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The inside track on Apple's tablet: a history of tablet computing

post #1 of 201
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Apple's anticipated press event later this month is widely expected to debut a new tabled-sized device as a sibling to the company's Mac, iPod and iPhone product lines. Here's what has led up to the launch, and why the futuristic tablet hasn't taken off so far.

This article features the evolution of the hardware side of tablets. The software side of tablet products and technology related to multitouch interfaces is profiled in the article Inside the multitouch FingerWorks tech in Apple's tablet .

The new "iSlate" or perhaps "iBook" product that observers hope to see from Apple is thought to include a new graphical interface based on the multitouch foundation of the iPhone, and is anticipated to physically fit between the pocket-sized form factor of the iPhone and iPod touch and the 13-inch notebooks of Apple's Mac lineup.

A variety of vendors have tried to deliver tablet-like products over the past two decades, but none have been a standout success. This has the tech world watching with bated breath to see if Apple can apply its aura of desirability to the tablet segment in the same way that it has managed to do in desktops, notebooks, MP3 players and smartphones.

Looking at the history of tablet products of the past provides some clues as to why they haven't taken off yet, and what new potential they might have this year, given the new advances in hardware technology and the platform advancements that have stoked a software market capable of supporting users' interest in such a device.

Early tablet ideas: 1968 - 1982

The concept of handheld computing got started in the late 60s, when Alan Kay met with other graduate students to demonstrate his FLEX Machine system. At the event, Kay saw the first working flat panel display, which led to the idea that at some point the technology would exist to embed a personal computer (already a novel idea) into a flat panel display to deliver a very personal mobile device.

Kay's idea mingled with his interest in promoting computers as a tool in primary education, resulting in the "Dynabook" as a product vision that would enable not just dynamic books, but also fuel changes in how individuals related to computers. Kay originally envisioned a two pound device with a keyboard and a megapixel display.

Kay brought his ideas to Xerox PARC in 1970, where they morphed into the desktop Alto prototype system that Kay called an "interim Dynabook." The Xerox Alto dramatically advanced the state of the art in computing by fusing a variety of brilliant ideas, including Douglas Engelbart's pioneering concepts related to mouse-based graphical computing. The advanced research at Xerox greatly influenced Apple's Lisa and Macintosh projects, which brought intuitive desktop computing ideas from the lab to mainstream users.



Tablets wait through the age of notebooks : 1982 - 1991

The goal of taking the technology demonstrated by the Alto and shrinking it into a Dynabook-sized tablet remained a futuristic vision throughout the 80s. Various PC companies brought new portable personal computer designs to market, starting with suitcase-sized luggables which required an AC plugin, and progressing to battery powered handheld systems and increasingly thin and portable notebooks; these were all largely text-oriented DOS computers. The closest thing to a tablet that the available technology allowed were handheld systems dominated by a full keyboard, with a small LCD readout suppling a few lines of text.

GRiD, founded in 1979 by Xerox executive John Ellenby and Dave Paulsen of Apple, introduced its Compass as the first commercial notebook computer in 1982 with a hinged, 320x200 display that folded shut over the keyboard. It cost $8,150, or about $17,900 in today's money. GRiD's portable computing product attracted the attention of national security and intelligence groups in government as well as corporate executives; NASA regularly took the portable Compass into space.

Apple didn't bring its graphical Mac Portable to market until 1989. By that time, DOS PC notebook vendors had delivered an impressive array of models designed primarily for text-based computing (Toshiba even branded its PC notebooks as "Dynabook" in homage to Kay's original ideas), and a couple companies (including Outbound) even launched portable systems that ran the graphical Macintosh operating system using ROM chips from retired Apple computers.

The conventional notebook design won out over tablet-sized systems in popularity, simply because the notebook provided the most ideal combination of portability, computing power and screen real estate. Apple's first foray into mobile computing with the Mac Portable was taxed by its need to pack significant processing power and a high quality 640x400 display suitable for supporting its graphical computing environment. However, by 1991 Apple had teamed up with Sony to shrink its mobile Mac into a thin notebook form factor called the PowerBook. The new model shifted the keyboard back toward the hinge, making room for a palm rest equipped with a trackball for navigating around windows on the screen, a convention followed by nearly all notebook makers since.

Over the next decade, Apple maintained a leading position among top notebook makers, but eventually began to fall behind the curve as the company's outlook grew questionable. At the same time, Apple began working on an even more portable device to be sold as a companion device for desktop and notebook users: the Newton Message Pad.



On page 2 of 3: A new wave of tablets, Apple's Newton.

Birth a new wave of tablets : 1989 - 1994

As notebooks entered the mainstream as a conventional design for marrying a keyboard and screen, mobile pioneers worked to make computing even more personal with handheld tablet devices piloted by a stylus. GRiD had patented the notebook concept of hinging a flat panel display over the keyboard, so it earned enough money from patent licensing royalties to weather the shift toward DOS compatibility (GRiD's pioneering notebooks ran their own proprietary operating system), at least until 1988 when the company was sold off to Tandy. After that, many of the groups luminaries began to leave for other companies.

That included Jeff Hawkins, who had joined GRiD in 1982 and later served as its vice president of research. Inside GRiD, Hawkins had worked with Samsung to develop a thick table-sized device called the GRiDPAD that ran DOS with a stylus on a 640x400 screen for about 3 hours before the battery died. It cost $2,370 in 1989, or about $4000 in today's currency.

Hawkins saw significant potential in targeting consumers with a simpler, cheaper and more practical device, so he floated the concept of the "Zoomer" to Tandy, a project which the company wasn't interested in completing by itself. That led him to license GRiD's software and develop the product in a spinoff named Palm Computing in 1992, where he was joined by Apple alumni Donna Dubinsky. Palm produced the Zoomer with Tandy, which brought in Casio to manufacturer it.

Around the same time, Go Corporation delivered the PenPoint OS as one of the first operating systems specifically designed for handheld systems. PenPoint presented an interface following the metaphor of a tabbed notebook, aiming to be simple and easy to use. Go licensed PenPoint to various companies, including GRiD.

AT&T released its short-lived EO Personal Communicator running the PenPoint OS in 1993. Two wireless models were priced at $2000-$4000. The project ran out of funding and went under just a year after its launch. The demise of Go as an operating system vendor was largely attributed to the threat posed by Microsofts Windows for Pen Computing, which promised to eat up the entire market for pen based tablets and PDAs by simply adding some extra pen-savvy software to the Windows PC, enabling PC makers to deliver tablet designs without really investing in their own research and development.

Windows for Pen was ultimately unsuccessful in finding an enthusiastic audience, but it did allow Go Corporation executives to later sue Microsoft for both patent violations and alleged theft of technology that GO had demonstrated to Microsoft under NDA.

Apple's Newton: 1993 - 1998

By the time the EO and Zoomer reached the market in 1993, Apple was finishing its own entry into the tablet market with its Newton Message Pad. That device was the result of years of work to apply Apple's core competencies in platform development and software interfaces to the mobile realm. While the Zoomer was marketed to consumers, Apple's Newton platform was more broadly floated as a way to do lots of things. Unlike the broadly licensed PenPoint and Windows for Pen however, Apple planned to deliver Newton on its own as an integrated product.

Beginning around the Knowledge Navigator concept in the late 80s, Apple had been working for years on how to deliver the next major computing platform, which was widely anticipated at the time to be a pen-driven tablet device. Apple invested in developing a suitable mobile processor with Acorn, creating the ARM partnership that today delivers the vast majority CPUs for mobile and embedded applications. It also worked to develop a completely unique user interface and new development tools. The company's CEO, John Sculley, debuted a Newton prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 1992, coining the term "personal digital assistant" to describe it.

The Message Pad reached the market in late 1993 at about the same $700 price tag as the Zoomer, but with far more advanced technology that killed any prospects for Palm's Casio-built device. That reoriented Hawkins' company toward developing Newton software; Palm created the Graffiti input system to make stylus-driven handwritten recognition easier and more accurate.

On the other side of the early 90s tablet spectrum, AT&T's wireless EO carried a $2000 to $4000 price tag (that's equivalent to about $2900 to $5800 today), which priced it well out of the market for most consumers. Microsoft's Windows for Pen also failed to gain any traction. Apple's Newton failed to attract buyers in the volumes that had been anticipated, leaving the company to radically dial back its investment in the new mobile platform.

Parallel to Newton, a competing tablet-related project within Apple called Paradigm was spun off in 1990 to become General Magic. Unlike Apple's original strategy for Newton, General Magic intended to broadly license its operating system to a variety of hardware makers. Sony, AT&T and Motorola were partners and investors in the company, and each of them brought Magic Cap devices to market in 1994. Apple embroiled itself in lawsuits with General Magic, and by 1998 the struggling company had licensed its technology to Microsoft.



The second wave of tablets: 1997 - 2002

The bitter series of disappointments related to tablet products and "pen computing" in the early 90s dampened interest among consumer electronics companies investigating in launching similar devices. Hawkins hadn't given up on the concept however.

His third attempt at a handheld PDA was launched as the $300 Palm Pilot in conjunction with US Robotics in 1996. By that time, Apple was in deep trouble and its Newton didn't seem to have much future as an Apple-exclusive platform. The Pilot's revolutionary price point attracted lots of attention, which helped result in a resurgence of interest in tablet devices at both Apple and Microsoft.

Apple's then CEO Gil Amelio, charged with the daunting task of turning the faltering company around, both acquired Steve Jobs' NeXT, Inc. and kicked off plans to license the Newton OS and spin off the mobile platform as an independent subsidiary. Following the debut of a faster new generation of Newton 2000 Message Pads and eMate devices in early 1997, Amelio launched Newton Inc., only to see Jobs effectively remove him from power and reabsorb the brand new Newton spinoff just weeks afterward.

Rather than killing the Newton, Jobs said he thought the Newton platform would have a better chance at success within Apple than it would having been spun off as its own company and attempting to work with other hardware licensees. Jobs returned to the spotlight at Apple by presiding over a second product refresh of the Message Pad that was unveiled next to the new PowerMac G3 that fall.

Apple had found a route out of failure, but it was still in danger. After the new Newton models failed to register any significant sales, Jobs announced that Apple would be canceling the entire project and discontinuing all future tablet development to focus on Apple's core strengths in Mac desktops and notebooks; that termination occurred in early 1998.

Hawkin's Palm Pilot had helped fuel new interest in PDAs but also helped to destroy any potential for Newton's success because it effectively ate up all the low hanging fruit, leaving Apple with just the sophisticated high end, a niche market that simply couldn't sustain the development required to maintain such a complex product. At the same time, Microsoft had been working to migrate its mid-90s Windows CE "Handheld PC" concept into a device more like the Palm Pilot, initially calling its new PDA the "Palm PC" until Palm sued Microsoft to force it to come up with an original name: Pocket PC.

When the Dot Com collapse occurred in 2000, the imagined market for PDA executive toys largely evaporated, leaving the rival PDA products from Palm and Microsoft contending for a much smaller market than either had planned to service. Apple was no doubt relieved that it had exited the market a couple years prior.

On page 3 of 3: The rise of mobile devices.

The rise of mobile devices: 2001 - 2009

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates initially hoped to shift the remaining interest in mobile devices to a new category of modified laptops with stylus input. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant called the new product the Tablet PC, which Gates introduced in 2001 along with the prediction that everyone would be using Tablet PCs as their primary computer within just a few years. Tablet PC was a lot like Windows for Pen from the previous decade: a reference design that allowed hardware partners to create tablet devices without really trying, simply by bundling Microsoft's operating system. It did not fare much better.

Apple introduced a much more narrowly focused mobile product later that same year: iPod. Meanwhile, Hawkins had left Palm to develop Handspring as a PDA maker with more creative flexibility. Handspring happened upon pairing the PDA with a cellular phone module to create a new generation of smartphone. That caught the attention of Palm, which acquired Handspring and refocused itself from making PDAs toward the new Treo smartphone that Hawkins' group had developed.

Palm's smartphones were rivaled by Nokia's Symbian devices (which had similarly grown from PDA roots), the new BlackBerry smartphones from RIM (which had evolved from that company's pager business), and Microsoft's new Windows Mobile initiative, which had similarly hoped to salvage the company's investments in making PDA devices and apply them toward the vast new potential in smartphones. After a brief period of leadership, Palm lost control of the smartphone market that it had helped to create, and eventually resorted to licensing Microsoft's Windows Mobile in 2006.

During the same decade, Microsoft also hoped to leverage its Windows CE PDA operating system under the Windows Media brand to take on Apple's blockbuster success with the iPod. Windows Media fared poorly against the iPod, adding failure on top of the Tablet PC initiatives that churned out generation after generation of tablet devices that never gained any significant traction in the market.

Apple continued advancing the iPod and iTunes until 2007, when it debuted the iPhone as its own concept for a smartphone. That year, Microsoft grew increasingly concerned as it realized that Apple's iPhone would leverage the success of the iPod to potentially rival its own Windows Mobile smartphone platform, which had been flickering hints of future promise among an otherwise dark outlook for its mobile and consumer offerings.

Before Apple introduced the iPhone, the threat of a successful mobile operating system controlled by Microsoft was enough to compel Google to enter the smartphone business in a defensive effort to keep the market open for mobile ads and paid search results. Google purchased Android in 2003 and continued work on the effort to rival Microsoft until debuting it in 2007 in the wake of the iPhone.

Over the first three generations of the iPhone, Apple broadened the new platform into a new iPod touch model and built a solid array of third party developers around its new smartphone platform. Engineers who were worked to the bone within Apple left to help design a new device at Palm. That company's original Palm OS had failed along with its strategy to license Windows Mobile; both were scuttled once the company's new WebOS was introduced in 2009 running on the Palm Pre.

Google's Android efforts have helped kill off Microsoft's intended market for a paid mobile operating system, much as the cheap Palm Pilot had helped prevent Apple's Newton from going anywhere. In smartphones, Nokia's shrinking plurality of market share is being rivaled by Apple's iPhone, RIM's BlackBerry family, Google's Android platform, and to a smaller extent, Palm's WebOS, the remains of Windows Mobile, and some new entries into the arena including Samsung's Bada platform and HTC's new BREW devices.

That intense competition is widely expected to whittle the array of platforms down to a few winners, at least according to most pundits. It may also be that a healthy number of rival operating systems can coexist while posing little problem for consumers, given how little mobile software costs. Among PCs in the 80s and 90s, compatibility with third party software titles (and the operating system they depended upon) was a much bigger issue for users. Today, there does not seem to be many significant barriers stopping consumers from trying a new smartphone platform. Many people carry both a BlackBerry and an iPhone, for example, or have moved from Windows Mobile or the Palm OS to a modern smartphone without worrying about losing their software investments in the prior platform.



Return of the tablet: 2010

After three blockbuster iPhone launches, each followed by a successful iPod touch introduction, observers naturally began to wonder how Apple would expand its new mobile device franchise. Over the previous decade, Apple engineers built a series of prototype devices that were all rejected, ranging from mini notebooks to a tablet Web browser (which ended up being incorporated as the Mobile Safari app used in the iPhone). Steve Jobs even noted that one of the things he was most proud of was resisting the desire to launch a new tablet device without first putting into place the ecosystem needed to sustain it.

Launching a tablet product, even with impressive hardware features, is almost certainly doomed to failure unless it is delivered with a ready audience willing to support it. A major problem for the Newton was that Apple simply threw the product at the market as a toy with incredible potential. It didn't do enough out of the box to warrant buying one. That left zero potential for ever building a critical mass needed to attract the very third party development that was needed to make it worthy of buying.

A similar problem plagued the Zoomer and the EO. On the other hand, the Palm Pilot was practical and useful even without ever installing apps, which both contributed to its user base and helped pique the interest of developers. Microsoft's Tablet PC wasn't a very practical product without third party software, which certainly worked against its popularity. And, of course, the iPhone also shipped fully functional; for its first year it stood on its own merits without even having an official mechanism for installing additional software.

Conversely, hype alone hasn't yet stoked blockbuster interest in either the WebOS-based Palm Pre or in Google's Android phones, leaving their third party software options limited and subsequently suppressing the financial reasons for developers to get involved in changing that situation. Google's official plan is to simply push out enough Android phones to reach critical mass, but no model has yet delivered sales worth bragging about, and nearly every new introduction adds hardware features that make it more difficult for developers to deploy software that works seamlessly across all Android devices.

At and around this year's CES, a variety of manufacturers debuted hardware tablet devices with unclear primary functions and limited utility out of the box. Apple's expected tablet won't have that problem because the company already has the attention of developers in iPhone and iPod touch development, and is reportedly working with its software partners to adapt their existing mobile applications to the new tablet's screen and user interface.

If successful in launching its new tablet design, Apple will also be insulated from imitation, as its software infrastructure is closely tied to its own software platform and can't realistically be adapted to support hardware clones (just as no other smartphones can run iPhone apps). And given that Apple will be marketing its tablet to iTunes, Mac, iPhone, and iPod touch users, the company's competitors will all need to set up their own iTunes-equivalent or work out from scratch how to sync their new device with users' PCs and smartphones.

That's a daunting task that has stymied Palm's WebOS and similarly forces Android users to rely on cloud sync. It's a tall order even for major manufacturers like Sony, which was completely flummoxed when trying to compete against the much simpler iPod. How will vendors respond to Apple's tablet announcement? The remains of 2010 should offer an exciting look at whether tablet devices have the potential to become an important product among consumer electronics, and what companies will benefit from any growth that occurs.
post #2 of 201
I just called to say I'm first.....
post #3 of 201
yeah.. I bit to long to read while at work. maybe later.

My predictions for jan 27.

Sending girlfriend off.
Calling in sick.
Liveblogs
Clicking "Buy Now"
post #4 of 201
There will be no 'Tablet Device' !!!

There will be a new iPhone with incredibly fast processor.

There will then be an accessory that acts as a large touchscreen display into which the iphone will fit, and will be either OLED, or PixelQI, optimised for reading, but capable of any kind of digital media, including HD video playback etc.

post #5 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by GlynC View Post

There will be no 'Tablet Device' !!!

There will be a new iPhone with incredibly fast processor.

There will then be an accessory that acts as a large touchscreen display into which the iphone will fit, and will be either OLED, or PixelQI, optimised for reading, but capable of any kind of digital media, including HD video playback etc.


My friend, I call bullshit.
MacBook Pro 17" Glossy 2.93GHz, iPad 64GB, iPhone 4 16GB, and a lot of other assorted goodies.

If you're a troll and you have been slain. Don't be a Zombie.
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MacBook Pro 17" Glossy 2.93GHz, iPad 64GB, iPhone 4 16GB, and a lot of other assorted goodies.

If you're a troll and you have been slain. Don't be a Zombie.
Reply
post #6 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsNly View Post

My friend, I call bullshit.

...this way you get a fully functional iPhone for your pocket, plus a large-screen adaptation for your briefcase/man bag.

It'll probably have its own battery to support the larger screen, it'll use a proprietary connector for the display and multitouch-ness etc.

Also, you'll have a phone and 'tablet' with one wireless data subscription.
post #7 of 201
That's a great comprehensive analytical article -I really enjoyed it!

It's all interesting, but again, is there a market for a Tablet? I enjoy the iPhone immensely as, in addition to phoning and texting, I can surf, get and post email, and play my tunes and take a photo and lots and lots of other stuff. But the really great thing about the iPhone is that it fits in my pocket. It's effortless to take with me. A tablet on the other hand, for all intents and purposes, will be about as effortless as a laptop - which takes far more effort than carrying an iPhone.

I wonder whether Apple will be marketing the tablet as a worthy substitute for the laptop? Laptops have media drives which are often very useful. I wonder whether Apple have found room in their tablet for a DVD media drive?
post #8 of 201
Well, the hugissime material titled "history of tablet computing" somewhat surprisingly makes it apparent, that there was no tablet in the history of computing.

For starters, nobody knows how to sell tablets (hoping to see your market analysis, Prince). Yup, it seldom matters how good a product is inside itself. It's always about how you're going to sell it. There're now Apple's 70/30 scheme, persistent DRM compliance, Apple's notoriety in inviting content providers and distribution (carriers), some other cherries on top of cake, too.

Then, there's no a single ubuntu on the market so far, which could have reached sufficient degree of modularity to successfully fit the form factor. Apple seems to be first to have bred the gang of their cats to make this happen.

Gestures. We're just at the very beginning of the commercial civil exploration on this branch of human-machine interaction design and ergonomics. And Apple again seems to have not the worst parcel ever to get started with unearthing of what valuable could be in there.

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

Reply

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

Reply
post #9 of 201
All of that and not a single mention of Apple's Inkwell? Certainly was/is an indication that Apple has long supported the notion of tablet computing even if it was only supported by third parties for the Mac.
post #10 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsNly View Post

My friend, I call bullshit.


Exactly, what were you expecting: a giant iPhone with a violin style chin rest?
post #11 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelcruncher View Post

All of that and not a single mention of Apple's Inkwell? Certainly was/is an indication that Apple has long supported the notion of tablet computing even if it was only supported by third parties for the Mac.

Well, if Prince made sure he mentioned every single tablet-related technology, he'd still be writing the piece

Kasper
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Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
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EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
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post #12 of 201
There are two ways this Tablet can go for me.

If Apple decide to make a brilliant device that runs OSX 10.6 where I can install Adobe CS4, Apache, PHP, ColdFusion, Office etc I'm in and you can happily take my cash. But I only want one 3G phone contract.

However, if Apple plump for the iPhone OSX with iTunes AppStore apps lockdown you can count me out. I already have an iPhone 3GS and and a MacBook running CS4 and the rest and that will suit me fine until my contract is up and i'll just pick-up the next gen iPhone.

This tablet needs to replace my laptop - possibly taking out the MacBook Air. What it don't need to be is a large iPhone.
post #13 of 201
I hope that it's a scaled down MacBook rather than a scaled up iPhone. x86 rather than ARM. If it does run x86, I'll buy one in an instant to replace my netbook.

And boo for not including Psion in this report.
post #14 of 201
Nice article! Articles like this are why AppleInsider is my favorite Apple blog.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlynC View Post

There will be no 'Tablet Device' !!!

There will be a new iPhone with incredibly fast processor.

There will then be an accessory that acts as a large touchscreen display into which the iphone will fit, and will be either OLED, or PixelQI, optimised for reading, but capable of any kind of digital media, including HD video playback etc.


That's a great idea and the most fresh prediction I've heard in a long time... I'd be on board for that accessory and an iPhone upgrade in a second (especially if it comes out on Verizon or Sprint).

Rob
post #15 of 201
We're all, in one way or another, setting ourselves up for disappointment in a week and a half

(except those who are ignoring the whole thing - but is that anyone?)
post #16 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by powderdust View Post

However, if Apple plump for the iPhone OSX with iTunes AppStore apps lockdown you can count me out.

Guess you're out then!
post #17 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by powderdust View Post

There are two ways this Tablet can go for me.

If Apple decide to make a brilliant device that runs OSX 10.6 where I can install Adobe CS4, Apache, PHP, ColdFusion, Office etc I'm in and you can happily take my cash. But I only want one 3G phone contract.

However, if Apple plump for the iPhone OSX with iTunes AppStore apps lockdown you can count me out. I already have an iPhone 3GS and and a MacBook running CS4 and the rest and that will suit me fine until my contract is up and i'll just pick-up the next gen iPhone.

This tablet needs to replace my laptop - possibly taking out the MacBook Air. What it don't need to be is a large iPhone.

This +10000000.
post #18 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by powderdust;

This tablet needs to replace my laptop - possibly taking out the MacBook Air. What it don't need to be is a large iPhone.

It's an intermediate device. No need for Apple to cannibalize their laptop sales. People will think, what's the point of buying a laptop when the tablet does the same. Vice versa. Prepare to be disappointed.


Edit: The Appstore has over 100,000 apps. There's already an Autodesk's Sketchbook app for the iPhone. I'm not surprised if Adobe decides to build CS 4 tablet edition.
post #19 of 201
Do Apple have a history of cannibalizing old product names? Wasn't the iBook the "consumer" level portable during the late PowerBook days?
post #20 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by powderdust View Post

There are two ways this Tablet can go for me.

If Apple decide to make a brilliant device that runs OSX 10.6 where I can install Adobe CS4, Apache, PHP, ColdFusion, Office etc I'm in and you can happily take my cash. But I only want one 3G phone contract.

I disagree to a certain extent. If they were to simply put 10.6 on the tablet they would be making the same mistake MS made with the Tablet PC. The best idea is to fully redesign 10.6 to make it touch-based. Supposedly the iPhone OS came from the tablet project. Hopefully this is where Apple is headed. It won't use CS4 but it would give Adobe a chance to give a much needed redesign to the bloated and hideous UI of their apps like Photoshop.

My main problem is that I think it is the future of Apple computing. Let me explain. Look at the progression of Apple products during the Jobs era. The Apple II was a completely open device and fully customizable. The Mac essentially stopped those hardware customizations but there was still a level of openness to software though it was more simplified compared to the Apple II. The tablet will be a fully locked down device where the only apps you can install are the apps that Apple says it ok to use and it is even less complex in it's capabilities compared to Mac OSX.

I find the idea of moving computers to closed environment to be very disturbing.
post #21 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwee View Post

yeah.. I bit to long to read while at work. maybe later.

My predictions for jan 27.

Sending girlfriend off.
Calling in sick.
Liveblogs
Clicking "Buy Now"

You won't be alone.
post #22 of 201
This was an excellent article, and brought back a lot of memories for me. I owned many of the devices!

I think there is a big piece that is missing though, and I think it is the reason why the iPod through iPhone products have been successful where others have not. It has to do with MEDIA. In developing the iPod, Jobs struck deals with all the record labels to offer songs that are downloadable through iTunes. This was the groundbreaking idea, offering the infrastructure all the way from the product (the song) to the listener.

With the iPhone and Apple TV came the deals with TV companies and Studios. Next, with the iSlate, there will be deals with publishers so that we can get rich magazine content on a convenient device. This will be a Kindle killer.

I was also surprised that Danger/Sidekick didn't get a mention, since they were an instrumental player in the business, and inspired teens to get into mobile computing/messaging/social networking.
post #23 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL;

I hope that it's a scaled down MacBook rather than a scaled up iPhone. x86 rather than ARM. If it does run x86, I'll buy one in an instant to replace my netbook.

And boo for not including Psion in this report.

Tell me what chip that's more energy efficient than ARM? No the Intel Atom is not one of them.
post #24 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgkin View Post

Do Apple have a history of cannibalizing old product names? Wasn't the iBook the "consumer" level portable during the late PowerBook days?

I can only think of minor products getting old product names. i.e. "Superdrive" - which used to be Floppy Disc Drive and "Apple Mouse" which is now the old Mighty Mouse.

With Inkwell dating back to 2003 it's easy to see that Apple have a very well polished product to announce, now that the world is ready.
post #25 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by powderdust View Post

There are two ways this Tablet can go for me.

If Apple decide to make a brilliant device that runs OSX 10.6 where I can install Adobe CS4, Apache, PHP, ColdFusion, Office etc I'm in and you can happily take my cash. But I only want one 3G phone contract.

However, if Apple plump for the iPhone OSX with iTunes AppStore apps lockdown you can count me out. I already have an iPhone 3GS and and a MacBook running CS4 and the rest and that will suit me fine until my contract is up and i'll just pick-up the next gen iPhone.

This tablet needs to replace my laptop - possibly taking out the MacBook Air. What it don't need to be is a large iPhone.

Then you can count yourself out right now. This device will NOT be a micro Mac. It will NOT replace your laptop. And I suppose you want all the ports too, huh. USB, Firewire, eSATA, DVI, RS-232, Parallel, LightSpeed, Mini Displayport, NuBus, SCSI.

In your dreams only. This will be a specialized device and will disappoint all the nerds living in their parent's basements. It will be declared an epic fail, as usual by the usual suspects, and then go on to take a brand new market nobody has thought of by storm. As another blog post said somewhere, Apple will teach us why we need this device and the rest of the industry will follow suit. Just like the Mac. Just like the iPod. Just like the iPhone.
post #26 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwee View Post

My predictions for jan 27.

Sending girlfriend off.
Calling in sick.
Liveblogs
Clicking "Buy Now"

Sounds like a cool day!
post #27 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazybrit@mac.com View Post

I was also surprised that Danger/Sidekick didn't get a mention, since they were an instrumental player in the business, and inspired teens to get into mobile computing/messaging/social networking.

Actually, Danger/Sidekick devices were popular, but that's NOT because they were good. Sure, they may have looked cool, but the actual software was crap. Even my friend that bought one said that they were pieces of crap, and then a few months later swapped it for an iPhone. Apparently didn't like it enough to even pay the termination fees to get out of contract to stop using it! So... yes, they were popular, but once people bought them, they were pretty unsatisfied with what the phone could do. The device definitely was one of the first to allow a keyboard on a phone, but that's not really original thinking if the phone is intended to be used as a texting device, so I'd say even its main point is pretty lame. The server outage didn't make things better BTW But yeah, it would have sufficed to give Danger one line or so to say it was a third-rate product that got blown away by the iPhone... sort of like what Steve Jobs was saying about Windows, except this time it's Danger.
post #28 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

And I suppose you want all the ports too, huh. USB, Firewire, eSATA, DVI, RS-232, Parallel, LightSpeed, Mini Displayport, NuBus, SCSI.

Yeah!! Throw in PS/2, VGA, HDMI, coaxial audio, Ethernet and phone line for good measure!

One should also of course be able to swap its internal CD for a floppy drive.
post #29 of 201
Will I be able to swap out the flash for a SCSI drive?
post #30 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Then you can count yourself out right now. This device will NOT be a micro Mac. It will NOT replace your laptop. And I suppose you want all the ports too, huh. USB, Firewire, eSATA, DVI, RS-232, Parallel, LightSpeed, Mini Displayport, NuBus, SCSI.

In your dreams only. This will be a specialised device and will disappoint all the nerds living in their parent's basements. It will be declared an epic fail, as usual by the usual suspects, and then go on to take a brand new market nobody has thought of by storm. As another blog post said somewhere, Apple will teach us why we need this device and the rest of the industry will follow suit. Just like the Mac. Just like the iPod. Just like the iPhone.

You see the thing is I'm not that nerd in my parent's basement. As you my have read I would like the tablet to be a replacement for my laptop. Fine - I can do with out most of the connect-ability ports. Accessing DVDs for software loading over a network works fine for the MacBook Air. I would like the ability to run CS4 at least - after all I am a designer and Mac is upheld dearly by the design community.

I would like the tablet change the way people work on a MAC OSX environment the same way the iPhone changed the way people used a mobile phone. I understand the limitations of connect-ability but there should be no issue with capacity as the MBA works fine running CS4.
post #31 of 201
Not a bad article, makes it clear that Tablets on their own are a hard sell, you need infrastructure and software.

My worries about a tablet are that the display is unprotected during travelling. That is something that a netbook solves. However a good scratch-proof, oleophobic display might not be as fragile as it would initially seem.

Certainly a few App Store applications will be being ported already to the iSlate (for want of a better name right now) by NDA'd third parties. I imagine a few games, some drawing/art software, and other stuff that might look good in the keynote soon.

After the keynote, when iPhone OS 4.0 has been announced, and the 4.0 SDK is out, normal application developers will get up to two months before physical release to tablet-ise their iPhone apps, and create new widgets for the tablet's "desktop". There could be thousands of tablet applications ready by the shipping date - unprecedented for a new class of device from a manufacturer.
post #32 of 201
Just thought - Adobe might make CS4 for tablet OSX - then...bugger! I may have to buy one.
post #33 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by powderdust View Post

there are two ways this tablet can go for me.

If apple decide to make a brilliant device that runs osx 10.6 where i can install adobe cs4, apache, php, coldfusion, office etc i'm in and you can happily take my cash. But i only want one 3g phone contract.

However, if apple plump for the iphone osx with itunes appstore apps lockdown you can count me out. I already have an iphone 3gs and and a macbook running cs4 and the rest and that will suit me fine until my contract is up and i'll just pick-up the next gen iphone.

This tablet needs to replace my laptop - possibly taking out the macbook air. What it don't need to be is a large iphone.

exactly

iPhone 4S 64GB, Black, soon to be sold in favor of a Nokia Lumia 920
Early 2010 MacBook Pro 2.4GHz, soon to be replaced with a Retina MacBook Pro, or an Asus U500

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iPhone 4S 64GB, Black, soon to be sold in favor of a Nokia Lumia 920
Early 2010 MacBook Pro 2.4GHz, soon to be replaced with a Retina MacBook Pro, or an Asus U500

Reply
post #34 of 201
Nice piece guys. This is exactly the reason why AI is so cherished.
post #35 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Then you can count yourself out right now. This device will NOT be a micro Mac. It will NOT replace your laptop. And I suppose you want all the ports too, huh. USB, Firewire, eSATA, DVI, RS-232, Parallel, LightSpeed, Mini Displayport, NuBus, SCSI.

In your dreams only. This will be a specialized device and will disappoint all the nerds living in their parent's basements. It will be declared an epic fail, as usual by the usual suspects, and then go on to take a brand new market nobody has thought of by storm. As another blog post said somewhere, Apple will teach us why we need this device and the rest of the industry will follow suit. Just like the Mac. Just like the iPod. Just like the iPhone.

Nopes.

It will have 2 USBs and a Mini Display Port. It's all it needs to be a fully functional computer.

iPhone 4S 64GB, Black, soon to be sold in favor of a Nokia Lumia 920
Early 2010 MacBook Pro 2.4GHz, soon to be replaced with a Retina MacBook Pro, or an Asus U500

Reply

iPhone 4S 64GB, Black, soon to be sold in favor of a Nokia Lumia 920
Early 2010 MacBook Pro 2.4GHz, soon to be replaced with a Retina MacBook Pro, or an Asus U500

Reply
post #36 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustReelFilms View Post

It's an intermediate device. No need for Apple to cannibalize their laptop sales. People will think, what's the point of buying a laptop when the tablet does the same. Vice versa. Prepare to be disappointed.

Exactly. It has to be thought of more as a netbook or as a replacement for a netbook. It might eventually come to replace laptops, (years from now), but it's certainly not going to do so out of the box on the first go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustReelFilms View Post

... I'm not surprised if Adobe decides to build CS 4 tablet edition.

Wow. This actually scares me. I sure hope they don't.

On the other hand though, let's face it ... it's probably completely beyond Adobe's capabilities to make CS4 for Apple's tablet at this point. I would say that other software houses have at least a year or two to fill the gap before Adobe would be ready to put anything on it.

Here's hoping Pixelmator has been working on iPhone apps behind the scenes.
post #37 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by jglavin View Post

We're all, in one way or another, setting ourselves up for disappointment in a week and a half

(except those who are ignoring the whole thing - but is that anyone?)

Not ignoring the whole thing, but my own expectations are so low that any surprises will be exactly that.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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post #38 of 201
Excellent history.

As a footnote, Go Corp also brought one of the first antitrust complaints against Microsoft, to the FTC, which failed to act. This led to the Department of Justice taking up the case, which led to a consent decree, which Microsoft essentially ignored, which then led to years of federal litigation against Microsoft.
Please don't be insane.
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Please don't be insane.
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post #39 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeskymac View Post

Nopes.

It will have 2 USBs and a Mini Display Port. It's all it needs to be a fully functional computer.

This is really unlikely given that the Apple product with the closest form factor to the tablet right now (the Air) has only one USB port.

It will have probably have an iPhone dock connector also, so there will be no need for an extra video out port. If there is no need, it won't be included. Apple is usually very anal about that kind of thing.

Personally, I doubt that it will have any connectors other than a headphone jack and a dock connector.
post #40 of 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by powderdust View Post

There are two ways this Tablet can go for me.

If Apple decide to make a brilliant device that runs OSX 10.6 where I can install Adobe CS4, Apache, PHP, ColdFusion, Office etc I'm in and you can happily take my cash. But I only want one 3G phone contract.

However, if Apple plump for the iPhone OSX with iTunes AppStore apps lockdown you can count me out. I already have an iPhone 3GS and and a MacBook running CS4 and the rest and that will suit me fine until my contract is up and i'll just pick-up the next gen iPhone.

This tablet needs to replace my laptop - possibly taking out the MacBook Air. What it don't need to be is a large iPhone.

There are plenty of Windows 7 tablets out there. Maybe those would better suit your fancy (they don't seem to that popular though). What people want out of this rumored tablet never ceases to amaze me. A sub $1000 tablet would likely run on netbook level hardware as is suggested in almost every thread, and Arm not Atom (so not x86). Hardware wise, that pegs it as a netbook replacement, not a laptop replacement. This shouldn't be expected to replace your laptop unless you use your laptop as a netbook.

Historically tablets have cost more than their touch less counterparts. Apple wont break any new ground here. If you want a tablet to replace a macbook, expect it to cost more than a macbook. If you want one to replace a macbook pro, expect it to cost more than a macbook pro. Of course as you increase cost, you dramatically decrease the number of perspective buyers.

Where Apple will break new ground is in doing things a traditional computing device doesn't, ease of use, and content delivery. For that, you have to deviate a lot from the traditional desktop OS. I think an OS (and apps) designed and optimized for the hardware and touch input provides a much better starting point than OSX does.

Furthermore, can you name one feature of iPhone OS 4.0? You can't because Apple hasn't introduced it yet. An Apple tablet based on iPhone OS would be running at least iPhone OS 4.0 with (likely) a custom UI, if not its own version altogether. Think forward, not backwards. If the hardware was capable and there was demand, you would get your apps on iPhone OS and when you did, they would be optimized for the hardware and designed for a touch screen. Why do so many people want to go down the failed windows route?
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