One of the (many) nagging doubts in my head as 2010 starts is the ability of Apple to deliver on the hype of their mythical tablet computer. iSlate, iTablet, Magic Slate, iGuide, whatever you want to call it - I just can’t see it being that useful.
From the rumors, it seems like Apple is prepping an iPod Touch on steroids, complete with ten-inch touchscreen and an always-on data connection. It will probably have an App Store, maybe even the same one as the iPhone. And it will be used to read books.
I don’t mean to insult it on that ground alone, but I have to question a device whose main feature is to do something that, statistically speaking, most people hate. Don’t get me wrong - I love reading - but I am also painfully aware that most people don’t. And I can’t imagine the masses paying $1000 (the rumored price, according to the Wall Street Journal) so they can read. Even Twilight.
Of course, it will do other things as well. It will do everything the iPhone does, including playback of video, web browsing, and game playing. It’s gonna look cool, and it’s interface is going to be bad ass. It’s going to be able to do a lot - but what do we want to do with it?
It’s going to be a “Kindle killer” I’ve heard, in what I consider a disturbing trend to label all new electronics devices murderous villains. How come every new product has to violently assault an existing product in order to be considered successful? Can’t it just be a new, better thing? But I digress.
Holding a ten inch device is going to be weird. Either you will hold it with one hand behind the screen, which will mean you have to only control it with one hand, or you will hold it with both hands and use your thumbs, which won’t reach everywhere on the screen. You could place it on a table, but the viewing angle will be bizarre and you’ll have to hunch over it like a Mongoloid*.
I feel like whenever you’re using the device, you will be thinking one of two things:
- This would be just as easy on my iPhone, without the need for this expensive second device, or
- this would be a lot easier on my computer.
Apple has killed tablet projects exactly for reasons like this before, so I have to hope that this time they’ve figured out how to get it right. Allegedly Steve Jobs has been working almost exclusively on this project since he returned to Apple, and he is very happy with the product. But Steve was also very excited about the Apple Cube and both revisions of the AppleTV, which ultimately failed in the market.
Microsoft’s Steve Balmer showed off a tablet PC on Wednesday at the CES trade show. Didn’t hear about it? Yeah that’s because it was boring as hell. Microsoft has been flogging the tablet concept for what’s going on ten years now, failing spectacularly at generating significant consumer interest.
I want to be wrong here, after all, I love Apple and I have a job now so I could probably afford it. So, Apple, impress me.
* I’m not sure if the term Mongoloid is offensive. If it is, I’m sorry. I’m sure Mongols are good people, with exceptional posture.