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On the eve of the Apple Tablet

Some would tell you that tomorrow the world will change.  I’ve loved all the coverage, I eat it up. As an ultra enthusiast of portables, this is a big year. And tomorrow is a significant day in the material world. Big player, massive expectation. Great potential no doubt.

Intrigue surrounds this thing, not just because it’s Apple. Not because of controlled leaks. People are looking for something. They want to do new things, or do old things better. Will this thing help people do things, or is it just a device for consuming?

Many of us have realistic expecations for this. Writing and drawing, taking notes, good battery life, durability, responsive UI, games, specialized programs, photo and video viewing, reading books.  A netbook or high end notebook isn’t enough for some.  They want to interact more naturally. Some, like me want to be able to create higher quality designs using their refined motor skills and talent, not just push a mouse around.

These gadgets are personal man, they spark all kinds of debate. For some of us, they seem to run our lives, they own us as Tyler Durden would say.  But they let us work in special ways, to share, to communicate. We scupt them through the programs we use, the shortcuts we deploy and what we throw out entirely.

I was disappointed with some writers covering or commenting on these devices, who insist that they know what people want, or more often what they don’t need. Stupid.  There are enough people in the world in all niches that you could make any kind of tablet product fly if you targeted it properly.  Medical, education, logistics,  and more.  And don’t forget the technique many use to market wares to people who don’t know about them. Create the need by introducing a problem, one that people didn’t know they had.  A 9-year-old understands this brand of persuasion.  It’s a mixture of What-if? and Don’t-You-Hate personal inquiries that lead to great answers.

The must frustrating statements made to me have been things like:

As obsessed as I get with wanting to strike back at these with my own strong feelings about the potential for the device here. I’d feel just as energized if Apple didn’t announce a tablet tomorrow. The ball is already in play buddy. Somebody is going to take hold and run with these ideas. We all know after the media storm what many people are after.   So it’s exciting, and it feels like anyone’s game to win.

Now for my speculative remarks.

God knows I’ve listened to everyone else on these matters.   I don’t care of Apple does any of this, it’s just a fun exercise.  But I do have some personal certainties here. Take it or leave it.

  1. I don’t see how it could possibly be called “Tablet”, “iTab” or iSlate or iPad”  Not that the name matters at all to me, but it’s going to play off the graffiti theme or will have a cool name like “Moses” just like the “Newton” was used for their first tablet, something strong. If Steve Jobs did say this is his most important work ever, why wouldn’t he break the standard and  give it a name with real pwnage.
  2. I think the screen will be different in materials than anything else we’ve seen.  Or if we have seen it, we’ve forgotten about it. It won’t be like the iPhone and it won’t be OLED and won’t be Pixel Qi either(unfortunately), I think it will be something else that’s been overlooked by everyone. I’m betting a 3rd party company has been developing the substrate quietly for a long time, and it’s a key selling feature that Apple would NOT allow a controlled leak on. It won’t be unbreakable, but durable.  It will be something that works for reading and writing in daylight better than we’re used to. The screen will perform well, but don’t get your hopes too high, too many compromises are in play.
  3. Lack of ports will bother me. Focus will be on wireless connectivity and against my wishes, there will be a lack of ports, thereby making the device less useful to hobbyists. Apple always does this to me, so I don’t see this changing. If there are more than 2 ports, I’m betting they will be non-standard and annoying to connect to. I’m very curious if it will have an SD slot. I’m thinking not, tragically.
  4. Apple will allow docking in vertical position for pairing with a keyboard easily, and will probably have a good docking station for it (look at logitech’s dinovo keyboard charger dock for example of what you’ll get with this.
  5. Screen will be 10 inches. That’s my guess. One size, 10 inches.
  6. In order for this event not to end too quickly, there will be a massive amount of use cases and software revealed where all sorts of problems are “solved” in the demo. The use cases will take up a large portion of the time. Videos and testimonials in areas like design, home entertainment, commercial use and media creation (photo / video / audio).  Education will get some time, but not enough, because Steve trimmed that part for the sake of brevity.  Those items ARE most important for the device to succeed though. They’ll be more evident when the microsite goes live.
  7. A few years ago, Apple changed iMovie so you could drag your mouse across clip thumbnails and it would shuttle through the video. That was killer and you will see nice UI features like that for plenty of oohs and ahhs. These things WILL get people thinking and it will drive more innovation.
  8. Some kind of iPod goodies will be part of the announcements to hold interest, the 2 devices will fuel each others’ progress.
  9. Special Mac software will be what sells this thing which is also where the other “failed” tablets and multi-touch didn’t grab the mass market.  Designers will get graphic software, students WILL get office. Learning software will be apart of this. This device will do more than just App Store stuff. It will allow for custom builds.  Because it has to appeal to commercial users who want to create their own lock-in for their company.
  10. Price will be $899 or higher. Look at Apple’s current offerings across the board. How could it be cheaper if they stick to their pricing as usual?
  11. 3G will be available, but not locked to a vendor like AT&T.  That will too easily hurt sales.  No contracts required.
  12. There will be exclusive partnerships which are made to sound cool, but really are just annoying. Something about these tablets and portables that brings out the old-world corporations and their attempt to control the future by creating a false scarcity on things. Extreme content and intellectual property fascism wrapped in the guise of the simple and convenient purchase and exclusivity.

Wrapping up, It won’t be for this guy =(

I’ve been disappointed before and probably will this time too. I’m doubting the Apple Tablet will be my choice of tablet in the long run. There’s a lot out there now, with the Entourage eDGe, HP’s offerings, and I’m really hopeful for Notion Ink’s Android tablet with the pretty Pixel Qi screen.  A lot of devices are using Wacom technology for pen recognition. I think I’ll be paying for the most flexible choice.  Apple doesn’t have that reputation of being flexible or open.  But I bet it will do a few things I’ll be jealous of when I see it in the field.

One response to “On the eve of the Apple Tablet”

  1. silicon florist says:

    ME WANT ONE!

January 27, 2010 at 1:30 am | design, gadgets, mac, media | 1 comment