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Apple's Tablet Effort Aiming to Redefine Print Media?

Gizmodo reports on a number of different tips and tidbits it has received in recent months that together paint a picture of Apple's goals for its much-rumored tablet computer. Building on a report yesterday claiming that the new device will have a focus on translating print media to an electronic platform, Gizmodo cites sources claiming that Apple has talked to The New York Times and several textbook and magazine publishers about various aspects of moving their content into the digital realm.

Multiple sources associated with The New York Times reportedly claim that Apple approached the newspaper in June about translating its content for use on a "new device", an extension of the newspapers currently digital efforts on the iPhone and other platforms. On the textbook front, another source indicated several months ago that publishers McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press have been working to bring their content into the iTunes ecosystem, a concept that appears to be similar to that employed by CourseSmart with its eTextbook offerings for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Finally, Apple reportedly recently met with magazine executives to pitch its vision of the future of that industry, showing off mockups of interactive content as an early step in what have presumably been continued talks. Together, these claims suggest that Apple is aggressively pursuing a digital evolution of print media, with its tablet computer as a key element of the push.

Some I've talked to believe the initial content will be mere translations of text to tablet form. But while the idea of print on the Tablet is enticing, it's nothing the Kindle or any E-Ink device couldn't do. The eventual goal is to have publishers create hybridized content that draws from audio, video, interactive graphics in books, magazines and newspapers, where paper layouts would be static. And with release dates for Microsoft's Courier set to be quite far away and Kindle stuck with relatively static e-ink, it appears that Apple is moving towards a pole position in distribution of this next-generation print content. First, it'll get its feet wet with more basic repurposing of the stuff found on dead trees today.