“With the new tablet device that is debuting next week, 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,” Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ethan Smith report for The Wall Street Journal. “In developing the device, Apple focused on the role the gadget could play in homes and in classrooms, say people familiar with the situation. The company envisions that the tablet can be shared by multiple family members to read news and check email in homes, these people say.”

“For classrooms, Apple has been exploring electronic-textbook technology, these people add. The people familiar with the matter say Apple has also been looking at how content from newspapers and magazines can be presented differently on the tablet. Other people briefed on the device say the tablet will come with a virtual keyboard,” Kane and Smith report. “Apple is also negotiating with television networks such as CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC, for a monthly TV subscription service, the Journal has reported. Apple is also working with videogame publisher Electronic Arts Inc. to show off the tablet’s game capabilities, according to one person familiar with the matter.”

“The tablet, which Apple currently plans to ship in March, will have about a 10- to 11-inch touch screen, people familiar with the situation say… One person familiar with the matter said Apple has put significant resources into designing and programming the device so that it is intuitive to share. This person said Apple has experimented with the ability to leave virtual sticky notes on the device and for the gadget to automatically recognize individuals via a built-in camera. It’s unclear whether these features will be included at launch,” Kane and Smith report.

“Apple has also been planning a revamp of its iTunes music service by creating a Web-based version of it that could launch as soon as June, say people familiar with the matter. Tentatively called iTunes.com, the service would allow customers to buy music without going through the specialized iTunes program on computers and iPhones,” Kane and Smith report. “People familiar with Apple’s plans say a central part of the new strategy is to populate as many Web sites as possible with ‘buy’ buttons, integrating iTunes transactions into activities like listening to Internet radio and surfing review Web sites.”

Full article, which also claims that Apple is “in serious discussions with Microsoft Corp. to incorporate its Bing search engine into the iPhone as the default search and map technologies,” here.

MacDailyNews Take: Uh, no. We don’t care who they are; short of Steve Jobs walking in here to give us a personal demo, somebody can “share” (read: smear their greasy fingers all over) our Apple tablets when they pry them from our cold dead hands. We don’t even like people looking at our iPhones, much less smearing their H1N1-encrusted fingers all over them. Get your own tablets!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jack F.” for the heads up.]