Mystery Apple event to focus on education, iTunes U, digital publishing?

The secretive Apple event planned for the end of Jan 2012 has attracted claims that it involves the textbook and digital publishing industry.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

According to recent reports, Apple will be holding an event in New York at the end of the month to discuss media-focused services. Several new claims have been made concerning the content of this secretive event, with rumours suggesting that it concerns digital publishing.

It is also possible that the announcement may have repercussions for those in the textbook publishing industry.

Clayton Morris shared some grapevine tidbits with the online community, saying that the event "has been long in the making," and "the announcements were close to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs." It was originally scheduled for late Fall, and eventually had to be postponed until the end of January.

Morris also states that the event will focus on iTunes University -- a distribution system for classroom content that can be used on iPhones and iPod Touches.

The iTunes U websites that institutions can create can either be public or private, and it is used by academic institutions across the globe. Some university examples of use include Yale, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Oxford, Cambridge and MIT.

Usually, you may expect the location for Apple events to be hosted in Silicon Valley. However, New York was apparently chosen because the city is a central location for textbook and publishing.

The initiative has apparently 'been in the making for years', and Steve Jobs was heavily involved in the project before he passed away.


(Source: ZDNet)

MacRumours suggests that Apple's recent filming of short interviews with textbook industry professionals will be used in promotional product launches.

Although their source warns there is no direct evidence linking the interviews to the highly anticipated media event, the timing of the recordings in conjunction with the event release seems to suggest preparations for the announcement.

Apple has been rather quiet on the subject of textbooks, e-readers and digital publishing. However, considering public knowledge that Steve Jobs wanted to revolutionize the digital publishing and textbook industry, perhaps they have been working on this platform intentionally in a quiet manner.

Build the platform, cause a media stir with a secretive New York event, and steal the best advantage you can from competing publishers at the beginning of a new year.

According to Good E Reader, one of the projects being announced is a new program for iBooks and Publishing. Their sources suggested that Apple intends to launch a new self-publishing platform to increase the content levels and size of the iBook store.

Currently, one of the few ways to have your work listed in the Apple bookstore as an independent and unpublished author is to go through third-party companies such as Smashwords, who submit your work to various online sellers.

If Apple are planning to extend the hand of their digital bookstore, then a key facet of their business strategy has to include user features that will allow for competition with Amazon and Banes and Noble, who are already running independent incentive programs to snap up new writers.

The book format supported will apparently be .EPUB, in order to make document conversion a smooth process and compatibility issues as minor as possible for a variety of users.

Ars Technica has similar suspicions on the subject of the Apple media event. Within a recent article they highlighted the iBook platform's current abilities, including features that allowed sound and video, that were recently demonstrated in a free eBook release by Apple.

Ars Technica says:

"Based on information from our own sources, we believe the announcement could likely involve support for the EPUB 3 standard, which enables a wider variety of multimedia and interaction features. Amazon recently announced its own similarly improved eBook standard using HTML5 and CSS3."

It seems that the digital publishing saga may about to take an interesting turn. It is possible that Apple will be using the event in order to entice consumers away from other publishers like Amazon, and offer a wider variety of interactive features to secure an eventual dominant market share.


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