In all likelihood 2010 will be the year that tablet computers (and activities that belong on such a device) will become mainstream.
A large part of this is due the the (expected) announcement of Apple to release a large(er) factor iPhone or iPod Touch device, which has a chance of doing what the original iPod’s and iPhone did in their categories (mp3 player and smart phone) which was to cement them as must have devices and (at the same time) changed the rules they where judged on and operated by.
But even more so, even if Apple did nothing (to the howls of fan boys), there is enough activity out there that tablets and their kissing cousins (e-readers) will still become more capable, more affordable, and in many more hands.
One thing that can be learned from the Crunch Pad debacle is that almost anyone can created a tablet computer given the determination. (although maybe not well, or cheap) The Tech is out there. Tablet’s are where Netbooks where 3 years ago.
And will we do on these new devices? Browse and Read.
One thing that Tablet’s can do at least as well as Netbooks is in browsing, whether that is a local file or the net, and given the comprises involved with keyboards on a netbook, and the solutions for (small amounts) of typing in iPod/Phone and Android devices. (Bluetooth can be used to extend all of these devices to external full size keyboards and headsets)
Now Browsing and Reading are slightly different, and hence the difference in “Browsing” newspaper’s, magazines, and books as apposed to “Reading” them in print. It maybe a historical and accidental side effect of those media growing up in a era of “reading” (and also in part creating a culture of “Reading”), and is no longer necessary. Of course those media are now trying to re create “Reading” by creating devices (and software) which is only a little connected and less friendly to “Browsing”.
Non-the-less: Tablets for Reading and Browsing are here to stay.
As to what Apple will actual announcing in late January 2010 will be much watched. Here want I think they could announce (I have no inside knowledge):
- It might be called a iSlate, which fits well with the Tablet style look and feel.
- iGuide has also been suggested as a name but I wonder if that is the software part of new media reader. Also the software known as iTunes needs a new name since it has less and less to do with music (tunes) and more with other media and applications. So iGuide could be the new iTunes navigator and store, and iTunes becomes just the music player.
- The Price is going to be a big issue if this is to be a widely used device and platform. The regular price needs to be under $500 (if not 400), which means it needs to be subsided with a cellular data contract. (if only not to eat into Apple profit margins).
- They could put a forward facing camera to make it a social chat device, and different than all the other e-readers and tablets out there.
- They could do something more radical and bring out a folding device which is twice as wide as a iPod touch (4.3″ x 2.4″) which would make it 4.3″” x 4.8″ and that unfolds to 4.3″ to 9.2″ giving it a over a 10″ diagonal. They could do so using a slide fold (as done with numerous cellphone keypads, and allow you to use the smaller screen in the unfolded state), or a book like unfolding. Apple also has “iBook” as a name they are not using but still protect.
Could be very very good, although I would be worried if it is too expensive or too locked down.
Update (Jan 27th): we have an iPad!! ~9.5″ by 7.5″ for a # 9.7-inch (diagonal) 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi). WiFi and 3G; new iWorks and iBooks applications. $USD 499 for the 16Gb and WiFi only model (which looks pretty good. Must Resist Shinny Shinny). I expect we have a hit on our hands.