Apple tablet: New details leaked

January 21, 2010, 1:31 AM UTC

“Secret” talks with publishers appear within hours in the Wall Street Journal

Image: Apple Inc.

Here’s some free advice for Silicon Valley companies visiting New York City: Don’t say anything to a newspaper or book publishing executive that you wouldn’t want to see on a front page the next day.

Case in point: Details of Apple’s (AAPL) eleventh-hour “secret” negotiations with publishers, which and 9to5 Mac reported on Wednesday morning, turned up Wednesday evening in the Wall Street Journal‘s electronic edition, presumably for publication in Thursday’s paper.

The piece, entitled Apple Sees New Money in Old Media (subscription required), is packed with new details about Apple’s efforts to get high-quality content on the device expected to be unveiled at its “latest creation” event next week.

Among the highlights:

  • The tablet, which comes with a virtual keyboard, is designed to be shared by multiple family members to read news, check e-mail and leave messages for one another with virtual sticky notes.
  • Apple has been working on face-recognition software that would tell the machine who is using it, but that technology might not be ready for primetime.
  • Apple is asking publishers — including the New York Times (NYT), Conde Nast and HarperCollins (NWS) — to work with them to find new ways of presenting and selling content from books, newspapers and magazines.
  • The company has also been talking to CBS (CBS) and Disney (DIS) about setting up monthly subscription services, but Hollywood is resisting Apple’s plan to offer a “best of TV”  service consisting of four to six shows from each channel.
  • Apple is working with videogame publisher Electronic Arts (ERTS) to show off the tablet’s potential as a game machine.
  • To lead its development of electronic textbooks, Apple has hired Tracy Augustine, a former executive at Pearson Education (PSO).

“With the new tablet device that is debuting next week,” the Journal declares, “Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs is betting he can reshape businesses like textbooks, newspapers and television much the way his iPod revamped the music industry—and expand Apple’s influence and revenue as a content middleman.”

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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