Last week, Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, delivered a speech to his digital staff at the Neiman Jornalism Lab where he spoke freely about the New York Times’ strategy to stay relevant in a world where print media is “dying.” The speech was supposed to be off-the-record, but video of the event has leaked out and includes an interesting tidbit where Keller appears to spill the beans on the upcoming Apple Tablet, or should we call it a “Slate”?
Keller touched on a wide variety of topics, including ideas for saving publishing and the importance of getting involved with social media. But things got interesting when Keller began to discuss the importance of technology in keeping the New York Times on the cutting edge of news reporting.
We want to make sure have the best possible working relationship between technology, product, and the newsroom. We understand that the New York Times is has to be a technology company as well as a journalism company. We want to make sure that that collaboration is optimized to achieve our journalistic and commercial ambitions.
Next, Keller discussed the importance of the web and in delivering news content to a wide variety of mobile platforms, and in doing so, he let out a little something about Apple’s rumored tablet plans.
We need to figure out the right journalistic product to deliver to mobile platforms and devices. I’m hoping we can get the newsroom more actively involved in the challenge of delivering our best journalism in the form of Times Reader, iPhone apps, WAP, or the impending Apple slate, or whatever comes after that.
Oh snap! Keller may have just spilled the beans on the product that many are referring to as the Apple tablet, but that in reality, remains as much of a mystery as ever.
You can check out Keller’s speech below, and the pertinent portion of the talk begins about 8 minutes and 22 seconds in.
Keller’s statement corroborates other reports
A few weeks ago, reports surfaced that Apple was reaching out to publishers for a device that was going to “redefine print.” Interestingly, Gizmodo reported at the time that 2 individuals with ties to the New York Times had informed them that they had been “approached by Apple to talk about putting the paper on a ‘new device.'” Clearly, any high level discussions and negotiations between Apple and the New York Times would have involved Keller, a fact which makes his recent statements all the more telling.
Other publishers reportedly contacted by Apple also include McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press, and it’s now starting to look as if Apple’s new tablet will be a heck of a lot more than simply a larger version of the iPod Touch with always-on Internet connectivity. And rather than focusing on rich media such as video playback and music, it may very well be aiming to redefine the print industry in the same way that the iPod and iTunes redefined music.
We should also point out that in late September, the French language Apple Site Mac4Ever reported that while an incarnation of an Apple table does exist and is in the works, it’s far removed “from the concepts that have been announced so far by the rumor sites.” Mac4Ever also happens to be the site that accurately predicted Apple’s recent release of new iMacs, a new multi-touch mouse, and a new Apple Remote. So yeah, their track record has been spot-on as of late.
What’s interesting about Keller’s statement about a “slate” is that it also jives with a somewhat similar leak from Digg founder Kevin Rose. Last week, Rose was out enjoying a few libations when he ran into a female Apple employee who supposedly had some down and dirty details about Apple’s upcoming tablet, only she said it wasn’t a tablet really. Rose went on to post a series of tweets about the conversation, as you can see below.
Now you can only put so much trust into info gleaned from a supposed Apple employee you run into while you’re out drinking, but the tidbit that “well, we wouldn’t call it a tablet” seems to jive not only with Keller’s statement, but also with recent reports from Gizmodo and Mac4Ever.
So while we may not know exactly what Apple’s working on, it’s upcoming and rumored tablet, or slate, or whatever you wanna call it, is starting to look more and more like a device focused on publishing and print.