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iPad 2 unveiling, with uncertain future for outside e-book apps

If Apple’s invitation to its latest media event ” a shiny glimpse of an iPad poking through a corner of a calendar ”  is any indication, the iPad 2 will launch on Wednesday, March 2 in San Francisco. The timing appears to be no coincidence: Motorola’s Xoom tablet is being released tomorrow through Verizon and Apple’s announcement may delay some consumers from making a purchasing decision.

Of course the Internet is already buzzing with speculation over the tablet’s new features. The Guardian predicts a lighter, thinner body and more memory, but hopes for a USB port. This last feature seems unlikely considering how closed Apple has been to date ” currently, all downloadable iPad media must be purchased through its app store, unless it’s accessed through a Web browser.

Thanks to a former Kobo employee, word is spreading that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo may have their e-book apps pulled from Apple’s app store in June for not complying with its policy. Jim Dovey, Kobo’s former Apple platforms team lead, writes on his website:

[Apple’s] in-app purchasing system only allows 3,000 or 3,500 distinct items to be in your catalog (depending who you talk to). Kobo and Amazon each have around 2.5 million titles. Judging by the title of Kobo’s app, 1.8 million are public domain (or otherwise free), so some 700,000 are paid titles, which they are under obligation to the content owners to make available for sale to all their users.

Apple has already denied the Sony Reader a place in its store for not using its in-app payment system, which gives Apple a 30 per cent commission on each book sold.