Daniel Eran Dilger
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Anticipating the Apple Tablet

mobile devices iPhone

Daniel Eran Dilger

Everyone is taking turns speculating about The Tablet that Apple is expected to debut about three weeks from now. It’s my turn.
There’s a lot of consensus about Apple’s upcoming Tablet, apparently because nobody wants to say anything provocative or risky. It is almost unanimous that it will physically be a large, 10“ version of the iPod touch. Everyone is expecting a color display with perhaps HDTV resolution and the same type of multitouch screen as the iPhone, supporting an expanded user interface incorporating some sort of 3D elements.

Nearly everyone sees this product as being targeted to consumers as a way to browse the web (with HTML5 savvy), play iTunes content (and particularly that new iTunes LP and Extras stuff) and view rich multimedia magazines and newspaper content along electronic editions of traditional books.

Other manufacturers are all scrambling to get out their own tablets in advance of what Apple is bringing to market, apparently trying to capture the same level of success associated with PlaysForSure players, the Zune, the LG Prada, and the Palm Pre, each of which beat Apple to certain features by a matter of months.

iPod vs Zune: A Buyer’s Guide
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Palm Pre: The Emperor’s New Phone

Tablets of failure in the 2000s.

It was almost ten years ago that Bill Gates demonstrated his vision of Tablet PCs at Comdex 2001, lining up more hardware partners than today’s Android currently enjoys in order to show off a variety of laptops stripped of their keyboards and instead piloted by a stylus.

Bill Gates’ revolutionary Tablet PC was a big Newton Message Pad, ten years late and running Windows XP. But that wasn’t enough to make Microsoft successful in introducing Tablet PCs to mainstream consumers or even business users, for some of the same reasons Apple’s foray into creating the ”Personal Digital Assistant“ flopped. Microsoft’s Tablet PC was too expensive to compete with conventional laptops, too big to be much more mobile than a conventional laptop, and too slow to be useful in place of a conventional laptop.

Microsoft also ensured that the software wasn’t really ready for prime time, nor really capable of doing much you couldn’t already do with a conventional laptop. It also didn’t help that a recession was beginning, sapping any interest in frivolous gadgets in general.

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CES 2008: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Newton Lessons for Apple’s New Platform

Apple shuns the tablet hype to focus on existing markets.

In 2001, Apple ignored Microsoft’s Tablet PC initiative to instead concentrate on investing in the conventional laptop and the software that would run it. Over the next decade, Apple’s success with the Mac platform came largely through sales of its notebooks, enhanced by novel and practical features rolled into Mac OS X, iLife, Pro Apps and other Apple software.

There’s no need for extensive research into which vision of the future worked out best. Apple’s MacBook line has turned into the main driver of its Mac sales, and the company has morphed from a niche maker of boutique, specialized PCs into a retail giant that captures the lion’s share of all premium-priced computers, and therefore also the most attractive segment of PC sales in terms of profits. More than half of those sales are notebooks.

In contrast, Microsoft’s Tablet PC idea never gained much traction. Instead, the company has scrambled to match the features Apple delivered in Mac OS X and tried to whip up suitable equivalents to iLife apps to get consumers to keep buying generic PCs running Windows. But Windows was so bad at supporting laptop features such as sleep/wake power management that Microsoft entertained silly ideas like SideShow, which added an external, expensive mobile device to the top of laptops to avoid needing to power them on.

Additionally, Microsoft had little control over what its hardware partners were doing, so it could only watch as Apple’s MacBooks got more sophisticated and refined while its own partners churned out increasingly cheaper and lower quality laptops aimed at cheapskates. These cheap laptops did nothing to suggest any future for Gates’ Tablet PC fantasy.

Beyond Microsoft, we’ve seen a variety of other attempts at handheld systems that range from stripped down mini-laptops to big PDAs. The most successful and hyped segment of the PC computing market these days has been netbooks, which are just cheap and small laptops. Their relative popularity says more about the lack of innovation among PC makers than anything else. Once you run out of ideas completely all you can do is try to sell the same stuff at a lower price. Just ask China.

Also in the works is Google’s Chrome OS, which replaces Windows on low end netbooks and tablets with a closed Linux distribution only capable of running a web browser on steroids. This isn’t entirely new, and won’t be available until the end of the year. When it does arrive, it will be competing for attention with Android-powered netbooks and small tablet-form factor devices that resemble the iPod touch, including Apple’s.

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2010: The Year We Make Tablets?

Given the history of last decade, why would Apple be floating a tablet now? Well for starters, Apple’s conventional notebooks are now significantly more expensive than bargain-bin PC laptops. This is probably not something that can be sustained indefinitely. Apple also has harvested all the low hanging fruit in MP3 players, smartphones, and personal web browser devices. Apple has also stoked a tremendous fire inside its iTunes App Store.

The circumstances are right for Apple to provide an alternative to the conventional laptop computer, not following Microsoft’s vision, but rather its own. In 2001, Microsoft’s strengths were in its Office suite and Windows platform. It imagined that creating a Tablet PC reference design would bud the PC world into a new branch of specialized devices that would provide new reasons for people to buy Office and run its apps from the 80s enhanced with the stylus of Pen Computing that had repeatedly failed in the 90s.

Today, Apple’s core competencies related to mobility are in designing attractive hardware, integrating music and video content, managing a third party application store, and developing simple, intuitive user interfaces. This aptitude took a decade to pull together, starting with the iPod line, the iPhone, and the iPod touch.

But Apple also still makes conventional Macs, primarily iMacs and MacBooks, and creates lots of conventional desktop software from iLife to Pro Apps. Still, there is no reason to think that a tablet Mac would be popular or useful, and conversely, there’s a reason to think that it wouldn’t: the ModBook, a third party attempt to fashion a Microsoft-style Tablet PC from a MacBook. While that product functions, it doesn’t do anything anyone really needs or wants, just like Microsoft’s own Tablet PC offerings.

Two Decades of Portable Macs: 1989 – 2009

What would make a Tablet useful?

Rather than making a tablet form of a Mac, Apple is much more likely to scale the iPod touch up, adding new applications and capabilities. Instead of being a way to work on Office documents with a stylus, the Apple Tablet appears to be targeted as a way to navigate information and Internet-enabled apps, much like the iPod touch.

Just months after launching the iPhone, Apple attempted to scale it down as an iPod, lopping off features like Bluetooth (and the phone, obviously) and scaling back the bundled software. Users were annoyed that Apple had attempted to use artificial boundaries to differentiate the two, and the company finally relented by adding all the core iPhone OS apps to the iPod touch. It also eventually brought the iPod touch hardware up to par with the iPhone.

Last year, Apple released a new cheaper iPod touch that signaled that the company had worked past its fears that the iPod touch would compete against the iPhone. The company realized that widespread availability of the iPod touch would expand the market for the App Store, which itself would benefit the iPhone and software sales in general. Part of the reason why Apple remains untouchable by Android is because Apple has one iPhone model and the iPod touch backing it up in the App Store. Third party developers get bites from two different fish on every baited hook they cast.

To be successful, Apple’s Tablet will need to fit into the existing product line and strengthen it without killing what’s already there, just as the iPod touch was able to do. Apple has previously demonstrated the willingness to boldly challenge its existing product offerings by replacing them with something entirely new (such as the iPod nano replacing the iPod mini). With the Tablet however, Apple has nothing to replace outright. It’s not going to dump its MacBook line nor the iPod touch. This isn’t an upgrade of an existing product, it’s an extension into a new market.

Same same, but different.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of room for complementary products between those two. To avoid competing with its conventional notebooks, the Tablet needs to differentiate itself from being a full-fledged PC. Like the iPod touch and iPhone, it will be a browser of information, not an editor. It won’t run page layout apps or edit full videos or create music. Unlike the iPhone and iPod touch however, it will offer a much larger screen, making it more suitable for interacting with textbooks and magazines and newspaper layouts, as well as iTunes LPs and Extras.

While the small screens on the iPhone and iPod touch are very usable for browsing the web and casual reading, they don’t support any playback of inline video because it doesn’t make sense to view an embedded video within a webpage on a 3.5” screen, regardless of whatever the Flash-bound hoot about in their Adobe-insanity. Instead, when you select a video the iPhone opens in its own QuickTime player app, similar to how PDFs or other documents are viewed. The Tablet’s much larger display certainly could render video inline, creating a very different and much more interactive overall feel.

This indicates that the Tablet will indeed be a scaled up iPhone OS device, with seamless backward compatibility with its smaller siblings. There is no need for the Tablet to run conventional desktop apps, and allowing this as a possibility would require bringing Carbon and Java APIs ahead into the next generation of the mobile Mac. No, it’s much more likely that the Tablet will be running Cocoa Touch apps only, and similarly run them in a sandboxes environment and distribute them though the App Store exclusively. These are all reasons why this won’t be a standard Mac.

As with any 1.0 product, Apple needs to restrict its feature set so that it does a few marketable things really well, while avoiding any critique of the other things that aren’t yet ready. The original iPhone didn’t attempt to do copy and paste or undo. Of course, the Tablet will because it isn’t running 1.0 software, but rather iPhone 4.0 software. Investment into new Tablet features (such as interface enhancements) will very likely trickle back into the iPhone and iPod touch, just as the investment into the iPhone found its way to the iPod line.

There will also be elements of the Tablet and iPhone 4.0 that make their way into Mac OS X 10.7, which is expected to debut at WWDC this summer. Enhancements to Quicktime X are an obvious one, following the pattern of moving the iPhone’s modernized subset of QuickTime into Snow Leopard.

Inside Mac OS X Snow Leopard: QuickTime X

What would make a Tablet new?

At the same time, the Tablet is likely to benefit from some desktop Mac OS X features that the iPhone and iPod touch haven’t begged for due to their size. Consider the ability to wirelessly print to local printers. That’s a handy (but not required feature) on a smartphone, but a lot more useful and necessary if you’re working on a slate-sized machine. Once perfected for the Tablet, this will likely find its way to the iPhone and iPod touch in iPhone 4.0.

Another example of a likely desktop feature to appear on the Tablet is the ability to browse local websites via Bonjour, browse local iTunes shares (and participate in iTunes’ new Home Sharing feature), local iPhoto libraries, and so on. It would also make sense for the Tablet to share its own files and photos and other content for easy file transfer with other Tablet and desktop Mac/PC users, something that Apple avoided adding to the existing iPhone 3.0 firmware, likely for battery life considerations.

Additional horsepower, screen size and battery will also lift other limits currently imposed on the iPhone. I’m imagining it will debut Apple’s strategy for allowing certain third party apps to run in the background, something that is likely to eventually make it to new iPhones with increased horsepower as well.

A more sophisticated Calendar and Contacts app would enable Apple to push into the Enterprise both as a novel tablet-format client and as a server vendor, once it can manage to sort out how to offer fully functional corporate calendaring and directory services with push messaging. And what better client would there be for remotely managing servers than a Tablet?

With VNC screen sharing (the same technology behind iChat and Apple Remote Desktop), the Tablet would serve as an anywhere, anything PC on top of what it already does, with little to no effort from Apple. VNC was invented to support tablet devices on a fast network, and now we have the formerly missing technology to support both tablets and fast networks.

A remaining question mark hangs over how users will enter text. Will it be entirely though a virtual on-screen keyboard like the iPhone? Will it work with Bluetooth keyboards, another feature that should soon make it to the iPhone as well? Will it incorporate some flashy new technology such as voice recognition, which still barely works on a full power desktop? Will Apple relent and use a Newton-style stylus, which users have scorned for two decades now? I’ll have to wait and see about that.

A Brief History of Remote Display (VNC)

What would make a Tablet affordable?

Apple’s key feature of the iPhone was to bury its true hardware cost using carrier rebates and then subsidies. While it’s possible the Tablet could similarly be tied to a WWLAN contract that also subsidizes its price, it’s unlikely that a large number of consumers who have already signed up to use the iPhone for around $80 a month would jump at the prospect of paying their carrier double that to use an iPhone and a new Tablet, even if it made obtaining the Tablet cheaper from the beginning.

Instead, it’s possible that AT&T and other iPhone carriers might partially subsidize the Tablet with a cheaper data-only contract tied to the same account, so you’d be paying about $40 more to use it. It’s also possible that the Tablet could be sold as a device intended to be used with a tethered smartphone, meaning that you’d have to sign up for a tethering plan that doesn’t offer any hardware subsidy, but also doesn’t require a dedicated monthly service plan just to use the Tablet.

Since the Tablet isn’t as mobile as an iPhone or iPod touch in terms of size, it also makes sense that it could be WiFi only, with the expectation that you’d use it somewhere where WiFi was available, much like Apple’s lineup of MacBooks. Sold as a MacBook companion and/or alternative, the Tablet could become popular at a price of around $800-$1000, although the current recession is going to limit such a device to the well heeled and those of us who can’t say no to crazy new futuristic gadgets.

Recall that was the price range of the 90s Newtons, although inflation has made those figures more affordable than they once were; a $1000 price tag in 1994 dollars would look equivalent to about $1450 today, and a $1000 device today would feel similar to a $700 gadget back then. Today’s Tablet at any price will be cheaper and more accessible than the Newton, but will also have more competition for attention.

Making the Tablet cheap.

There’s also a third alternative to the iPhone’s service subsidy and iPod touch/MacBook direct payment: an Apple subsidy. Recall that Apple has two storefronts selling media that this device is pretty much guaranteed to consume: iTunes music and movies and App Store mobile software. There’s also a third segment the company is known to be working on: a cable alternative of episodic TV subscriptions. The idea is that you pay Apple $30 per month to allow you to download TV from participating networks.

If Apple can pull this off, you can add iTunes TV to the list of features the Tablet will perform, and it may therefore make sense for the company to shave some money off the price of the Tablet hardware in order to ensure that it will have a guaranteed number of subscribers. Plenty of people would sign up for a year long cable contract that enabled them to watch episodic TV from anywhere they could find WiFi, with no commercials and no futzing with a VCR or DVR like Tivo, which requires jumping through some hoops to get the programming onto a mobile player.

Like the iPhone, the Tablet is also likely to expand the audience of MobileMe, although at $99 per year, Apple is unlikely to earn enough from new subscriptions to offer any real subsidy. However, adding slick web-enabled online apps to its Tablet would clearly increase its potential too. Even better would be native apps for browsing MobileMe galleries, something that Apple has somehow failed to offer on the iPhone.

A tangled web of products.

A Tablet tethered to the iPhone could potentially borrow its GPS and compass information, serve as a data uplink, a phone uplink, a video phone uplink if the Tablet has a front facing camera, and perhaps support other interactions. A Tablet with a MiniDisplayPort (or even just a USB/iPod connector) could act as an accessory touch screen monitor for a desktop system, making it a companion rather than outright Mac replacement, something that the Newton failed to do, WinCE failed to do, and the Palm Foleo failed to do.

The Tablet running Apple’s Remote app would also potentially boost the visibility of Apple TV. Just demonstrating an app that does presentations and launches content on an Apple TV enabled display would sell packages of both to lots of companies. Everything is cheaper by the dozen, which is why the price of the iPhone plummeted once Apple realized that users would indeed flock to purchase it volume.

There is also one last way Apple could make the Tablet affordable: choose to make less money on it initially in order to suck all the oxygen out of the tablet market, ensuring that it remained the key player in mobile devices and software. By selling the Tablet near cost, as it does with Apple TV, Apple could create a huge installed base and quickly bring down component costs via economies of scale. Once it sold its first five million, there would be intense pricing pressures keeping rival devices from entering the market with me-too devices.

This may seem uncharacteristic for Apple and its customary high margins, but it’s exactly what the company did with the latest iPod touch, and its what Apple executives warned they were increasingly going to do in general terms. With complementary ties to other products, services, and content, Apple has less need to make all of its cash upfront from hardware sales. Of course, Apple is still making healthy margins on its iPod, iPhone, and Mac product lines, and it has vast reserves of cash, meaning that floating a Tablet in the style of Apple TV isn’t a crazy idea.

A Product Transition: Giving MacBooks the iPhone Touch

The other tablets in the rear view mirror.

Once Apple drops its detail bomb, the market will have limited time to respond. Nobody making Android tablets has an App Store full of iTunes content, nor deals to sell digital news and periodicals, nor a push messaging and personal content hosting subscription plan, nor a TV appliance, nor a TV subscription plan in progress. Android as a platform still lacks last year’s $199 iPod touch or even a real equivalent to the iPhone.

The same can be said for Nokia’s Maemo and Symbian and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and RIMs BlackBerry and Palm’s WebOS and Samsung’s Bada. And none of these, save Microsoft, have a viable desktop PC platform with development tools that scale from the conventional desktop to smartphones to tablets-form-factor devices. Conversely, Microsoft doesn’t have a successful MP3 player, nor a successful smartphone platform, nor a desirable tablet, nor even a content and software marketplace with any significance.

That should clarify how quickly Apple’s rivals will manage to catch up to its new Tablet. Given the weak competition Apple faced against the iPod and the laughable efforts that leading mobile companies have ineffectually thrown under the wheels of the iPhone, it’s hard to imagine that Apple’s Tablet won’t similarly define the future of tablet devices while maintaining a strong lead for the foreseeable future.

Inside Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone OS as software markets

  • paolo

    Dan, I was really awaiting for a take on the Tablet from you.
    I clearly remember that you often said there wasn’t any reason for Apple to shell out a Tablet, and I see that you keep some of that skepticism, although you are working your way to understand and rationalize this (probable) Apple move. I am with you on this: I am not sure why Apple should introduce this kind of product, unless they have very good cards on their hands and, as usual, they play them very close.

    I can’t say if Apple’s products are insanely great, but surely the quality of the interaction with the user in a league of its own. Also, competitors do their good job in making insanely awful products, resulting in the actual perception of iMac, iPhone and iPod people have.

  • ShabbaRanks

    I’ve been trying ever since I heard of the Apple tablet idea but I honestly can’t think of a compelling reason to own any tablet computer aside from the iPhone I’m typing away on now. I always considered the iPhone the ultimate tablet computer due to it’s portability, ease of use and flexibilty.
    It’s just personal opinion but if Apple can bring out a tablet that makes me want one, it’ll be one of the best tech products ever. Until then, I sit here like Caligula, waiting to be impressed.

  • javierbds

    I like the article as it shows Apple can push this in many directions. I also think Apple is trying to redefine personal devices for end users.
    I think the way Apple has chosen the price of the iPod Touch will be similar to the one for the Tablet. The basic device could “compete” in the upper “netbook” segment (450$ish, a little more than the top touch) and may be 7”. The big one will be 10” and may be tied to subscriptions (3G, media, Mobileme?), and have additional hw (like iPhone).
    I´m thinking of JS opening a DVD-like case and showing one … I think I´m hooked :)
    I also think the slate could serve as a universal input device for other sw running on other devices (like a canvas with lots of personalized controls), as well as a traditional tablet.
    As a stand alone device it will be iPhone 4.0 but with full multitasking.

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  • ChuckO

    The Mad Hatter (post 49),
    I think they know it will sell fine based on doing what an oversized iPod Touch can do. The great thing about being Apple is you have a large core (who knows how big at this point) that will try anything you put out. Then depending on what they have lined up (text books, apps for Doctors, who knows) you tack that onto the core folks and it’s definitely worth putting out even if it doesn’t set the world on fire. I think this kind of thing could also be good for older folks who need email, web access but a touch or iPhone is to small for and a real computer with an exposed file system, etc is to confusing. Add them to the buyers.
    Then as I stated before I think this is their answer to the NetBook. Not that it will be a cheap piece of junk for $250 but something they think they can satisfy that buyer whose willing to spend up to around $500 to get what they need plus some Apple cool. If they are really smart and the price is above $600 I think they should bundle free MobileMe with it.

    I think the bottom line on this for Apple is it offers a way to cover a hole in their product line-up (a low cost Apple device) and doesn’t have to be the next iPod or iPhone.

  • gus2000

    My predictions:

    - Macbook price ($1000) for a half-Macbook is insane. Should be closer to $500.

    - Three connectors: iPod dock, headphone jack, and Light Peak.

    - Wireless charging. Who the hell uses wires anymore?

    - IR transmitter; obvious home-theater applications.

    - Super-thin. Carbon-fiber body, since plastic is not strong enough, and neither is aluminum at that thickness.

    - Front-facing camera. No backside camera, since the tablet is not for photos or video.

    - Touch version of Front Row. Remote control, or at least iPhone app for that. Boom.

    - Great 3D graphics, full HD resolution. But will not play Crysis.

    And one more thing…

    It will cost $30,000 to fill with music and video, you’ll lose it in the couch cushions, it will be thin enough to decapitate you accidentally, typing will be impossible, it will lock you into iTMS, and it will not do anything special that hasn’t already been done. At least, that’s what the other bloggers tell me.

  • stefn

    I hear the pundits over-thinking the Tablet. I’m sure I am under-thinking it but…

    We need a different perspective to see the Tablet as a consumer product; it’s all in the user look and feel. It’s fine to list technologies, but they only matter in terms of what they deliver to non-techy users. Forget work, think fun. Forget enterprise; think entertainment. Forget memos, think postcards. Forget earning; think shopping. Forget books; think audiobooks. Forget boss and peers; think grandkids. Forget carbon-fiber; think red and shiny.

    * Apple has been vigorously pursuing the standard consumer device design vectors: lighter, smaller, thinner, brighter, cheaper—realizing that all these qualities are limited by technologies and/or uses.

    * It’s a mistake to underestimate the UI and apps on the iPhone/Touch in terms of their appeal and effectiveness for consumer uses. For example, I prefer reading my email on my Touch, for instance, as the experience is more relational (think letter) and slick. As another example, the opportunities to shop music and apps on the iPhone/Touch is a huge consumer draw. Did I say huge. Colossal!

    * Even for writing purposes, my Touch is a comer: Ever use the ShapeWriter app? Wow. It’s close to a consumer lovable experience. Again, think email; forget essays.

    All the other great things that can go on board are fine as appeals to marginal audiences—as long as they don’t get in the way. But here’s the bottom line: Offer a bigger iPod Touch with a decent camera and an app for handling and sending pix. Let us send email from anywhere. Let us buy music and apps from anywhere. Add all the Apple glamor, support, shine.

    It’s a winner.

  • mi_nielsen


    Good read as always.
    Apple products has always been about value. The key drive of the iPod success was its simplicity and later with the ITMS and the easy 99cent per tract rigth to your iPod was the deal that transformed the iPod and apple from a computer company to a media company.

    People was not buying CD’s so much because of the web when the iPod came out and now all the media houses are dying since they can’t sell their articles and in this recession the cable networks will have lots of people cutting their subscription. No one likes all the crap or comercials but pay to watch whatever show they like… just like CD’s.

    Now if Steve has done his magic and made the publishing houses agree on a common plan where you can buy articles for: 9cent a pop and watch TV shows for 99cent per episode. Then the table will rule. All thru iTunes. So how I think that the tv shows will take much longer and will be a iTunes: table/mac/Apple TV/iPod product but magasines and news papers will be table/mac/pc only.

    Now the table hardware and OS….
    It will be a new kind of Mobile OS X but will bridge the Mac and the iPod Touch/iPhone.
    Here is how I see the media event.

    1. Status of how well the iPhone and iPod touch is doing

    2. Status of App Store
    So many apps, and Apple would like to make them more available.
    On the Mac there is the Widgets and they will now be replaced with App Store apps. So now anyone with a mac can use the apps the love on the iPhone on their mac.
    Also the widgets will be made available on the Mobile OS X 4.0. Just rebuild your app. (Fat binary/multiple versions in the app store)
    App store on the Mac.

    3. Intro Mobile OS X 4
    The apps will via bonjour be able to connect with Mac Applications. ADOBE show a demo where the tool box will be an app on the iPhone so the switching tool can be done with the users left hand while using the mouse with the right hand.

    4. Multitasking on the iPhone with widgets. They are very limited in resources and what they can do. Will make heavy use of notification and can display messages on the locked iPhone screen.

    5. Computing reinvented (Steve said that at the company pep talk after the iPhone release…that Apple will do that in 2010….remember? hard to google!)
    The table. Will run all App store apps in normal mode tiled or in full screen mode.
    All your document will follow you when you have mobile me. Use the table as a super touch pad with any mac. This will open the legions of iPhone app developers to mac development.

    But there is more…
    The table when it pairs with a bluetooth keyboard/mouse will run all iLike and iWork as fullscreen applications (remember they have a windows mode and fullscreen mode).

    So the table will have 3 modes of operation:
    1. Normal Mobile OS X mode running app store apps. Here you can use the touch screen keyboard and do anotations in the App store versions of iLIfe and iWork apps.
    2. Input mode with keyboard/Mouse here it will be one Mac app at a time in fullscreen mode. Can only be installed via the app store (Moving to a app store for all mac apps in 1-2 years time)
    3. Slave mode where it works as a super touch pad for the mac.

    And last but the killer….
    When in Normal mode you can interact with it with multivision. A subset of the multitouch gestures by simply tracking your eyes. When you read it will automaticaly scroll the text and you can go back and forward with eye blinks.

    That all of my pure speculations…I would buy one.

  • mi_nielsen

    Forgot 2 things.

    1. The table with its screen size will be great for games.
    2. The components size and price of the iPhone will be so low that a slightly smaller iPhone that will be like the 3G model at a low price will go head on with the midrange phone from the old guard.
    At the traditional September iPod event the iPod touch will be cheaper and a 7” big brother that runs all the table games will be introduced.

    Sorry for my poor english.

  • mikeg

    Lots of tablet talk over the last few days, and the news about Microsoft’s offering has gotten some MS enthusiasts at my work giddy with anticipation. I must admit that I was extremely interested in the Apple Tablet when rumors about it first surfaced, but now I am cautiously optimistic about the device at this point. I will undoubtedly give it a serious look and hope that it fills a complementary and “useful” set of functions that augment my iPod, MacBook Pro (13 inch) and iPhone suite. I am not as picky about price as long as the complementary functions demonstrated are done well (and I am pretty sure they will be), and they meet my interests/needs.

  • nini

    If it ends up being a big iPod touch with Mac OS X Mobile (or even vanilla SL) then it’ll be a total letdown. Why in the heck would a UI built with minimal screen real estate in mind be on a device a good few times bigger? No, I expect a inbetween of both versions of OSX, something specific to the tablet roping in the simple UI and system abstraction of OSX Mobile and the capabilities and flexibility of SL, a game-changer within the poky world of tablet devices.

    Hopefully it won’t have a stylus, back facing camera (iSight I’d be fine with) or a SIM card slot as that’s all a little bit too “phone” for a device which most likely won’t be doubling as your phone. HD capabilities I’m slightly indifferent to but a bonus is a bonus.

  • http://www.lowededwookie.com lowededwookie

    I agree with all of what Daniel says expect for one thing.

    I do believe Apple will release a mobile version of iWork possibly with two interfaces depending on whether the app would be running on an iPhone/iPod Touch or a tablet. I also believe that it will be tied in with iWork.com meaning documents can be worked on on desktop iWork or mobile iWork with changes being uploaded to the online version.

    This way documents can be edited on a mobile device such as the rumoured tablet which would be perfect for document editing although somewhat less featured than the desktop version like the differences between desktop Bento and iPhone Bento.

    I’ve been wanting iWork on my iPhone ever since I got my iPhone and now with the rumours surrounding iWork.com I think this will become a reality possibly being included in the install of desktop iWork ’10.

    As I said, it won’t be as full featured as the desktop version but it will be more than enough to work with images and fonts and tables etc.

    It’s going to be an exiting year for document editing I think.

  • ChuckO

    Some kind of significant upgrade to Apple’s web based offerings that are shown off as a feature of the tablet (even though they’ll be equally useful for Macs) and make Apple’s stuff more competitive with Google would make a lot of sense. That could be the WOW factor a tablet is missing.

    I tend to be lazy so the idea of Apple offering different interaction methods for all their products that I have to learn sounds like a drag to me. But I was pretty shocked the magic mouse had separate gestures from Apple’s trackpads . That still seems like a mistake to me. I think they should replace the mouse with a trackpad on iMacs and desktops where it could be a peripheral.

  • http://www.lowededwookie.com lowededwookie

    I keep reading people saying that the tablet would run a separate version of OS X/Mac OS X but I don’t think this will be the case. There’s no need.

    Apple already has three versions of Mac OS X on offer… Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, and OSX. These all cover specific areas of needs. Mac OS X covers the desktop/notebook ranges very well however it’s too much for a mobile device and not enough for a server environment. Mac OS X Server caters for the server environment perfectly leaving OS X for mobile devices.

    The tablet will not be a notebook replacement but more of a compliment to it. Most people think of tablets as being notebooks without a keyboard but that’s why the tablets have failed so far. A tablet should only be enough to get a particular job done and synch back what has been done to another machine. In essence a tablet should be nothing more than a glorified iPod Touch.

    OS X is scalable up and an Apple tablet would really only require the interface that the iPhone and iPod Touch already have therefore no need for a separate operating system.

    Form factor wise I do think that it will have a DisplayPort to allow it to be connected to TVs, monitors, and projectors. It will have the necessary Dock Connector to allow it to synch with iTunes. It will have Bluetooth but there will be no need for mouse interaction so at best it will support keyboards and wireless streaming as well as pairing with an iPhone for internet tethering (which outside iPhone users won’t have to have a separate plan for). It will also have a USB port in order for internet tethering as well but I guess that could be taken over by a special Dock Connector to Dock Connector cable. Alternatively a SIM would be perfect as well because it would allow the device to connect to the Internet wherever without using battery power via Bluetooth or USB.

  • airmanchairman

    Oh my goodness, could it be, could it be…?

    That Apple’s recent discussions with the various Media moguls (magazines and other publishers, TV, Music, movies etc) was to float a proposal similar to the one they took to the mobile carriers (who are likely to be a part of this as well), such that we could wind up having a heavily-subsidized (i.e. ridiculously low-priced) uber-tablet that would be nigh-impossible to undercut or outsell?

    If there’s anyone in the business that could pull off that sort of audacious manoeuvre, it’s odds-on to be Steve Jobs. Now that would be a masterstroke of unparalleled proportions.

    Ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your hats…

  • ChuckO

    airmanchairman, That would be a great strategy. Cheap when it’s subsidized. $1000 when it’s not? $1000 just seems crazy to me. $800 seems high but $1000 sounds laughable unless it gives reach arounds.

  • kt

    One thing I would really like to see Apple do is include Wacom tablet-like functionality. For 15 years, I’ve wished for a nice sketchbook sized tablet that is light easy to carry around and allow for natural hand drawing capabilities. Something like that that directly creates vector graphics from hand drawn sketches would rock. Something like that though would require some sort of stylus though as drawing fine detail or crosshatching would be a nightmare with a big fat fingertip.

    Haven’t heard anyone speculate in this direction, but for me, that would be the must have reason to get a tablet. All the other stuff I can do perfectly well on my MacBook Pro

  • gctwnl

    As Daniel above links to the Android analysis of Prince McLean that so beautifully describes Android’s memory architecture mess, I’ll ask Daniel or Prince here: could you comment on what Google’s announced about the encryption solution to the SD-card memory architecture problem of Android?

  • kisap

    Speaking of TV. I have an iMac in my living room as a TV, media center, web browser, etc. On my sofa table there is Apple wireless keyboard, remote and Magic Mouse. Three items to control my iMac! I would be glad to replace them with one iTablet (or whatever).

    Do you think Apple intends “iTablet” for this purpose (it is just a matter of small software app)?

  • http://twitter.com/NateTehGreat nat

    Food for thought: a 10″ diagonally-measured book is equal in every dimension to the white space of a default-sized BBEdit window on a 15″ MacBook Pro.

    And a 10 1/4″ book spans the vertical height of a 15″ MacBook Pro’s display, and is aprox. a half inch less than half of the horizontal length of that 15″ MacBook Pro’s display.

    With a BT keyboard on my lap and a simple stand to hold the tablet in portrait orientation on a couch-side table (which my 15″ PowerBook G4 currently rests on), I could totally compose documents then switch to writing HTML, and then switch to browse the web (since most sites are fixed-width these days), without reorienting the device or straining my eyes (so long as the tablet’s resolution is right). That’s a good portion of what I use my Mac for, the rest being casually checking NetNewsWire, Mail, and Tweetie.

    Let me run multiple Dashboard widgets and iPhone apps in windowed mode and make it affordable, say, $500-$600 with $30/month 3G service (from Verizon!), $700-$800 WiFi-only, and I’m sold.

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  • nelsonart

    I’ve never seen the bar set so low. CES, other than a few Samsung thin LCD TVs, is a disappointing snooze fest. The tablets with the most hyped reviews (Paul T. was nearly orgasmic with Lenovo gear) are astonishingly ugly with GUIs that lag so badly that they appear locked up. Ugly, flimsy, uninspiring plastic coupled with what look like yesterday’s linux.

    If Apple merely aims low, they’ll blow the competition away. If their vision shows genius, they’ll have another runaway success.

    I’m glad I wasn’t required to buy a ticket to CES. I’d be wanting a refund.

  • stefn

    Subsidy and 3G service: I see it just the other way around, the Kindle way: Add a $100 to the price and give us lifetime 3G for purchasing and downloading. Wifi for everything else. In fact, why charge $100. Amazon doesn’t. It just sells and sells.

  • ChuckO

    nelsonart #71, Here’s something someone posted at another blog about what Ballmer said about the MS/HP “slate” at CES: “They didn’t even really introduce a tablet. He actually said, “A prototype will be available later this year.”

    Hopefully Dan’s got some posts coming about CES especially the Palm announcements. That development road map looks pretty crazy.

  • Bo

    ” Apple’s conventional notebooks are now significantly more expensive than bargain-bin PC laptops.”

    As if this matters. The iPhone would not have sold if everyone initially looked only at the iPhone price versus getting a phone “for free”. This old PC vs Mac rubric implies that any users TIME HAS NO VALUE.

    The end consumer knows the value of time saved, service, services, build quality, & ease-of-use even though he may not verbalize it as such.

    Apple’s laptops & iPhone have been gaining steam like a runaway locomotive…can’t stop em.

    Once a uniquely great product hits the market, a purchase decision is no longer about price when we are talking 25%-50% higher price for the products that are simply better on all angles.

    Consumers buy what gives them the most overall satisfaction.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    Apple’s conventional notebooks are now significantly more expensive than bargain-bin PC laptops.

    Actually they are less expensive, if you match features and capabilities.

  • ChuckO

    Could this thing be as skinny or close to an iPhone? That seems important.

  • http://twitter.com/NateTehGreat nat

    @ ChuckO

    I’m imagining something closer to just the display-housing of a MacBook Air, except maybe a little bit thicker.

    Here’s hoping it’s brushed aluminum or some other less scratch prone material, though preferably not polycarbonate plastic.

  • grwisher

    The Apple iSlate*, announcement on the 27th of January, will:
    1) Run all of the native iPhone apps including support for MS Exchange support
    2) Run 3rd party apps from the Apps Store** (130,000 and counting)
    3) Have the same interface as the iPhone (includes iPod, internet, mail, etc.)
    4) Use the same way to install apps
    5) Use the same way to uninstall apps
    6) Sync apps and data automatically to the individual’s iPhone in realtime
    7) Have Wifi, 3G and or tether to the individual’s iPhone built in to the device
    8) Support multi-tasking for all apps (including 3rd party apps)
    9) Have a camera with flash and video capabilities
    10) Have external mouse, keyboard and/or monitor capability
    11) Provide enhanced music, movie and TV capabilities vs the iPhone (maybe 3D)
    12) Provide enhanced gaming vs the iPhone
    13) Provide enhanced traditional books and text book
    14) Provide enhanced magazines and newspapers
    15) Provide enhanced data base interaction (entry, retrieval, etc)
    16) Have video conferencing built in (maybe a projector at some point)
    17) Offer Mac versions of native software (iWork, iLife, Final Cut Express, Aperture, etc.
    which will sync to your Mac versions in realtime)
    18) Offer Mac versions of 3rd party software (MS Office, Quickbooks, etc.
    which will sync to your Mac versions in realtime)
    19) Have a FileMaker option available next year when FileMaker 11 is deployed
    (FileMaker is a wholly owned by Apple, Inc.)
    20) Since this is a much larger version of the existing iPod Touch, there is plenty of room for larger batteries, processors and other stuff

    *iSlate may be called something else.

  • stefn

    Looking over all the ebook readers announced at CES, Apple’s tablet seems well timed. Here’s why. (It’s about the Tablet, trust me.)

    The problem ebook publishing faces is that purchases are tied to one device. Yet print publishing will follow audio and video publishing, moving onto these devices, partly for reasons of DRM. (Hate DRM we will but accept it we must. How else can content creators get paid?)

    So five years from now, most of our reading needs will be met with ebook devices. We will have 3-4 devices around the house and 1 to lend to a friend. For this to happen, the devices must be priced at $50-$250, depending on size, let’s say small for books, big for newspapers.

    The winner in this scenario can be Apple because it can produce the best-of-breed devices at prices no one else can meet. Why? Because Apple can subsidize these devices’ prices given their potential as purchasing monsters. In fact, they already are. Think music, movies, apps. But that’s just the beginning. Think print, tickets, lattes, limos.

    Amazon has understood this and offered its best shot, in the Kindle, at an affordable device built for shopping as well as reading. But it’s Amazon’s job to sell atoms, not electrons. In a couple years we will see that Amazon’s Kindle was merely a rough concept for Apple’s Tablet and Touches. Amazon will sell us all the solid objects we buy but digital products and services will be Apple’s territory. (All looked over by our advertising overlord Google.)

    I think now’s the time: if Apple produced Tablets for $250 and Touches for $50, it would rule these sectors. None of the ebook readers announced this week could survive at these pricing levels. Nor can they sell all the products and services that Apple’s devices can.

  • stefn

    Added to the comment immediately above: App sales in general are projected by Gartner to rise to about $30 BILLION in 2013!

    Here’s my question: How much of that business is Apple going to hand over to Google without a fight? Google is pouring its proceeds into building inroads into Apple territory with good success.

    What percentage of the app business in 2013 will be Apple’s? Google’s? others?

    And if it isn’t subsidized pricing, as suggested above, how will Apple meet the Google challenge?

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