[T]ime spent online is largely time spent reading (and writing), whether email (57 billion messages sent in 2007 by IDC's estimate), blogs (over 70 million, with 1.5 million posts per day, according to Technorati), or more traditional online news and entertainment sources. People read more than they ever have, thanks to the Internet, and new forms of reading are appearing all the time. Witness the Japanese "cell phone novel," meant to be read in serialized form on the ubiquitous mobile phone. The Economist reports that since appearing in 2001, the genre has grown to become an $82 million business in 2006, with some ebooks receiving over a hundred thousand downloads per day.
I've called out all these numbers in order to encourage Apple to acknowledge that people read vast quantities of text and to focus hardware and software design efforts on making it easier to read on the iPod, iPhone, and future devices. The iPod and iPhone can be used to read some online content now, along with small bits of text synced from a Mac, but the experience could be significantly improved with native support for PDF, better user interface support for stored text documents, and more.
But I, speaking as a reader and a publisher, would really like to see Apple create a larger version of the iPod touch optimized not just for a better video experience, but also for a best-of-breed reading experience. Apple has the hardware design and user interface chops that Amazon lacked when creating the Kindle, plus the knowledge gleaned from the iPhone and the iPod touch in terms of underlying operating system, physical design, and wireless capabilities. Equally important is the iTunes Store, which offers an unparalleled browsing and shopping experience for digital media - it could be extended to support commercial ebooks, subscription-based periodicals, and free blogs in exactly the way it currently supports commercial audiobooks, TV show season passes, and free podcasts.
This one got picked up by Sullivan. So who knows? Maybe a buzz is really building here.
Update -- (Fake) Steve Jobs responds:
Honestly, people. If we wanted your ideas we'd hire you. It's ridiculous. That's not where we get our ideas. Yet people keep trying... Could we do this? Um yeah. In our sleep. Will we? When the time is right I'll let you know.