I’m not sure that it’s possible to create more hype for an unannounced product than Apple’s forthcoming iTablet/iSlate/iPad. Apple hasn’t said much at all.
A bunch of new PC tablet devices were introduced at last week’s CES in Las Vegas. The reaction? Mostly yawns, a few ho hums, and plenty of, “I’ll wait until I see Apple’s tablet.” I’ve been following all the technology pundits and Apple soothsayers, and two questions come to mind. First, is it a tiny Mac, or a very big iPhone? Second, what will it do that I can’t do already (with my Mac or my iPhone).
Is There A Gap To Be Filled?
Whether the soon-to-be-announced iTablet/iSlate/iPad runs Mac OS X or iPhone OS or some new fangled iTouch OS, remains to be seen.
The bigger issue is, what will it do that is so compelling that it will make me keep my Mac, keep my iPhone (feel free to insert iPod touch here, too), and still cough up more money to push Apple’s burgeoning coffers to post-Microsoft levels?
Just between you and me and my analysis of all the analysis done already, I think we kiss Mac OS X goodbye. The Mac version of Apple’s venerable OS needs lots more power, a bigger screen, and just isn’t the place for fingers.
iPhone OS the way to go on any handheld device that has a 10-inch screen (all the important pundits agree on the size, give or take an inch or two) except for one thing. All the iPhone/iPod touch apps are made for a small screen.
That leads me to believe that the iTablet/iSlate/iPad will have a modified version of the iPhone’s OS, specific for a 10-inch high resolution touch screen. It sure wouldn’t take long for iPhone app developers to create larger, cooler, more Tom Terrific versions of their wares for the new device.
That means the device is not a tiny Mac, but a big mutation of an iPhone/iPod touch. Now the question is, “What will it do?” After all, it’s not like Windows on tablet devices have done much to excite customers, right?
My Inside Guesses
Besides the wow and gee whiz factors, what good is it? Watching movies in the bathroom? After all, you can’t park it in your pocket like an iPhone, and it’s unlikely to replace an iMac or MacBook.
First, the display. Think 10-inches of glorious shiny multi-touch color screen. Second, the OS is that aforementioned hybrid that brings iPhone OS up a notch. Third, like the iPhone and iPod touch it will be a closed system (Apple loves ‘em).
For hardware, I expect Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a SIM slot, headphone and microphone, and iSight camera. iChat will finally go mobile. No hard drive, of course—just plain old flash memory like the iPhone and iPod touch. Graphics? Screaming cool graphics, perfect for anything.
The minuses? No hardware keyboard, including no capability to use even a Bluetooth wireless keyboard. It’s a touch device, after all.
The big pluses? iTablet/iSlate/iPad will be even more tied in to Apple’s ecosystem, including iTunes, iTunes App Store, MobileMe. It’ll connect with your Mac and your iPhone iPod touch, and exchange or synchronize data.
Apple will make available a touch version of iWorks (which, the more I think about it, sounds difficult to do, but Apple will make it work), sold separately.
What Will iTablet/iSlate/iPad Do For You?
Here comes the cool part. Content. I’m convinced that Apple’s hybrid iPhone OS for iTablet/iSlate/iPad will result in a package capability for content that is not conducive to the iPhone or iPod touch.
Graphics rich, multi-media rich, audio, video, animation (non-Flash), and text—all packed in some sort of new standard that will immediately entice major (and minor) content producers to ensure their content wares are able to display the way God intended—full living color; like a magazine, or newspaper, or cable TV channel embedded into a 10-inch display.
What will this highly anticipated device do if it won’t replace your MacBook or iMac and won’t replace your iPhone or iPod touch? More content, better content, more mobility. For many road warriors, students, business men (and women), it’ll be the bigger device you take with you instead of your MacBook or MacBook Pro notebook.
It won’t do Photoshop, and it won’t be the device that lets you crank out a 30-page report, but it will do almost everything else. Everything. Email, iChat, Safari, iCal, AddressBook, and a gazillion apps that get along just fine using your touch but have total disdain for a keyboard.
This handy device will be a seamless, totally wireless, portable window to everyplace. Movies, TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, and, importantly, a connection to your Mac and your iPhone/iPod touch, giving your touch access to your iPhoto photos, iMovie movies, iTunes everything, without storing them in your hand.
iTablet/iSlate/iPad will be your once and future replacement for notebooks. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. This is the future.
The only apps available will come from the iTunes App Store, which will grow dramatically, with more multi-media offerings, and more apps. Content will come over the internet, of course. Kindle Killer™. Yep. Newspaper and TV savior? Nah. Apple will charge too much.
Expect two or three versions of iTablet/iSlate/iPad, starting with the Wi-Fi version at $599 (at 32 gigabytes; 64 gigabyte option for $100 more). Why so much? Because Apple can charge that much and get away with it. After all, the iPhone, which does much more than the iPod touch, is basically a $599 device. The iPod touch starts at $199, so a bigger screen begets a higher price.
I’m also expecting a 3G/4G wireless version at $999, but subsidized by various cell phone carriers to get the price tag down to, well, $699 (for a 24-month contract)—far less than a MacBook notebook, more than an iPhone, but more than the Wi-Fi versions.
That’s it. 10-inch multi-touch screen. Two models, Wi-Fi and 3G/4G. App Store apps. Seamless sync and connectivity to your Mac and iPhone/iPod touch. Starting at $599. Care to argue with me?
(Thanks to Isamu Sanada for the great MacTablet prototype image)