The iSlate problem

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I'm really concerned about all the hype surrounding the still unannounced device that will allegedly be introduced this month. Unlike the iPod and the iPhone people (other than we fanboys) didn't expect those two products to succeed. If you think back to the introduction of the iPod it was dismissed outright by the media, pundits, and "tech types." The predictions of failure were numerous and vicious. When the iPod was announced there was actual laughter from the mobile industry. Does anyone remember John Dvorak's utterly contemptuous dismissal and Nokia's scoffing?



However, after the unparalleled success of those two products, the world is a different place these days. Whatever this device is people, and the media, EXPECT it to wow and amaze. They EXPECT it to take this emerging market by storm. Even Dvorak has changed his tune on this one this time. Whereas the iPod and iPhone wowed and amazed because they weren't expected to, let alone succeed in the marketplace, this device is completely over-hyped. No offense to Steve Jobs but the hype can't possibly live up to the reality this time. It remains to be seen if the Steve Jobs RDF can overcome the masses this time. I think not. Mind you, I am as incurable an Apple fanboy as anyone and I am concerned. The device will be excellent, I have doubt about that, but pundits and the media are expecting it to be game changing and will lash out if it doesn't live up to the hype.



Just a thought.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,221member
    I disagree with your premise and your facts. I simply do not recall all the doubt about the iPod. What I do recall is that the record labels were concerned about the device's being used to pirate music.



    The iPhone is a completely different matter. Prior to its introduction, there was massive doubt that it existed. There was also a lot of speculation about what an Apple phone would look like. After its introduction, there were six months of anxious anticipation. That six-month period saw the iPhone referenced in TV shows and, IIRC, music. There may have been some doubt about the success of the iPhone, but it was the kind of doubt you get from people who don't believe that Man walked on the Moon. It was not the doubt of rational people.



    The doubt about Apple's slate is quite different than the doubt about either the iPod or the iPhone. At the heart of current doubt is narrow thinking. It reminds of an old children's story about the five blind brothers and the elephant:
    1. The first brother touched the trunk and said that an elephant must be like a snake.

    2. The second brother touched the ear and said that an elephant must be like a fan.

    3. The third brother touched the leg and said that an elephant must be like a tree.

    4. The fourth brother touched the side and said that an elephant must be like a wall.

    5. The fifth brother touched the tail and said that an elephant must be like a rope.

    The elephant is much more than the combined understanding of the five brothers. So, too, will the slate be more than a larger iPod touch. It will be a general purpose computing device in a rectangular form factor with touch screen interface. It will be limited by its form factor, not by its software. It will also be enabled by its form factor.



    What is it?



    Its a floor wax and a dessert topping!
  • Reply 2 of 58
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,431moderator
    Apple have set their own bar pretty high. The iphone is not only a great device in itself, it fits its target audience almost perfectly. With some minor tweaks, it's the ideal smartphone.



    The slate market is one where they could screw it all up because if they price it too high or not have enough features, it alienates the netbook market. Not enough content and it alienates the ebook market. No desktop app support and it alienates people who want a light desktop experience like a cost-effective MBA.



    I think there are two distinct categories here:



    people who want a great ebook reader/movie device but that runs apps like the ipod. This is a low cost device.



    people who want a netbook experience but with touch. This is higher priced.



    Apple can pull off either one but the choice is up to them which market will be bigger and which route they want to go. I personally think the netbook market is the one to go after. 30 million+ units per year. The kindle only sold about 1 million units so far and I think 3 million of this type in total.



    You can make a netbook-type device into an ebook reader but not the other way round. An ipod touch is already more than that but I don't think a bigger one hits a big enough audience.



    I don't think people expect too much of the islate. There's not much competition. As long as it's at least a bigger and more functional ipod touch that is price competitive with the Kindle and Nook, I think people will be happy with what it offers.
  • Reply 3 of 58
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    people who want a great ebook reader/movie device but that runs apps like the ipod. This is a low cost device.



    people who want a netbook experience but with touch. This is higher priced.




    I think we need to ask - who is buying netbooks and why. And who is buying Kindles and why.



    Products can be classified as content-creation devices or content-consumption devices.



    *Musical instruments versus Records & iPods

    *Typewriters & Notebooks versus Books

    *Video Cameras versus Televisions.



    In all cases, consumption is a mass-market while creation is a smaller niche. This is a given, because audiences outnumber authors.



    There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating devices for content creation. But the PC market already does that. Every computer sold has a rich feature set for the creation of content. What no one has done yet, is create a dedicated computer for the consumption of content.



    In 1890 everyone had a Piano. No one had a gramophone. What happened next?



    C.
  • Reply 4 of 58
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,431moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post


    I think we need to ask - who is buying netbooks and why. And who is buying Kindles and why.



    In all cases, consumption is a mass-market while creation is a smaller niche. This is a given, because audiences outnumber authors.



    While I'd be inclined to agree with that logic, netbooks which exist in this space are selling amazingly well and in fact better than the ebook readers (consumption-only devices) by a large margin (10:1).



    The netbook figures are as follows including projections:



    Year Total Netbook Non-netbook

    Year Notebooks Sales Sales

    2007 103 million *4.3 million 99 million

    2008 133 million 14.6 million 118 million

    2009 153 million 26.3 million 127 million

    2010 177 million 32.8 million 144 million

    2011 207 million 38.9 million 168 million

    2012 241 million 45.7 million 195 million



    That market is now almost the same size as the ipod/iphone market and growing steadily. The ebook reader market is 8% of the size.



    To me that says those devices maybe aren't full-featured enough to satisfy the consumption market, which is perfectly reasonable as they are very limited but couple that with the massive sales of netbooks, which are now at about 20% of all portable sales and it says to me that netbooks do satisfy those people.



    Those people are not high-end production people - they can't be because the netbooks aren't that fast. They are consumers who need to do a large variety of low-end tasks and those people range from server sysadmins all the way down to preteen kids in school.



    If Apple can take even 1/3 of that market, they double their worldwide Mac marketshare in the case of it being a netbook-like slate.



    Even if they wiped out the entire ebook reader market entirely making an ipod/iphone media slate, I don't think anyone would notice.



    Of course the slate won't be just an ebook reader so if we assume the issue with ebook readers is their limited nature then we consider that if the slate in whatever form Apple presents is capable of the functions people use a netbook for, it's irrelevant. But how much productivity is required from a netbook and can it be little enough that iphone OS will suffice? Quite possibly if they ship it with more fully featured apps but then I'd imagine the ARM hardware could struggle.



    The problem I still have with the iphone-like slate is that I just don't see why they wouldn't make an iphone with the ARM Cortex A9 possibly with Tegra 2, bump the RAM to 512MB and simply build a slate screen dock with a big battery and maybe some storage. That way, it solves the data contract issue, when you are on the move you get the same power and content, you get a bigger screen for purchases/rentals made on the iphone and a bigger screen for browsing.



    This means a very low cost for the slate form factor ($99-199) as 60 million people already have what they need to use it and it's an incentive for all of those 60 million people to buy the latest model to have the capability of a netbook device (dual 1GHz) + a great phone.



    For current phone owners, they still get pretty decent use out of it:



    http://gizmodo.com/5045466/the-iphon...ideo-just-fine



    I used to use a 350MHz desktop with 20GB space 384MB RAM and a Rage GPU, no reason why a 600MHz, 16GB, powerVR iphone can't do the same tasks. That desktop wouldn't even handle HD.
  • Reply 5 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    While I'd be inclined to agree with that logic, netbooks which exist in this space are selling amazingly well and in fact better than the ebook readers (consumption-only devices) by a large margin (10:1).




    My ponit is (which I never got round to explaining in my previous post) - what are people doing with their netbooks?



    My guess is that 99% of users - use netbooks *as* media consumption devices only. Netbooks are remarkably good value. But I'd argue that as a reader, or a media player - they are pretty clunky sub-optimal devices.



    And as for e-book readers, I do own one. And its not a very compelling device at all. A single device which did Movies, and web-browsing would be better. IMO.



    C.
  • Reply 6 of 58
    irelandireland Posts: 17,737member
    The iPhone was just as hyped, if not MORE, and no one knew the iPod was coming. I don't get your point. BTW Dvorak is just one person and he doesn't have a clue.
  • Reply 7 of 58
    irelandireland Posts: 17,737member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    The slate market is one where they could screw it all up because if they price it too high or not have enough features, it alienates the netbook market.



    The iPhone was exactly the same, they could have messed up just as easily.
  • Reply 8 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post


    My ponit is (which I never got round to explaining in my previous post) - what are people doing with their netbooks?

    C.



    It's all in the name! A net-book is a cheap portable laptop for people who don't care too much about performance since they're mostly just using it to access the net, read the occasional document and use it as a portable presentation device! If you're anything like me you probably spend most of your personal computing time just surfing the web and chatting, even though I consider myself a relatively power user for certain tasks. People don't need a massive screen for web-surfing, chatting browsing itunes or using it to feed your presentation.



    Where Apple have rightly seen this as a potential market is because not only are most net-books cheap laptops but they also LOOK really cheap and are poorly designed and probably very poor quality. Step in Apple if they can make something of good quality that looks great, has cool software and about the same price point as most netbooks it's a potentially HUGE market as other people have noted.



    The real unknown from here is what OS an iTablet device will use and what apps will be available for it. Anything less than a trimmed down version of OS X would risk alienating those that want an almost fully functional laptop, which they should expect for a net-book pricing point and a 10" screen. They should be able to use most OS X apps too! If they go with a new iTablet OS that is NOT compatible with Mac software this device could be very risky. Who would throw down $700-800 US for something that's basically a big iPhone?
  • Reply 9 of 58
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by s.metcalf View Post


    If they go with a new iTablet OS that is NOT compatible with Mac software this device could be very risky. Who would throw down $700-800 US for something that's basically a big iPhone?



    I don't know about price.



    But I am 100% certain that this device will not run Mac OS X applications. Un-modified desktop apps would have to be fooled into thinking they are running with a mouse and a keyboard. The resulting mess would be a terrible user experience.



    C.
  • Reply 10 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post


    I don't know about price.



    But I am 100% certain that this device will not run Mac OS X applications. Un-modified desktop apps would have to be fooled into thinking they are running with a mouse and a keyboard. The resulting mess would be a terrible user experience.



    C.



    That's actually a pretty good point. Hell, look how fast 100,000 iPhone apps have appeared...I'm sure we could see the same thing or similar for iSlate...
  • Reply 11 of 58
    Believe what you want, but the iPod phenomenon was born out of music piracy. 1,000 songs in your pocket was the idea back in 2001, and the iPod was developed internally at the latest 2000. It was the height of music piracy, Napster was released in 1999 and everyone was using it, and there were no consequences. Here comes the iPod, 1000 songs in your pocket. Now, even if each song was purchased legally, for 99c, that's 1,000 dollars, on top of an expensive MP3 player. By the time the iPod was in it's 3rd generation, the cheapest one was 20 gigs, around 5,000 songs, and that's when it took off. No one would have expected these devices to sell based off of legal music sales, and they didn't. That's the key to the iPods success. The iPod was the best product for it's time, because of piracy. The iPhone, well, that's a success because it's such a great product.



    As far as the tablet goes, the real thing it will have to do is offer something new. If it can hold all my college books, and let me take notes on them in a digital form, every college student will get one. If it can be the perfect e-reader and email machine, it will be the perfect gift from grandparents. It's going to have to do something perfectly for the average adult too, whether it be for work of pleasure. If apple can give it a use to make it a must have for each age group, this thing will sell just like the iPhone is.
  • Reply 12 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post


    I don't know about price.



    But I am 100% certain that this device will not run Mac OS X applications. Un-modified desktop apps would have to be fooled into thinking they are running with a mouse and a keyboard. The resulting mess would be a terrible user experience.



    C.



    Damned if they do, damned if they don't.



    I totally understand your point, but I can't see myself getting Apple's slate if I have to carry it around as well as my netbook.



    That is unless it's somehow <$200 in which case it can sit at home on my coffee table as an eBook\\web browser.



    Maybe a separate slate UI that runs on OS X would be the best compromise? (i.e. think Front Row)
  • Reply 13 of 58
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post


    I totally understand your point, but I can't see myself getting Apple's slate if I have to carry it around as well as my netbook.



    For some people, there will be essential notebook features that will not be available on the tablet.

    Those folks will want to keep hold of their notebooks and netbooks.



    But I do think that for a huge number of people (many who are currently buying netbooks), what they actually need is a very different device. One that is optimised around browsing, media-playback, reading, social networking and the like.



    For these people, the netbook is less than ideal, and they would prefer a simpler, better-designed device to do those tasks.



    C.
  • Reply 14 of 58
    flounderflounder Posts: 2,674member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Masterz1337 View Post


    Believe what you want, but the iPod phenomenon was born out of music piracy. 1,000 songs in your pocket was the idea back in 2001, and the iPod was developed internally at the latest 2000. It was the height of music piracy, Napster was released in 1999 and everyone was using it, and there were no consequences. Here comes the iPod, 1000 songs in your pocket. Now, even if each song was purchased legally, for 99c, that's 1,000 dollars, on top of an expensive MP3 player. By the time the iPod was in it's 3rd generation, the cheapest one was 20 gigs, around 5,000 songs, and that's when it took off. No one would have expected these devices to sell based off of legal music sales, and they didn't. That's the key to the iPods success. The iPod was the best product for it's time, because of piracy. The iPhone, well, that's a success because it's such a great product.





    Frankly,I think you're full of crap. Many, many, many people had perfectly legal music collections of that size at that time. I was in college from 1996-2000. When I graduated, I had a little over 100 CDs, and that was probably about average (or maybe slightly below average) compared to my classmates.



    There would have been a very ready market for iPods even without piracy (although I'm sure piracy helped out). Born out of piracy, though, I think is an exaggeration.
  • Reply 15 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post


    I disagree with your premise and your facts. I simply do not recall all the doubt about the iPod. What I do recall is that the record labels were concerned about the device's being used to pirate music.



    Plenty of doubts were raised, both about the price and the fact that it was compatible only with the Mac.



    http://news.cnet.com/Apples-iPod-spu..._3-274821.html



    http://www.macworld.com/article/2037...echtarget.html



    To the subject, we should not lose track of the simple fact that Apple hasn't done anything to "hype" this product. They haven't even acknowledged that it exists. If the bar is set high due to Apple's success with the iPod and the iPhone, then I ask if the alternative is better. Would we prefer low expectations?
  • Reply 16 of 58
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,221member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post


    Plenty of doubts were raised, both about the price and the fact that it was compatible only with the Mac.



    ...



    Two articles are hardly proof of significant doubt surrounding the iPod.
  • Reply 17 of 58
    The REAL problem with the iSlate is that I want two... NOW!!
  • Reply 18 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post


    Two articles are hardly proof of significant doubt surrounding the iPod.



    I recall there being quite a bit of chatter on the subject.



    Here's one saying why he isn't buying an iPhone... #1 on his list is price

    .

    http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/hughes/14081



    and another



    http://www.forbes.com/2007/06/08/iph...partner=alerts



    Slip down towards the end.



    And another



    http://www.tgdaily.com/mobility-opin...-too-expensive



    And even research:



    http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/n...fm?NewsID=7336



    It's easy to find plenty of articles (not to mention posts here on AI) where people cite the cost as a reason not to buy the iPhone.
  • Reply 19 of 58
    icyfogicyfog Posts: 338member
    I think the Mac Touch will be awesome. I'm pretty confident about that too.
  • Reply 20 of 58
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,431moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post


    My point is (which I never got round to explaining in my previous post) - what are people doing with their netbooks?



    My guess is that 99% of users - use netbooks *as* media consumption devices only. Netbooks are remarkably good value.



    But they also consume Flash video, WMV, DivX, write simple Word documents and spreadsheets, edit photos, use chat programs like MSN, connect to printers, scanners, batch compress/rename photos for upload to bebo and FTP. The iphone OS we see on the iphone does almost none of that - you can't even use the upload buttons on the internet. The only apps you can use are the ones Apple say you can and this will likely be true of the slate unless it's a proper Mac system.



    It just cuts out too much good stuff. This is Apple's big chance to sway the PC industry over to OS X. Few people turn to OS X and go back but it's no good if they don't see the advantages and so aren't willing to pay more for a Mac in the first place. This way Apple hit a big audience and it encourages 3rd party developers to support the OS X system.



    It's like the Mac Mini but in an affordable portable machine (the $1000 Macbook doesn't qualify as affordable). For some, it's all the machine they will need. For others, it's an entry point into the Mac portables and a very capable media device.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Carniphage


    Un-modified desktop apps would have to be fooled into thinking they are running with a mouse and a keyboard. The resulting mess would be a terrible user experience.



    All OS X desktop apps recognize the built-in software keyboard in OS X and they all recognize standard clicks from a variety of devices like Wacom tablets. They are just signals that get sent to a driver. There could be a keyboard icon in the bottom left near the dock, which you tap and a semi-transparent keyboard swishes up where the dock would normally be and you just type there. Not floating as it's easier to remember key positions if it's fixed.



    The only thing they may need to do is override the interface calls for menus to make them bigger and handle scroll bars differently but it's very minor tweaking to get a very usable UI.



    Why have they made so many changes to OS X unless they planned to use them for touch:



    resolution independence

    continuous zoom in icon view up to 521 x 512

    surface IO driver in OS X

    Quicktime X like the iphone

    trackpad gestures

    Chinese character input via touch

    coverflow everywhere

    reduced footprint for lower capacity hardware

    momentum scrolling with the Magic Mouse

    the finder previews without the sliders, just a big push button



    It's all pushing towards a Mac meant to be touched.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by s.metcalf


    That's actually a pretty good point. Hell, look how fast 100,000 iPhone apps have appeared...I'm sure we could see the same thing or similar for iSlate...



    The majority are very basic apps though. I doubt many developers would put the resources in to build apps specially for the device. If it's a cut down device, the market will be smaller and the App Store users will expect competitive pricing - lower audience, higher development resources than the iphone means why not just target the iphone and forget supporting the slate. If the slate runs the software anyway, there's no incentive to make apps any better than mobile phone apps in which case the slate has no advantage over the phone besides the bigger screen.



    The iphone already has enough apps, it's time the Mac system got some. I want a finger drawing app with pressure sensing.
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