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Last Minute Tablet Thoughts

2) Publishing- The tablet will herald the mass exodus of “news content” from the web into the Appiverse. The new model is essentially a pay-per-feed model. New York Times & Wall Street Journal will be among the first to adopt it. Check out this MacWorld article for a more in-depth look at this theory. As the article says, “As long as free thrives, the press can’t do its job correctly… . it’s bad for society.” (For what it’s worth, I’m glad this is happening now that I’m no longer a starving student) - May also allow anyone to sell their own books online. Students, scholars, and people who write in their spare time all have something valuable to contribute, but no relationship with an existing publisher. Apple is already a software publisher (AppStore). Now they’re going to become an eBook publisher, and possibly a physical book publisher similar to (see Software below for details on how)

3) Software- The tablet will run a variant of iPhone OS (touch), not OSX+Mouse, primarily because that gives Apple a cut of every app or subscription sold, whereas Apple sees exactly 0% of OSX app sales. - Unlike with the iPhone & iPod Touch, the Tablet will not require you to own another computer that runs iTunes. It will run full-blown iTunes natively. As “TheDude” said: Here’s the scenario at Best Buy: “OK, you’re saying that if I dont own a computer,..and I want to buy this tablet device thingy,…I need to buy another computer to ‘manage it’ ??”. - Free MobileMe accounts provide “account portability”. Necessary to support using anyone’s tablet as if it were your own. Super-handy for home, classroom, & hospital use. - Books will require a new way to organize “apps”. The current model of “1 icon per book or issue” is not scalable. Maybe each Magazine will have its own app, with its own directory of issues? It won’t be folder-based, because part of the elegance of iPhone OS is in how it hides the file system. Maybe there will be a new Library/ZineRack app? - A new iLibrary program will help you organize AND create printed books. It’s iPhoto for written content, and will be optimized for a combination of text & photos, not just photos. Could integrate with Pages. - Reading will become social. Genius for books, recommendations to friends, etc. - If you want or need to run full OSX apps, you’ll be able to use the new BackToMyMac Remote Desktop App, and run them on your MacPro/MacBook via the Tablet. That way they’ll run perfectly (using your MacPro’s RAM & CPU & HDD) and not kill your Tablet’s battery. Very handy for using Photoshop with the tablet’s superb stylus-compatible screen. It’s possible that there’s a magic feature that lets you run remote apps as if they were local, but I dreamt that up (see my 2 previous blog posts: My Apple Tablet Predictions, and Apple Tablet Event Invitation Insights).

4) Hardware- I’m willing to bet there will be ZERO dock connectors, not 1 or 2. Because the tablet will be some people’s only computer, it won’t need to dock with anything. It’ll run full iTunes natively. If it does need to sync with something, it’ll do so over Wi-Fi (similar to the way the Remote App works with the Airport Express). This also means it can stream music directly to an Airport Express. - Because it will serve as some people’s primary computer, and because it won’t have ethernet, I’m willing to bet it will have 802.11N, not just b/g. - Facial recognition via the front-facing webcam. Your face will automatically log you into your MobileMe account / Tablet profile. This is especially important when the Tablet will be used by multiple people (in homes, in classrooms, in hospitals). This is another reason your profile needs to be in a cloud, not on the device. 90 students could share 30 devices, but it’s impossible if you always need to find “the device you had yesterday”, when they all look the same. This technique could easily be used on any Mac that has a webcam. - The position of the webcam will define the top of the device; what is considered “up”. The Apple logo will be located below it, on the reverse side. - If it has an aluminum casing/back, it can’t have a multi-touch back. I think pages will be turned by multi-touch on the back, because this will allow you to flip pages without changing the position of your hands. For this reason, I believe the Tablet will have a plastic case, similar to the iPhone’s.

5) Extras- The Tablet will either come with a travel case, OR a very nice one will be available at launch. Plus, it’ll easily fit in any existing laptop bag/sleeve/manilla envelope. - I like the idea of the Tablet having an integrated kickstand, but that would introduce moving parts that could break, increasing warranty use, so it’s unlikely. - Keyboard support, though desired by many, is unlikely simply because Apple wants people to get used to 100% touch interfaces. A dock is unlikely for the very same reason. - Would love to see them release Airport Express A/V, and it may happen. - Would love to see them release a Wi-Fi enabled X10 home automation gadget/app, but it won’t happen.

6) iPhone OS (3.2 or 4.0) - new system preference to always let certain (or all) apps know your location - Maps adds driving directions with VoiceOver support both for input & audio guidance - Maps switches to Apple’s own mapping solution (they acquired PlaceBase last year), and stop using Google Maps (which now has built-in ads that Apple abhors) - Multi-tasking arrives. I see it going one of two ways, or a combination of both: a) my friend “Interesting Monkey” suggested that Apple will provide the ability to tap into background processes that Apple already uses (e.g. ipod can continue to play music, nike plus can keep timing you, etc). This could result in Skype releasing an app that can ring your phone like a real call. Could also allow apps like Loops/Latitude to tap into your location at any time. b) I think Apple might use something like Expose, but limit the # of apps you’re allowed to run at once. Tap a button or corner of the screen, and see all the apps currently running, the same way you can see iPhone Safari’s “browser pages”… a metaphor which many understand intuitively. Come to think of it, this is also like desktop Safari’s page thumbnails feature.

7) Pricing- Amazon gives away free a 3G cellular data connection with every Kindle. Did you ever wonder how? The publisher pays for the bandwidth required for you to download their book, no matter where you are. It’s possible that Apple could (somehow) subsidize each Tablet in a similar way. A tablet that includes 24 months worth of WIRED, The NewYorkTimes & WallStreetJournal could be provided for as little as $200 up front, plus $20/mth via the AppStore. Or perhaps “Agree to spend over $200 on books published by McGraw Hill in the next 12 months, and get $100 off”. This is kind of like Google’s revenue model. More people using the net = more revenue for Google. By the same token, more people reading on the iTablet = more revenue for publishers. - Alternately, Apple could self-subsidize the tablet based on its vast knowledge about AppStore purchasing habits. Apple knows the average user spends $4.37/mth, they can calculate what amount of subsidy is feasible. Magazine subscriptions will definitely help increase the average monthly spend. So maybe they can afford to sell these tablets at a loss, just to drive App Store use. They do have enough cash on hand nowadays to pull this off. (according to Gigaom, Apple is currently making $76 million per month from the AppStore, before expenses) - Because the AppStore and its apps are so easy to use, the Tablet will appeal to many people who don’t currently use computers (the same way the Kindle does). Apple would be wise to attract these people with low prices, only to make it back through the AppStore within a short time. - In other words, I expect it to cost *much* less than $1000 USD. It will be available, somehow, for $499 or less.

8) Usability- Slate says the Tablet will not be aimed at geeks, nerds & technology people. They say it’s the first “computer for the rest of us”, designed for people who have no interest whatsoever in learning how to use a computer. It’s for people who don’t want to configure, customize, or tweak. It has no directories, no mice, and no keyboards. It will never make you feel dumb. You control it with your fingers, and your voice. Using it is fun. It “just works”. The future isn’t “mobile computing”, it’s “casual computing”. For many people, the Apple Tablet will be their only computer. - Think I’m kidding about how easy it is to use? Watch this 1 year old use his Dad’s iPhone! The Tablet will be very similar, but a bit bigger.

9) One More Thing…- It just occurred to me - what if Apple calls the tablet, simply, a “Mac”. It could put ALL of its existing brand-power behind the Tablet. Makes sense if the tablet is truly meant to be a “computer for the people”. This IS the consumer Mac (not the MacPro). It would be glorious to have everyone start referring to their computer as a Mac instead of a PC. This has the makings of a revolution.

Ok, now for my Prediction Scorecard: (make your own here) - Tablet Announced: Y - Priced $800-1000: N (some saying lower & i say subsidized) - Sized 10-11 inch: Y - Has Cell Connect: Y (pro model only) - Tablet SDK: Y - AppStore Only: Y - Runs iPhone Apps: Y - Cocoa Touch API: Y - New OS: Y (iphone os with some custom tweaks for the tablet) - Book/Paper/ZIne: Y - Plays Video: Y - Plays Music: Y - Has TV content: Y - Has Camera: Y - Has Docking: N (no, unless via Wi-Fi) - Tactile Keybord: N (it’s just asking too much) - Hardware Keybord: N (pushing multi-touch) - Indie Content: Y (huuge - iLibrary does books like iPhoto does) - Flash support: N - Has Textbooks: Y - Ships March 2010: Y - Name Appl Tablet: N - Name iTablet: N - Name iSlate: N - Name iGuide: N - Name iBook: N - Name iPad: N - Name Canvas: Y (most aligned with ‘creation’ on invite) - AT&T Excl Ends: Y - Paint App: Y - Bing Search: Y - Verizon Deal: Y (map for that was bad PR) - T-Mobile deal: N - iTunes Web App: Y (part of the mobileme cloud) - Macs do touch: N (not by display anyway, maybe by kbd/pad thing) - new iLife/iWork: Y (optimized for tablet) - Next iPhone OS: Y (could be 3.2, not 4)

Aspects of the New York Times’ Apple Tablet Bingo that I agree with: - There is a tablet - Screen size is: 10” - It will not fold like a Tablet PC - You can interact via stylus (but it doesn’t come with one) - The price is $699 unsubsidized (but can be lowered with subsidies) - It will not be fully flexible - It is colour, not greyscale - It has a low-power display mode - The wireless carrier is: Wi-Fi plus Verizon or AT&T - Memory: 64 gig SSD (or less, but includes free cloud-based storage / music sideloading) - It will run a modified iPhone OS (3.2 or 4.0) - It will have an on-screen keyboard - It will be a full PC, but will also redefine what it means to be a PC

Remember to come back Thursday to see how I did!

Comments from my old blog:

(Ken Mattlin)[] said: Great tidbits and RIGHT ON..I’m an old man and an Apple convert a few years ago but I’ve been in merchandising and retailing forever. This product that Apple is launching will certainly hit a high note for the non-technical among us. A GREAT item which I categorized as a “TABSLATE”. My definition of a tabslate is a handheld computer product larger than an IPHONE but smaller than a Laptop. It’s the perfect product that seems to fulfill the original goal of the pioneers in the home computing field.Going back to the time of the Commodore 64 and the Apple, this concept of the “TABSLATES” brings it ALL together.. at 2010-01-26 15:53:40

u.c. said: Great Post. One thing is for sure if its for sale in N America/Canada for around 699 Bucks or less in rip of UK it will be £699 UK Pounds.However, we r used to that.I have a need for this machine for travelling around with. (also my wife can use it leaving the iMac to me)iPhone a tad too small for me and Laptops are heavy (excl the Air) but this seems to me the way forward. Waiting with baited breath. Its going to be a very interesting announcement.Must check if my local store has something special lined up for the announcement tomorrow as its not far to go. at 2010-01-26 17:02:17

Richard said: I just can’t see the 499 price. It would be 100 dollars over the 64GB Ipod Touch. Although I have no problems with a lower price for the touch (ps will they announce the ipod touch with a camera tomorrow…)

My gut says 799. It has to be under 1000 but it can’t be too close to the touch.

I can see that it can use a stylus but as NYT says, it won’t come with it. I would be shocked if it did.

If it has a carrier, I will be interested how the pricing is going to work. Will you be able to piggyback on the dataplan of the iPhone?

I am curious what the surprises are going to be, if there are any since everybody has been talking about it. at 2010-01-26 16:50:41

(Derek)[] said: I don’t think they’ll be making it for less than $500. I think that with subsidies it will be available for less than $500. If you don’t want the subsidy, it’ll cost more. Of course, maybe they’ll do what they did with the iPhone - expensive at launch, and cheaper 2 months later. at 2010-01-26 14:32:11

Tilo said: Good analysis here Derek. However, I think a price point of 499 is a little low. I remember Jobs saying that there was “no way they could make a product for lower than $500 that was not crap”.

The NWT suggested 699 may be more accurate. Well, we’ll see tomorrow! at 2010-01-26 14:22:23

(Tilo)[] said: I agree with that. What do you think of the availability? Will they start selling tomorrow? Some reports saying that we won’t be able to get our hands on it until March. at 2010-01-26 15:59:48

(Derek)[] said: Sadly, I agree it’s probably March, due to some recent manufacturing issues in China :( at 2010-01-26 16:05:12

Ian said: Personally, I’m “worried” that it will be $1000 (unsubsidized). Their pricing is pretty predictable. They mark things up by around 35%. So, whatever it costs, they usually just mark it up by that much. Are they making enough on app store, books, music, etc.. right now to cover some of that 35%? Nowhere close. Might that change if more and more people buy stuff from the store? Perhaps… but I’d be surprised if they don’t mark it up 30% as usual.

As for the name, I’ll pick the “boring” iSlate.

I think the free MobileMe accounts are sort of a possibility.. but judging from my own experiences with MobileMe, non-nerds just aren’t ready to use it. Some part of it breaks every 3 months. at 2010-01-26 20:46:05

(Henry Kim)[] said: Wow, you’ve really thought this out. I’m a little skeptical about it being a game-changer but if it really does launches anywhere near $500, it will be eyebrow singing, brain-searing explosion in the face of mobile computing manufacturers everywhere. One big advantage for Apple is the fact that there are already apps for it. I’m predicting a drawing app like SketchBook Pro will be one of the big sellers, especially if Apple ships a stylus with the tablet. I blogged about it: at 2010-01-27 03:36:41

(Chris Patterson)[] said: A good set of predictions. Price will be a wildcard, but $600 is only a bit higher than a Kindle DX, which doesn’t do nearly as much. Again, Apple will expect to make money off partner revenue with this one.

I expect it will “sync” like the TV - You can see it in iTunes, but it won’t have a cable. And I’m guessing with OS4, you won’t need the cable to sync your iPhone anymore either.

Scratch iTunes, it’s going to either be “iMedia”, “iStuff,” or “iAllMyCrapAnywhereInTheWorld” but it will be the media hub that power the tablet and the newly upgraded Apple TV software (and maybe hardware, cause H.264 barely flies on the current model).

No cables, no discs, none of that old technology.

No flash drive, sorry. MobileMe wins here, and iDisk will make it happen. Besides, it’s already a 64GB flash drive in itself. A wireless one at that. :)

Let’s hope for even 1/3 of what you have listed above! at 2010-01-27 05:50:10

Richard said: Congrats on the price estimate ;)

Although the question is if you want that version. at 2010-01-27 19:28:40