Friday, January 8, 2010

Apple Tablet Predictions

Assuming that an tablet-like thing is actually announced on January 27, of course.  (And what would the reaction be if one were not?  Apple would need to be announcing some other fantabulous game-changing device instead, just to distract people from what they didn’t announce.)

So given the idea of something tablet-y being announced, what will it be like?

I think people are putting a lot more stock in the idea of it being a Kindle competitor than it’s worth.  I think that eBooks will be a secondary focus, but not a top tier one.  (Think of the iPhone announcement, where they touted Phone, Web, and iPod as the top items.  Stuff like texting and calendar and e-mail were second tier, important and even the things that really interested some people, but not the primary focus.

I think a lot of people are fascinated by the form factor idea of the walk-around tablet without much consideration of how that will actually be used.  If you’ve got an iPhone and you’ve got a desktop or laptop system, do you need a tablet?  The answer is “No… except when you do need one.”  This is what people are missing, in my opinion: when do you need a tablet (vs. those other devices) and what do you do with it when you don’t need it.

So here are some predictions, none of them surprising:
  • Screen of 10–11" — big enough for reading or viewing video, but not any bigger than a regular sized magazine.
  • Very minimal hardware interface, just an on button and a headphone jack.  No power jack, no USB ports, nothing much to mar the feel of it being an encapsulated item.  Definitely no battery access.
  • Bluetooth and WiFi.  Duh
  • Runs a variant of iPhone OS that is geared for the larger screen but still works with the same UI mechanisms familiar to iPhone users.
  • Apps for the tablet can be obtained from a version of the AppStore.
  • Existing iPhone apps will work on the tablet, in iPhone sized windows.
  • Has all the features of an iPhone: multi-touch, accelerometer, etc.
  • OLED screen
And then some more interesting predictions:
  • Induction charging and synching.  As I said, no power jack.
  • A netbook-type base which provides the induction charger base and a MacBook keyboard, a la the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid.  Tablet body can be inserted into the docking base in each of the four directions (but not backwards!).
  • When docked, can switch from the iPhone-style UI to a Mac OS X-style UI.
  • The docking base has additional solid-state memory, plus the various ports and such.  Comes with iWork and iLife software pre-installed, and other apps are available via the cloud.
  • Has two cameras: decent quality video/still camera on the back (a la iPhone 3GS) and webcam on the front.
In other words, two questions answered:
  • When do you need it?  When the walk-around nature of the iPhone isn’t enough.  For reading, for browsing the web better, for watching video larger, for apps that haven’t been invented yet which take advantage of the tablet nature.
  • What do you do with it when you you don’t need a tablet?  You turn it into something you do need (if you need one), a netbook/laptop.  Something that you can write on, edit photos with, do web designs with, etc. — all the things that the iPhone isn’t really geared for.
This, I would so buy.

Updated on January 19, 2010

Updated on March 1, 2010

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