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.

Comments

  1. Greg: well, it was an executive leak at Apple. So, take it for what it’s worth.

    FixedR6: I almost put the Twitter support in, but I didn’t want you to figure it out TOO fast! :-)

  2. Greg: well, it was an executive leak at Apple. So, take it for what it’s worth.

    FixedR6: I almost put the Twitter support in, but I didn’t want you to figure it out TOO fast! :-)

  3. You saw someone using a device that you’d never seen on the beach from a nearby chowder shop? You then interrupt your plans (leaving your family behind in the shop) to track this person down, who happens to also be an Apple executive. Said executive (at a company fanatical about secrecy) lets you play around with the innovative prototype, “buy” content from Amazon which you then also read, and reveals to you details about partner contributions, et cetera. Furthermore, the device sports a keyboard similar to a Blackberry which Steve Jobs mercilessly disparaged during the last Apple keynote.

    Hmmmm….

    This is so implausible that you should have waited a few hours to post it. That way you could at least claim it as an April Fool’s joke.

  4. You saw someone using a device that you’d never seen on the beach from a nearby chowder shop? You then interrupt your plans (leaving your family behind in the shop) to track this person down, who happens to also be an Apple executive. Said executive (at a company fanatical about secrecy) lets you play around with the innovative prototype, “buy” content from Amazon which you then also read, and reveals to you details about partner contributions, et cetera. Furthermore, the device sports a keyboard similar to a Blackberry which Steve Jobs mercilessly disparaged during the last Apple keynote.

    Hmmmm….

    This is so implausible that you should have waited a few hours to post it. That way you could at least claim it as an April Fool’s joke.

  5. I’m in New Zealand, and it is (actually was because its 12:16 now) April Fools day here too, but you’ve gotta have April 1st as the post date for it to count!

    :)

  6. I’m in New Zealand, and it is (actually was because its 12:16 now) April Fools day here too, but you’ve gotta have April 1st as the post date for it to count!

    :)

  7. and the date is?

    Took me a while though, maybe halfway down the post. You should have stopped at “Much easier than going to Borders and picking up a physical copy.”

  8. and the date is?

    Took me a while though, maybe halfway down the post. You should have stopped at “Much easier than going to Borders and picking up a physical copy.”

  9. I will admit you had me for a little while, but again if it had said April 1st at the top I don’t think you would have.

    I’ll go tell that to TechCrunch :D

  10. I will admit you had me for a little while, but again if it had said April 1st at the top I don’t think you would have.

    I’ll go tell that to TechCrunch :D

  11. Welcome back. I think “rotten strawberries” was a bit kind and generous for my tastes, but there ya go.

    See you and Maryam soon, I hope [I’m in Seattle in May].

  12. Welcome back. I think “rotten strawberries” was a bit kind and generous for my tastes, but there ya go.

    See you and Maryam soon, I hope [I’m in Seattle in May].

  13. Ok, so you not blogging to support Kathy Sierra is less important than (1) a scoop or (2) an April Fool’s joke.

    Yay you.

  14. Ok, so you not blogging to support Kathy Sierra is less important than (1) a scoop or (2) an April Fool’s joke.

    Yay you.

  15. I actually kinda share Sam’s sentiments – you took such a hard stance, yet something frivolous like April fools day is enough to break it?

    But of course, what should I have expected? The nature of the blogosphere is to get riled up in the moment then move to the next great thing.

    I commend for highlighting the issue and going so long without blogging, I just wish you had broken your silence for something more important.

  16. I actually kinda share Sam’s sentiments – you took such a hard stance, yet something frivolous like April fools day is enough to break it?

    But of course, what should I have expected? The nature of the blogosphere is to get riled up in the moment then move to the next great thing.

    I commend for highlighting the issue and going so long without blogging, I just wish you had broken your silence for something more important.

  17. And I thought I would be the first one to cry April Fools. Sigh..

    It has been April 1 in India for some 9 hours already :D

  18. […] Robert Scoble was at Half Moon Bay earlier today and saw somebody holding some interesting tech gadget that he’d never seen before. He went over to talk to him and it turned out to be an Apple executive. […]

  19. Got me . . . only because of the March 31 dateline. Still, it’s a great dream that oughta come true.

  20. Got me . . . only because of the March 31 dateline. Still, it’s a great dream that oughta come true.

  21. @25, and I third the sentiment. It was noble to take a stand on behalf of Kathy. But you just HAVE to blog to make and April Fools’ Joke.

    You’re worse than an alcoholic following off the wagon.

  22. @25, and I third the sentiment. It was noble to take a stand on behalf of Kathy. But you just HAVE to blog to make and April Fools’ Joke.

    You’re worse than an alcoholic following off the wagon.

  23. Thanks Scoble.
    My phone and emails got lit up.

    Since only 32 people got the proto, they narrowed it down to me.

    And now I’m fired.
    Happy for your little scoop?

  24. Thanks Scoble.
    My phone and emails got lit up.

    Since only 32 people got the proto, they narrowed it down to me.

    And now I’m fired.
    Happy for your little scoop?

  25. Half your readers couldnot see through the joke..Just proves that the blogosphere is filled with pseudo’s who cant make head or Tail of technology

  26. Half your readers couldnot see through the joke..Just proves that the blogosphere is filled with pseudo’s who cant make head or Tail of technology

  27. Lame. Lame, lame, lame. Thanks for once again contributing to the web’s annual degradation into COMPLETE uselessness.

    Man, you clearly have no idea how to tell a proper lie.

  28. Lame. Lame, lame, lame. Thanks for once again contributing to the web’s annual degradation into COMPLETE uselessness.

    Man, you clearly have no idea how to tell a proper lie.

  29. I am the executive mentioned in the article. Robert totally betrayed my trust, so I won’t ever tell him about the new gadgets we’re getting ready to ship, such as the iOven or the iTenderizer.

    And I’m totally telling Steve, Robert. He blogs about you every day. You should read him. It’s Scoble this, Scoble that. But now it’s over.

    You’re in our black list now (we call it iList internally). From now on, you can expect lots of spoiled apple crates in the mail every week until we launch this new once-secret product. The Fuji smell awful when they go bad. So how do you like them apples?

    By the way, the little thing runs on Intel so it totally runs Vista as well. A bit slow though, and the batteries run out in 30 seconds.

    :-)

  30. I am the executive mentioned in the article. Robert totally betrayed my trust, so I won’t ever tell him about the new gadgets we’re getting ready to ship, such as the iOven or the iTenderizer.

    And I’m totally telling Steve, Robert. He blogs about you every day. You should read him. It’s Scoble this, Scoble that. But now it’s over.

    You’re in our black list now (we call it iList internally). From now on, you can expect lots of spoiled apple crates in the mail every week until we launch this new once-secret product. The Fuji smell awful when they go bad. So how do you like them apples?

    By the way, the little thing runs on Intel so it totally runs Vista as well. A bit slow though, and the batteries run out in 30 seconds.

    :-)

  31. Fuck you Scoble…
    Here I was going “hell yes, somebody is finally going to make a competent e-reader”. Then I look at the damn calendar. Why must you crush my dreams so…
    I just want a damn e-reader ;(

  32. Fuck you Scoble…
    Here I was going “hell yes, somebody is finally going to make a competent e-reader”. Then I look at the damn calendar. Why must you crush my dreams so…
    I just want a damn e-reader ;(

  33. I have to say, even though this was an amusing post, I am a bit disappointed to see Robert break his “week of blog silence” in support of Kathy Sierra for something as unimportant as an April Fool’s joke.

  34. I have to say, even though this was an amusing post, I am a bit disappointed to see Robert break his “week of blog silence” in support of Kathy Sierra for something as unimportant as an April Fool’s joke.

  35. Big News On April 1st

    After Arrington’s acquisition and his ban from the Internet and after Scobles latest discovery there are more and even bigger news.

  36. Not being an Apple fan I did not catch the little clues. But I was about to become one. If Apple is smart they’ll make this product. After all, you’ve created the demand at no cost to them.

  37. Not being an Apple fan I did not catch the little clues. But I was about to become one. If Apple is smart they’ll make this product. After all, you’ve created the demand at no cost to them.

  38. After one too many scotches last night I wake up this morning, fire up the RSS feeds and instantly get jolted awake by this post.

    You really had me Scoble. Outstanding 4/1 prank :-)

  39. After one too many scotches last night I wake up this morning, fire up the RSS feeds and instantly get jolted awake by this post.

    You really had me Scoble. Outstanding 4/1 prank :-)

  40. While Sam’s is ‘close’ to the beach via the adirondack chairs, seeing a “device” on “someone down on the beach”, would half require a telescope. Plus not likely given the fairly festive New Englandish environs of Sam’s. So yah lost me, first sentence. :)

    And with someone on the beach “quickly running” towards you like a crazy person, a better device would be a taser. ;)

  41. While Sam’s is ‘close’ to the beach via the adirondack chairs, seeing a “device” on “someone down on the beach”, would half require a telescope. Plus not likely given the fairly festive New Englandish environs of Sam’s. So yah lost me, first sentence. :)

    And with someone on the beach “quickly running” towards you like a crazy person, a better device would be a taser. ;)

  42. Hah, good times. I’m assuming everything I read today’s an A1 joke ;-)

    And don’t worry about the trolls (I know you’re not, but anyways). I’d do the same thing. There’s nothing wrong with a little fun, and I know Kathy wouldn’t mind either :)

  43. Hah, good times. I’m assuming everything I read today’s an A1 joke ;-)

    And don’t worry about the trolls (I know you’re not, but anyways). I’d do the same thing. There’s nothing wrong with a little fun, and I know Kathy wouldn’t mind either :)

  44. Welcome back. Good post. Critique: I prefer a post of this genre to to hew closer to the line of plausability. This one piled the doo doo higher and higher till it collapsed of its own weight. The detail about Patrick’s reaction was too blatant a tip-off.

  45. Welcome back. Good post. Critique: I prefer a post of this genre to to hew closer to the line of plausability. This one piled the doo doo higher and higher till it collapsed of its own weight. The detail about Patrick’s reaction was too blatant a tip-off.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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!

  49. 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!

  50. @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.

  51. @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.

  52. 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 !

  53. 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 !

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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?

  59. 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?

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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

  63. 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

  64. […] Apple collaborating with Amazon, Google, and Cingular on new iReader? I was going to not blog until Monday, but I saw something today that just has to be blogged about. Seriously, on Monday […] […]

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

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

  67. 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…

  68. 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…

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. Paper books will never die – well, not until it’s decided we need to ditch ‘em for the sake of the environment..

    E-books are great for travelling, less to lug about etc, but you can’t beat the feeling of getting all warm and comfy and turning the pages of a good novel..

  74. Paper books will never die – well, not until it’s decided we need to ditch ‘em for the sake of the environment..

    E-books are great for travelling, less to lug about etc, but you can’t beat the feeling of getting all warm and comfy and turning the pages of a good novel..