader by noon today. :-)

    You know when you lost me? When you mentioned that you found an Apple Exec on the beach with the device. If this were a true story Steve Jobs would have had a CSI team at every Execs house who had the device so that he could determine who leaked.

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