Apple's much-anticipated tablet device coming early next year

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Exclusive: After four years of meticulous development riddled with setbacks, Apple is now racing toward an early 2010 launch of a device that may see the electronics maker redefine the portable computing market for the second time in twice as many years.



It seems like a long time coming. Nearly two years have passed since AppleInsider exclusively reported in September of 2007 that Apple's next big product initiative would be a modern day reincarnation of its beloved-but-defunct Newton MessagePad. And it's believed the device had been slowly evolving as an R&D project for at least a year prior.



The 10-inch, 3G-enabled tablet, akin to a jumbo iPod touch, is the latest brainchild of chief executive Steve Jobs. That distinction, as insiders will tell you, carries its share of baggage. Under the critical eye of Jobs, contours must be precise, each pixel of the interface has to match a particular vision, and there can be no fault -- no matter how slight -- or it's back to the drawing board.



As such, AppleInsider has observed silently as the project was reset at least a half-dozen times over the past 24 months. Each time, development was frozen and key aspects of the device rethought, retooled and repositioned. At times, those close to the Apple co-founder had their doubts that it would ever see the light of day, just like a smaller PDA device he canned a few years after returning to the company.



However, the past six months have reportedly seen the critical pieces fall into place. Jobs, who's been overseeing the project from his home, office and hospital beds, has finally achieved that much-sought aura of satisfaction. He's since cemented the device in the company's 2010 roadmap, where it's being positioned for a first quarter launch, according to people well-respected by AppleInsider for their striking accuracy in Apple's internal affairs.



That means that the device, which is expected to retail for somewhere between the cost of a high-end iPhone and Apple's most affordable Mac notebook, is bound to turn up any time between January and March, should there be no last minute setbacks. Analyst's following the Cupertino-based company may consider factoring first full-quarter sales of the device into their models for calendar Q2.



Although Apple maintains publicly that it's thrilled with the relationship it has with exclusive U.S. wireless provider AT&T, the company has a bone or two to pick with the carrier behind closed doors. It's no secret AT&T's lagging has delayed some vital aspects of the iPhone experience stateside, and as such, other people familiar with the matter say Apple is now in active talks with rival Verizon Wireless over the possibility of the carrier playing a key role in providing Internet access for its tablet device.



AppleInsider has also picked up in recent months that its initial artist's rendition of the tablet device was off the mark proportionately and has since taken another stab at what the product may look like in respect to the iPhone, as can be seen below.



Much of the holdup in bringing the multi-touch tablet to market is thought to have revolved around a particular issue for which Apple struggled to find a solution, before ultimately settling on a brain transplant. Upon conception, it's believed the device was destined to be based around Intel's first Atom processor, then dubbed Silverthorn.



Deborah Conrad, a vice president in charge of Intel's Apple division, went on record in March of 2006 as saying that her colleagues were excited that Apple was "thinking different" about her company's upcoming offerings and the possibility for future Apple gadgets using the chipmaker's technology. Though she ruled out the possibility of an Intel-based iPod, it was the prospect of other devices that reportedly got her team "very, very excited."



Indeed, rumors would follow that Apple had signed on to adopt Atom in some of its products. These products never materialized. Though AppleInsider admittedly lacks hard evidence to this end, hints from insiders suggest that the company was dissatisfied with the battery life it was achieving from pre-production devices employing such chips.







It was around this time that the company moved forward with its $278 million buyout of fabless chip designer P.A. Semi. Dissatisfied with existing system-on-a-chip solutions incapable of producing the results it sought, Apple's objective was to create its own around ARM-based designs renowned for their superior power management characteristics. This decision is believed to have led to considerable discontent on the part of Intel executives who -- looking to jump-start their Atom platform -- were less than thrilled over the loss of Apple's business.



Sentiment over the matter appeared to come to a head a few months later when a pair of Intel executives had a field day badmouthing the iPhone and its embedded ARM processor at the company's developer forum in Taipei. That was the same forum where the chip maker was touting its upcoming Moorestown platform for next-generation mobile Internet devices (MIDs) that encompasses a future-generation Atom chip.



Intel vice president of mobility Shane Wall teamed with colleague Pankaj Kedia, the chipmaker's ultra-mobility ecosystems director, in lambasting the iPhone as a device dependent on technology that was, so they claimed, a full two to three years behind that which Intel could offer.



"If you want to run full Internet, you're going to have to run an Intel-based architecture," Wall told a gathering of engineers, further asserting that the iPhone "struggles" when tasked with running "any sort of application that requires any horse power."



"The shortcomings of the iPhone are not because of Apple," added Kedia. "The shortcomings of the iPhone have come from ARM." Wall then jumped back in and alleged that "even if they do have full capability, the performance will be so poor." To that, Kedia added: "I know what their roadmap is, I know where they're going and I'm not worried."



It was a nasty one-way exchange that prompted Intel's senior vice president Anand Chandrasekher to issue a correction less than 48 hours later over the "inappropriate" comments made by his lower-level executives. In the correction, Chandrasekher distanced Intel from the executives' remarks and conceded that Atom had a long ways to go before it could attempt to rival the power efficiency and battery life characteristics that ARM chips provide for handheld devices.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 332
    I'd hope that the artist's rendition has been changed... while the iPhone is a pretty device, I'd rather have some brushed aluminum... I say, make it look like a macbook air in terms of the curves, but no hinged screen.
  • Reply 2 of 332
    unferthunferth Posts: 18member
    Yeah, the chrome ring just doesn't scale for me. Kind of throws the whole self-assured "this is happening" tone of the article into doubt.
  • Reply 3 of 332
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,595member
    Ding ding... for the commencement of round two of the New Predictions for the Forthcoming iTablet / AirTouch. Or was that round three? or four?



    I'll stand by my past comments that I can't be bothered to re-iterate even if I could remember them, and wait for the product to actually turn up.
  • Reply 4 of 332
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by unferth View Post


    Yeah, the chrome ring just doesn't scale for me. Kind of throws the whole self-assured "this is happening" tone of the article into doubt.



    FWIW, it's just a rendition of what the device likely looks like based on verbal descriptions. We used the iPhone materials as a basis for the rendition but I have no idea if it has chrome on it or not.



    K
  • Reply 5 of 332
    randythotrandythot Posts: 109member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jr0ckett View Post


    I'd hope that the artist's rendition has been changed... while the iPhone is a pretty device, I'd rather have some brushed aluminum... I say, make it look like a macbook air in terms of the curves, but no hinged screen.





    I prefer the bead-blasted aluminum of the MacBook Pro series.

    Personally, I'm also curious if they will use glossy screen. I realize the glossy is nice from an ID standpoint because the glass is thicker and stronger, but I'm a matte fan.
  • Reply 6 of 332
    cbw87cbw87 Posts: 36member
    It looks like it has a 4:3 aspect ratio: surely this can't be true?
  • Reply 7 of 332
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    One has to wonder (assuming this story is right in the particulars) why this device had to go back to the drawing board so many times if it's "just" an iPod touch with a much better screen. Actually, that probably pretty easy to answer: I would assume that this thing would need to be a bit more like the Mac OS while still keeping the features of the iPhone OS. I mean, you at least need a Finder, right? And the ability to edit iWork files.
  • Reply 8 of 332
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cbw87 View Post


    It looks like it has a 4:3 aspect ratio: surely this can't be true?



    You guys are reading too much into the rendition. It's just to show a size comparison to the iPhone. The aspect ratio should mirror that of the iPhone.



    K
  • Reply 9 of 332
    randythotrandythot Posts: 109member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cbw87 View Post


    It looks like it has a 4:3 aspect ratio: surely this can't be true?



    I don't think that would be too bad, because I can't see living with a widescreen and a keyboard.

    On your comment though, the aspect ratio must have been an interesting challenge.

    I'm sure they'll position this to do eReader, along with a soft keyboard, video, and photos.

    Hopefully it will have enough video power to output to an external projector.

    This form factor would also generally be large enough to include a pico-projector?
  • Reply 10 of 332
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    The lighter, the better. 300 g or less would be great.



    The smaller, the better. Pocketable would be great.



    Firewire for repairs via Target Disk Mode.



    At least two USB 2 ports for wireless remote control and pendrive.



    Ethernet port.



    Wifi.



    Bluetooth.



    Touch screen.



    Full and true GPS (TomTom compatible).



    Full Mac OS X for full blown presentations from NATIVE Apple Keynote and Microsoft PowerPoint via video-out port to videoprojectors (with VGA adapter cable).



    Here it is:



    iNetbook rerendered

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotoboer/3226244527



    First picture of:

    Next Apple moves will be Books and Games?

    http://spidouz.wordpress.com/2008/09...ooks-and-games



    We need thousands for our University.
  • Reply 11 of 332
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    Ding ding... for the commencement of round two of the New Predictions for the Forthcoming iTablet / AirTouch. Or was that round three? or four?



    More like twice a year for the past 4 years.



    Kinda like all those AppleInsider posts about the Mac mini being discontinued in 2007.
  • Reply 12 of 332
    jwyattjwyatt Posts: 93member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jr0ckett View Post


    I'd hope that the artist's rendition has been changed... while the iPhone is a pretty device, I'd rather have some brushed aluminum... I say, make it look like a macbook air in terms of the curves, but no hinged screen.



    I'd agree with all the design comments so far. Here's hoping it doesn't resemble a big iphone/touch. It needs power sipping oled screen, and a form factor more in line with the new macbooks and imac...glass to the edge with crisp corners, slightly tapered on the back. Maybe even the black back panel like the imac, non-slip surface. I'm drooling !
  • Reply 13 of 332
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    and wait for the product to actually turn up.



    agreed. I opened the article expecting to see "Apple has announced that they are in fact working on a tablet/net book device" and instead I get a bunch of rumors which may or may not come true.



    that headline really should read "Apple's much rumored tablet could come early next year"
  • Reply 14 of 332
    naman34naman34 Posts: 21member
    Isn't Appleinsider, being bold here. I mean we've all seen the rumors of tablet pc come and go. I don't know hwo they can be sure this time. I wonder if this is just another stab in the dark. Trying to predict something that probably won't happen. Anyway I really wish they are right.
  • Reply 15 of 332
    kpluckkpluck Posts: 500member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Under the critical eye of Jobs, contours must be precise, each pixel of the interface has to match a particular vision, and there can be no fault -- no matter how slight -- or it's back to the drawing board.



    Wow...you broke my hyperbole meter!



    -kpluck
  • Reply 16 of 332
    randythotrandythot Posts: 109member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by malax View Post


    One has to wonder (assuming this story is right in the particulars) why this device had to go back to the drawing board so many times if it's "just" an iPod touch with a much better screen. Actually, that probably pretty easy to answer: I would assume that this thing would need to be a bit more like the Mac OS while still keeping the features of the iPhone OS. I mean, you at least need a Finder, right? And the ability to edit iWork files.



    Apple (with PA Semi) outdoing Atom seems possible, but to do it with any large difference was probably the real challenge.



    What I find ironic, is that if Microsoft would/could make Office for iPhone and the new tablet, they would have a rather large market. I'm sure Apple would rather make iWork the standard, though.
  • Reply 17 of 332
    hudson1hudson1 Posts: 800member
    I would not be surprised if we learn some day that the key to allowing this type of device to finally happen was the rewrite of the last pieces of Mac OS X in Cocoa.
  • Reply 18 of 332
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    wife and I have 2 iphones. 3G and 3GS and like them. unlike Mac's these actually have the most powerful hardware on the market in their category. we have the internet everywhere we have a cell phone signal. and they replace a few other devices on the go.



    what exactly is the point of this tablet except as a complementary device?
  • Reply 19 of 332
    So the truth starts to appear, just proving the axiom: All corporations lie, right up to the point that it benefits them to tell the truth.



    Why? Because corporate charters make no one morally responsible for those lies, since a corporation is a fictional "person" undertaking the action of its employees and exempting them from any legal risk.
  • Reply 20 of 332
    jwyattjwyatt Posts: 93member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by randythot View Post


    Apple (with PA Semi) outdoing Atom seems possible, but to do it with any large difference was probably the real challenge.



    What I find ironic, is that if Microsoft would/could make Office for iPhone and the new tablet, they would have a rather large market. I'm sure Apple would rather make iWork the standard, though.





    OHH, iwork on this tablet would be a dream, screw office, can't stand it. What if they also included one of the new mini projector's being discussed in future phone's...!!!
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