2010: tablets over ereaders

Apple tablet?Everyone’s saying it. I’m jumping on board. Whatever your feelings about tablets – they should exist, they shouldn’t, they’re pointless, they’re great – there’s no denying the potential market impact of a quality tablet. Quality is the key factor here. Much like ereaders, which no one cared about until the Kindle came around, tablets need a frontrunner, something to rally around and aspire to beat. My bet, like so many others, is on the Apple tablet.

It’s not just that I trust Apple, which I do, but that the market is so ripe for a Apple created device. The world has fallen in love with the iPhone and the iPod Touch, the App Store continues to grow at alarming rates, and everyone is imitating multi-touch wherever it makes sense and in plenty of places it doesn’t. Imagine your iPod Touch on ‘roids, powerful enough to run 1080p video, do some simple editing, and wirelessly post to YouTube. Did I mention you can surf the web and read your ebooks? How much would you pay for a device like that? $500? $600? More?

Amazon and Barnes & Noble don’t think the consumer’s financial tolerance is so high. I do. I think people would be willing to spend as much as a grand on an Apple tablet because it could potentially do everything I mentioned above. In the face of that kind of device, the Kindle starts to look a lot like the Peek, specializing in a service handled just as well, if not better, by a more versatile device.

The one thing that could stall tablets for another year is premature release. Everyone knows the tablet is the next big thing, but if it gets rushed, consumers could see the failed device as a reason to buy an ereader. Wait until the tablet people get it right before diving in.

What do you think? Is this the beginning of the end for ereaders? Will they still have their place in the market? Can they get cheap enough to stay relevant?