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Apple's tablet announcement: games could be a focus, music unlikely


With Apple expected to introduce the long-awaited tablet next week, the company's content partners will likely play a part in the unveiling. While there is an indication games might play an important role in the presentation, music labels are not expected to be a major presence.

Running down a list of who will and will not likely join Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to unveil the 10-inch touchscreen device next week, Peter Kafka of MediaMemo sent word that big music labels were only recently briefed about the tablet, and only as a "courtesy." It is expected that the iTunes LP format could work with the tablet, but Kafka said not to expect a focus on music with the tablet's introduction.

"One label official told me Apple has expressed an interest in selling higher-quality audio files via iTunes, and I'm sure the labels would be happy to do so, if they could charge a premium for them," he said. "But that discussion didn't seem to be tethered to a tablet."

Kafka also expects The New York Times, "enhanced e-book" providers like HarperCollins, and video providers (likely Disney, where Jobs is the largest individual shareholder) to have a presence at the event.

It's likely that new media content will receive the greatest focus next week, as it is expected that all existing iTunes media, including music and movies, will work with the tablet.

Apple is expected to introduce the hardware next Wednesday, Jan. 27, at an event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. It is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

When invitations for the event went out Monday, among those asked to come was gaming blog Kotaku. Writer Stephen Totilo expressed some surprise over the receipt, as the site's Apple-related coverage is mostly limited to iPhone games.

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal called the forthcoming tablet a "multimedia device" that will allow users to do a wide range of activities, including play games. It is also expected that the tablet will be able to run existing iPhone software once it is modified to run in a range of screen resolutions.

If games were a focus of the tablet, it shouldn't be a great surprise. Apple and its App Store developers have found great success in making games for the existing iPhone and iPod touch platforms. Last year, well-known game developers like EA and Konami began to embrace the App Store and bring some of their high-profile franchises.

Of course, aside from the tablet, the gaming related invitation could also be centered around the possible unveiling of iPhone OS 4.0, which would likely play a part on future iPhone models.

With more than 100,000 applications in 20 categories, the App Store has a huge selection of games that have been a major factor in the platform's success. Earlier this month, Apple revealed that more than 3 billion downloads had come from the App Store.