Another day, another Apple media-related tablet rumour, and this time the leak’s coming from way down under, Australia. That’s where the Sydney Morning Herald has reportedly been chatting with high level media people as it ties deals together to present Slate as the world’s best eBook reader.

Apple’s talking with media execs to firm up deals to get their content available to the device, tipped to be a larger version of the iPhone that’s small enough for a handbag but won’t fit your pocket.

The company has reportedly shared device specifications with media companies in order to find out if they want to offer their content to it.

This news follows word from New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, who told staff in a meeting he didn’t know would be filmed and published as video online: "I’m hoping we can get the newsroom more actively involved in the challenge of delivering our best journalism in the form of Times Reader, iPhone apps, WAP, or the impending Apple slate, or whatever comes after that."

In Australia, Fairfax Media’s director of marketing and newspaper sales, Robert Whitehead, hinted that he was aware of the upcoming device in August.

"We’re continuously examining all options for extending the reach of our mastheads and we’ll be very interested to see what Apple comes up with," he said.

The report suggests Apple is offering a much better deal than Amazon does for publishers launching Kindle content – while Amazon takes the lion’s share of the 70.30 split, Apple’s deal sees the computer company taking just 30 percent.

This likely reflects Apple CEO Steve Job’s recent comments to the New York Times, in which he characterised eBooks as “not a big business” for Apple, predicted standalone eBook readers won’t do as well as multi-use devices, and voiced doubt at the depth of Amazon’s Kindle sales.

That Apple has intended to present the new device as an eBook reader of some kind has been known for some time, as a wave of eBook publishers have been enthusiastically making content available via the App Store.

The tablet is expected to host a 10-inch screen, WiFI and 3G connectivity, and to offer all the iPod features (music, film, video, audiobooks), along with the capacity to run some iPhone apps, as well as to offer a sophisticated eBook reader, potentially itself using technologies the company may have quietly acquired.

That last slice of speculation has a history in previous moves – for example, Apple purchased Cassady & Greene’s SoundJam app in order to provide the architecture for iTunes in advance of the release of the iPod.

Foxconn has reportedly been contracted to produce 300,000 units of the new device each month, a device Apple has been engaged in development of since at least 2003.
 

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