For at least the past 5 years (and maybe more, I’ve kinda lost track), there’s been speculation that Apple will release a tablet-based computing device. Each year, the pundits and everyone else take their time to pontificate and or pass on the latest inside information saying that the tablet is nigh.
This last year was no exception. Everywhere I looked, people were thinking it was coming soon or going to be at least announced at the next major Apple event. Personally, I’ve not taken much stock in the rumors because they didn’t seem credible, and from my way of thinking (based mostly on what other people were saying), there was no real reason for Apple to release one. And up to this point, I’ve been right. Apple has yet to release a tablet (other than the iPod Touch which, while very nice, isn’t a “tablet”)
However, the Wall Street Journal has started talking about a tablet computer, so for this reason, the tablet appears to be a bit more real than it did six-to-eight months ago. For that reason, and a friend who also got me thinking about what a tablet could be, I’ve started thinking about what it could be. Before I say anything else, this is just pure conjecture and a fair amount of “wag”-ging (wild-ass guessing) and I don’t have any kind of inside information or sources. In fact, I’m pretty sure the world doesn’t really care what I say, but on the off-hand chance what I say is correct, I at least wanted it on public record.
I tend to think that every Apple device they release has to have two things going for it:
- A simple, elevator pitch to explain the device
- A place in Apple’s overall story
Before I go forward, I do have to point out that I didn’t come up with these requirements. Rather, I borrowed them from Chicago Sun-Times columnist and regular on TWiT’s MacBreak Weekly, Andy Ihnatko.
So, what do I mean by the above items?
Every Apple device they currently sell (especially on the consumer side) can be summed up in one sentence. For example, the original iPod was “1000 songs in your pocket”. The MacBook Air was the “lightest Macintosh ever”. This is the elevator pitch.
Secondly, the device must fit into the Apple story. Apple wants to be the center of your digital life. The iPod offered a way to handle your music. The iPhone offers the whole internet in your pocket as well. Even the Macintosh fits in with iLife (iTunes, iMovie and iPhoto), handling your music, home movies and photos.
What would an Apple tablet bring to the table?
I tend to think it’ll be something of an extension of your digital life. And I think it’ll do it through touch-ready versions of the iLife suite.
What I envision is a netbook sized device that can carry all your pictures, movies and music with you wherever you go. And it will work either as a stand alone device or as an addition to your current Macintosh. Going on a trip, take your music, movies and TV shows to watch. Oh, and if you take pictures or video on the trip, download them directly via the built-in SDHC card reader (or via USB). You can even do photo manipulation via iPhoto touch and quick video editing with iMovie touch.
Then when you get back home, you’ll be able to sync back up with your home Macintosh’s iPhoto and iMovie libraries to continue editing, or even move the videos and pictures into the professional apps, Aperture and Final Cut Pro.
I also suspect that in addition to WiFi-based wireless, it will also integrate well with your iPhone. Need to check e-mail on the run, you can do it on your iPhone or use the integration to check it on your tablet. I don’t expect it to have or offer built-in wireless.
The one thing I have heard recently that makes me question this a bit, is the talk of electronic magazine publishing via the tablet. It does make some sense, but I’m still inclined away from this being primarily a static media-based device (like a magazine / newspaper reader). Maybe it’s an addition, but I can’t imagine someone shelling out $600 or more for something like this.
I could be wrong, though.