On January 27th, 2010, Apple Inc is poised to introduce to the world the new iSlate which will change the computing world. Or it might be the iTouch. Or iTablet. Or iCostsomuchyouwanttopuke. We really don’t know. Of course, they were also “going” to do this last year too. The fact is, we don’t know what we’re getting, when we’re getting it, what it’ll do, what it’ll cost, or what it’ll be called. If it is a tablet (and most every market analyst is falling over themselves to say it is), it’s going to be big.
Head on over to Gizmodo’s collection of Apple Tablet Rumors to get a feel for whats being talked about.
My only worry is that Apple might make some of the same mistakes Microsoft made when moving to the tablet. I also worry they might try to hang to some of their existing hardware. Below is my list of ways Apple could possibly screw this up:
- Using anything from the MacBook Air. Even when closed, it’s just a bit too thin. The tapered edges don’t sit right in your hands. The iPhone’s battery will last me 10 hours and takes an hour to charge; the Air’s lasts an hour and takes 10 to charge. And it burns your hands while doing it.
- Pulling a Microsoft. Normally, I’m a Microsoft junkie, but “Ol’ Bill” really screwed up on bringing Windows to the Tablet world. Want to know the difference between Windows and Windows Tablet Edition? A virtual keyboard. That’s it. In fact, it was such a small change that it’s been added into every Windows version except basic since Vista first launched. I have a Lenovo X61T Tablet running Windows 7 and can tell you that it’s the best tablet experience I’ve ever had with Windows. It’s also FAR short of what I’d like a Tablet to do. Bringing the already unpopular OSX* straight over to a touch-only interface would be digital suicide. Thankfully, I doubt this is likely to happen. It’s much more likely that Apple will build upon the success of the iPhone platform, which leads me to . . .
- Pulling an Apple. The one down side about an iPhone is that by default (translation: unhacked) it can’t save anything. If a friend sends me a fun sound clip, I can’t save it. Same with any other audio type or video. Reason being is that Apple doesn’t want you sharing something you could be buying from the iTunes store. It also assumes the only people you associate with also use iPhones; when sending an address to my wife from my phone, the phone offers to send it as a text. I was expecting it to send the address as a simple text message – it sent a Google Maps attachment only readable by another iPhone.
- Pulling a Sony. Steve Jobs once said that it was impossible for Apple to build what he would consider a good laptop for less than $500. You know what? I’d believe that. So why isn’t there a $501 Apple laptop? Or a $600? I use Sony as the punchline here because most everyone knows of Sony’s normally excessive price scheme for their products; products are priced so far out of people’s budgets that no one buys them. One of the joys of the iPhone was that everyone could (and DID) buy one. This segues nicely into . . .
- Ignoring the App Store. Wanna know the real reason why the iPhone is so stinking popular? It’s not it’s price (though it helps). It’s not AT&T’s stellar network (not by a long shot). It’s not even how cool it looks anymore, since many other contenders have stepped up over the last couple years. It’s the App Store. On a whim, I can download an app for between free to dirt-cheap that will completely change my phone into any sort of device I want. I bought a program that scans my local network, sniffs out all available services, checks for all open ports, allows me to connect to any device via FTP-HTTP-RDP-VNC, Telnet, and Ping. It cost me $4.99. If you wanted to buy a program that could do all that for your normal Mac, you’re looking in the $70+ range. No one is going to want to buy Mac-only software for Mac-only prices for something they want to be easy.
- Putting a stupid webcam on it. Sounds like a dumb thing, right? Think about what you use a webcam for; taking pics of yourself and instant messaging. On a laptop or desktop that’s fine. On a tablet, it becomes a different issue. Here’s a fun experiment you can try at home; grab a magazine (nothing huge like a bridal one, more like a Time and National Geographic put together). Hold it up to your face. Now talk to it for 15 min or so. You’re not going to want to do that on a regular basis. A camera is one thing, a webcam is another.
I’m fairly sure Apple won’t suffer the same pitfalls Microsoft had when trying to make the Tablet. Between Job’s normal brain-trust and the experiences they’ve had with the iPhone, I’m sure that when the Apple Tablet is announced, it will change everything. You won’t be able to game on it (well, anything past Farmville), and it won’t be for video editing. But if it’s done right, it could be the future of the personal computer; a true, carry it with you, can do anything, tricorder-esque device. IF they decide to actually announce it.
*The last official worldwide census had Apple with 3.2% of the world’s personal computer market share. Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to have liked the movie Gigli than to buy an Apple personal computer. While this number includes business computers, it does not include servers or personal electronics. This number represents actual machine usage, and not the amount of money in the industry as a $1500 Apple laptop would be equal to three $500 Dell’s.