Jan 252010

For those coming by a bit late, this was written before the Apple “iSlate” (if it gets called that) is released. I am not intending to update this when it does get released – making changes to star-gazing blog entries after the event comes close to cheating.

The suspicion is that Apple’s new tablet computer will be a scaled up iPhone rather than a scaled down Macbook, although what difference this makes when both run essentially the same operating system is open to question (for those who question this, have you logged into a jail-broken iPhone? No? Well you don’t know what you’re talking about then). After all a number of Hackintosh people have put OSX onto tablet PCs to roll their own iSlates complete with handwriting recognition with software provided in every copy of OSX.

The funny thing about all the fuss about Apple’s new device is that the numerous ARM-based slates that showed up at CES gathered far less fuss that you might expect.

The interesting thing are the number of people who believe Apple could well succeed where other Tablet computers have “failed”. Not everyone believes this of course, although I’m not sure how seriously you need to take someone who believes that Microsoft invented the tablet computer in 2001. After all Microsoft released “Pen Windows” to sabotage GO’s PenPoint OS (and apparently stole many of the basic concepts) way back in 1992!

So have tablet computers really failed ?

Perhaps you do not see A5-A4 sized tablets at every business meeting, but tablets are still widespread in particular markets. It would seem that those declaring doom and despondency have limited visions of what “success” means – if someone makes a profit selling tablet PCs, they are a success.

But those watching Apple are expecting or hoping that Apple will turn the tablet into a mainstream product – to have as much success with their tablet as they have had with their iPhone. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. It all depends on the whimsical nature of the marketplace.

Do tablet computers have a place in the mainstream ? Quite possibly as long as it is not seen as a competitor to the laptop or the desktop. This is chiefly because the screen size is just not going to be big enough to work in the way we are used to.

There are those who claim that the lack of a keyboard will stop a tablet from succeeding. There are two mistakes here – firstly they are assuming that tablets will be used like laptops. And secondly they are assuming that a large on screen keyboard is not sufficient for the occasional bit of typing – a few instant messaging comments, commenting on a video, etc.

Of course there is nothing stopping you from adding a bluetooth keyboard (or even wired) to a tablet computer. You would need some form of stand to hold the tablet in a laptop configuration – like this (ok that is not really a stand, but you get the idea).

But what will make a tablet computer big is the content – tablets are by their nature devices for consuming content. Reading books, watching videos, browsing the web, etc. The rumour is that Apple is looking to get subsidies for their tablet by going to content creators; the danger with that is that the content creators will expect their investment back and then some – with the risk that they will overprice the content discouraging it’s use.

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