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The Roundup July 27

Apple tablet prototype

Popular Mechanics fancies up an Apple tablet prototype.

Sounds like Apple is going to kill the Kindle, too.

Apple is racing to offer a portable tablet-sized computer in time for the Christmas shopping season, in what the entertainment industry hopes will be a new revolution.

The device is expected to be launched alongside new content deals, including some aimed at stimulating sales of CD-length music, according to people briefed on the project. The touch-sensitive computer will have a screen that may be up to 10 inches diagonally. . . .

Book publishers have been in talks with Apple and are optimistic about being included in the computer, which could provide an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Reader and a forthcoming device from Plastic Logic, recently allied with Barnes & Noble.

“It would be a colour, flat-panel TV to the old-fashioned, black and white TV of the Kindle,” one publishing executive said. . . .

Instead, the new machine could cost between $600 and $1,000, according to Oppenheimer & Co analyst Yair Reiner. “I think it will have a lot of the functionality of the iPod touch, but will be quite a bit bigger,” he said.

(“Apple targets new player revolution,” Financial Times, July 27) So it’s going to be three or four hundred dollars more than a Kindle, but it comes with music, video, and games. The reports on Apple’s new tablet have been fairly disjointed, but when you add in the e-book reader, it looks like Apple is going to leap several years ahead of Sony and Amazon. As well as Apple, too.

The cable era comes to NBC.

NBC Universal this morning shook up its floundering network entertainment team once again, consolidating its sprawling television empire into a single group and installing a no-nonsense veteran to try to clean up the mess.

Jeff Gaspin, a low-key executive who has been overseeing NBC Universal’s successful cable television group, assumed management of all of the company’s television properties including its problem-plagued division: NBC and its television production studio. . . .

Just two months before the critical launch of Jay Leno into prime time, Zucker realized that he had to make a change and could no longer ignore NBC’s festering management problems. Silverman had not demonstrated the leadership or programming Midas touch that Zucker had expected when he hired him two years ago in another dramatic shakeup. Instead of restoring the peacock to glory, NBC has dug itself into a deeper hole.

(“entertainment team: Jeff Gaspin up, Ben Silverman out,” Los Angeles Times, July 27) Maybe Jeff Immelt hasn’t noticed that it’s Zucker who should be shown the door. Michael Eisner once said to me that success is the surest sign of imminent failure in the broadcasting industry. Well, in Zuckerland, failure is the surest sign of imminent failure.

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