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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > The Apple Tablet; or, here’s the new MacBook with previously UNKNOWN KILLER FEATURE

The Apple Tablet; or, here’s the new MacBook with previously UNKNOWN KILLER FEATURE
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rabid doug
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Aug 2, 2009, 01:32 PM
 
taken from dougbest.net/wordpress/

Even if you aren’t a rabid Apple fanboy like me, it’s been hard to ignore recent media attention swirling around the rumored Apple tablet. Described as essentially a large (10-inch diagonal screen) iPod Touch, with a launch date ranging from September to early 2010, this device is either going to be a total flop or bigger than the iPhone, the Beatles, and Jesus combined (depending on which so-called journalist you listen to).

It’s known that Apple has been exploring this form factor. A proposed device running a mobile version of Safari, internally referred to as “Safari Pad”, was judged, several years ago, to be not-ready-for-prime-time, but served as Steve Jobs’ inspiration, in shrunken form, for the iPhone. And let’s not forget, the Apple Newton of the 1990s essentially created the tablet form factor.

But therein lies the problem. The Newton, a technical marvel with devoted followers, was nonetheless a financial flop. Too costly, and with an undefined target market, it came to represent an Apple that had lost focus and discipline.

Others had similar lack of success with the tablet form factor. The nascent hand-held computing market of the ’90s seemed to split into two directions – PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) such as the Palm Pilot, and larger tablet computers, which were laptops without the keyboard, using a stylus for input. Palm, a dotcom darling, is now on life support, as the humble cellphone morphed into the smartphone and made the term “PDA” an anachronism. And tablets have been nothing but a black hole for computer makers to throw money into. It turns out a resource-hungry operating system designed for keyboard input (Windows) provides a less than satisfactory experience in tablet form.

But more important, there has simply been no compelling reason to use a tablet. Need to surf or type? Get a laptop. Need to check email or text? Get a smartphone. Need to crunch numbers or design? Go back to the office. Want to listen to music? Pull out your iPod.

But it turns out the tablet computing market was stealthily redefined with its first smash hit product a couple years ago, and nobody realized it. The first wildly successful tablet computer, with a powerful, robust operating system designed specifically for tablet computing and touch input, was the iPhone, of course. And it was followed closely by the iPod Touch.

Since the introduction of the iPhone, Palm, Nokia, Samsung, RIM, HTC and others have had multiple failures in their attempts to create a touch-based smartphone to even compete with the iPhone. Apple, meanwhile, is about to supersede themselves again with the introduction of their tablet.

Let’s take a moment to discuss where this tablet fits in Apple’s product lineup. Recently Apple has populated its MacBook Pro lineup with a 13″ inch model and lower prices, leaving the old, now cannabalized, plastic MacBook to languish in neglect. Clearly, the moniker “MacBook” is about to be up for grabs, and the new tablet will indeed be called the MacBook, and the plastic laptop laid to rest.

The price point for the new MacBook is a matter of much speculation. $399 or below seems very unlikely as it competes too closely with the iPod Touch, but some pundits feel it’s necessary to compete with the netbook market, which they argue the new MacBook was designed to faceoff against. A MacBook with 3G, and a subsidized price achieved by a two-year carrier contract, brings this into the realm of possibility. But I judge this scenario unlikely. There is a significant audience interested in a tablet MacBook without 3G, and Apple has probably judged, rightly so, that people will simply pay more for a tablet MacBook.

So, let’s speculate on a $499 - $699 price range. This still leaves a hole in Apple’s lineup between the $699 MacBook and $1199 MacBook Pro. This gap is soon to be filled be a refreshed and repositioned MacBook Air.

When the MacBook Air debuted in January, 2008, the netbook market and terminology itself was brand new, having emerged in fall 2007 with the tiny Asustek Eee PC, priced starting at $199. Clearly, when the MacBook Air was being developed, the fruition of the netbook market was not accurately foreseen, and paying a premium for a lightweight, thin, ultra-portable laptop still seemed reasonable. And to a degree, it was - the MacBook Air sold well and received positive reviews. Unlike a typical netbook, there were little or no performance or usability compromises - it had adequate horsepower, a fantastic keyboard, bright, crisp display, incredible design, and was of sturdy manufacture. But its sales have slacked as Apple has failed to refresh it, and despite price drops, it remains, for now, a bench-warmer.

Let us imagine a new MacBook Air. Flash drive only, as the component cost of SSDs has dropped precipitously. With an 11″ or 12″ screen and even thinner enclosure it will be even lighter and more portable, and sufficiently differentiated from the 13″ MacBook Pro. Technical specs will otherwise be low-end, enabling a $799 - $999 price point.

Still not a competitor with a $299 netbook, you say? Listen, Apple is not interested in competing in the $299 netbook market. Those products are of poor quality and performance with razor-thin profit margins, and appeal to consumers who target price only. This is not where Apple competes. There is not only no advantage for Apple to enter the $299 netbook market; there is no demand.

So we return to the new, tablet MacBook. Rather than launch a tablet as simply a hardware product and hope it succeeds, Apple has certainly developed a new, “killer” feature for this tablet. Perhaps more than one. I shall elaborate.

Industry insiders have revealed that Apple and the music labels have been in discussions to develop a new, digital album format for iTunes only. When you purchase the whole album, it includes an interactive, multimedia “booklet” with lyrics, artist interviews, music videos, GarageBand tracks, and more. This addresses the labels’ and artists’ complaints that iTunes has killed the album format. Never mind that the music industry devolved to a “singles” format long ago, and an entire album of worthwhile songs is difficult to find.

Movies, also, will now come with extras, bonus features, commentary, and more.

The perfect medium for digesting all this new media? The MacBook, of course.

The new MacBook is NOT going to be launched as a specific e-book reader. Such apps for the iPhone already exist, and no doubt will for the new MacBook. But this is not a “killer feature”. As Steve Jobs noted some time ago, “people don’t read anymore”.
At least, not books. I am now going to share a previously unknown “killer feature” of the new MacBook.

Magazines. Digital magazines. Subscribe or buy single issues through iTunes. Much more than just HTML or PDFs, these will also use the “interactive digital booklet” format Apple has invented. This format supports excellent design and graphic features, hyperlinks, animation and video, live updates and much more.

This will revolutionize the publication industry. The cost of printing and distribution will disappear. An entirely new revenue stream for advertising will be invented. The iTunes Store will offer increased visibility and a great marketing opportunity. Content-rich publications will be available as you sit in the doctor’s office or on the beach.

Similar to the manner in which the combination of podcasts and iTunes allowed anyone to broadcast to an audience of millions for what could be no cost at all, the periodical publishing world will now be open to all comers. If you have the chutzpah and the chops, you, too, can soon be a magazine publisher.

You heard it from me first.

Oh Yeah. And New Mac Pros, Too.

SIX YEARS!!!!! SIX LONG, GRIEVOUS, WAITING YEARS!!!

That’s how long its been since Apple’s tower enclosure has been redesigned. To put that in perspective, that’s when iMacs came with a 15″ screen on an aluminum arm attached to a semi-spherical base. And iPods, available in white only, maxed out at 30GB and did not yet have color screens or the clickwheel. The iBook still featured a G3 processor, and the Mac Mini and Apple TV were not yet even sparkles in Steve Jobs’ eyes.

In technology terms, 6 years is an Ice Age ago. But the Mac Pro is scarcely talked about. It is a beast of a machine with a dedicated following and strong sales in the graphics market. Apple has regularly updated its specs, which are impressive. It has a premium price and a premium profit. The enclosure, I suppose, still looks great. It’s unique and formidable. And large. Very large.

Apple is about to address all of that, with a new enclosure for the Mac Pro. It’s going to be smaller in every dimension. Optical drives, whose width had limited how narrow the Mac Pro could be, have been turned to a vertical orientation, so even with two SuperDrives it is substantially narrower across the front. They are slot-loading, like MacBook Pros. The beveled theme of the MacBook Pros has been incorporated, along with the black-accents-on-silver theme. In fact, an all-black, aluminum enclosure is being considered. Compared to current dimensions of 20″ high x 8″ wide x 19″ deep, look for something less then 5″ wide and a height and depth of apprx. 16″.

It’s possible some of this reduction comes at the expense of full-length PCI slots and drive bays, and that this new enclosure represents something the pundits have been clamoring for for years - an affordable, mid-level tower. For someone not interested in a portable, but who needs more than an iMac without dropping $2500 at minimum on a tower, this would be the Holy Grail.

Starting at perhaps $1799 it may increase sales of desktops without eating into sales of iMacs. The likely target of this model/price point, however, is the graphic professional - big design studios that buy dozens of these at a time, but have been hit hard by the recession and have put new technology purchases on hold, long-term. Their spending habits and technology budgets have changed, for the long haul, and spending $3,000-$4,000 per new workstation is not feasible anymore. Apple needs to get these customers spending again and investing in new Apple technology. They believe a new Mac Pro with lower entry level is the way to do it.

If the size reduction was, in fact, achieved by a purging of slots and bays, then the Mac Pro is almost certain to be split into TWO form factors: the new, smaller enclosure, and an enclosure of similar size to today’s, with all the slots and bays, but cosmetically redesigned as well.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Aug 2, 2009, 03:36 PM
 
I stopped reading at a barrage of nonsense containing the phrase "repositioned MacBook Air" and "$699 MacBook".
     
rabid doug  (op)
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Aug 2, 2009, 03:54 PM
 
The MacBook Air has not been upgraded in eons, and refurbished models sell for as little as $999 - any moron could tell from a mile away the MacBook Air is no longer relevant in its current positioning/price, and is due to be shuffled in the lineup.

And since the iPod touch currently maxes out at $399, $699 is an incredibly appropriate price point. In fact, it is the only gaping price point hole in Apple's lineup. It may, like the iPhone, debut at a slightly higher price, but will quickly adjust downward.
     
turtle777
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Aug 2, 2009, 04:16 PM
 
I think we need a "Apple Tablet Speculation Lounge" forum.

-t
     
0157988944
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Aug 2, 2009, 04:45 PM
 
The iBook still featured a G3 processor, and the Mac Mini and Apple TV were not yet even sparkles in Steve Jobs’ eyes.
You underestimate the forward thinking of the Steve.
     
turtle777
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Aug 2, 2009, 04:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by rabid *doug* View Post
taken from dougbest.net/wordpress/
I feel spammed. Are you gonna post your blog entries in multiple forums ?

-t
     
besson3c
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Aug 2, 2009, 05:07 PM
 
such a charmer you are, turtle777... If you feel spammed, why add it to? Just move on... We read stuff here all the time that we don't care to, it's part of what comes with being on forums. It takes you more time to complain about it than it does to move on. Moreover, it makes baby Jesus (and me) cry to see people being so rude to others who may have had the best of intentions.
     
turtle777
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Aug 2, 2009, 05:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
such a charmer you are, turtle777... If you feel spammed, why add it to? Just move on... We read stuff here all the time that we don't care to, it's part of what comes with being on forums. It takes you more time to complain about it than it does to move on. Moreover, it makes baby Jesus (and me) cry to see people being so rude to others who may have had the best of intentions.
Have you not noticed the recent increase of people posting their blog contents and links here ?

Maybe you haven't, because some where banned ASAP.

-t
     
ghporter
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Aug 2, 2009, 05:44 PM
 
It is the policy of the MacNN Forums that lengthy quotes (whether "quoted" using BB tags or simply copied verbatim) be avoided at all costs. Linking to the source with short, relevant quotes is acceptable. Please read the General Forum Rules thoroughly and carefully.

However, linking to one's own blog simply to increase blog traffic gets one banned in a hurry. I hope you understand this, Doug-many people actually use their blogs only to generate income through advertiser hits, and unless someone posting from their own blog demonstrates that this is a VERY seldom practice AND that such posts are both interesting to the general membership and appropriate, they are seen by our membership as spamming their blog. We don't allow spam at all.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
rabid doug  (op)
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Aug 2, 2009, 06:08 PM
 
If you check my website and blog you will see it does not get traffic and I do not get income from it. I am a freelance graphic designer in Cincinnati, and I work exclusively for local design studios. I originally sent this epistle out as an email to friends, who have come to expect such things from me. I put "taken from dougbest.net/wordpress/" at top so they would know they could go to my blog and leave a flame if they wanted, and then just copied and pasted from there. Please remove that part by all means! I am sitting on the couch right now with the kids watching Scooby Doo on Cartoon Network and trying to figure out what we're going to have for dinner - I have no secret agenda! Just trying to have fun and get a lively discussion going!
     
besson3c
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Aug 2, 2009, 06:23 PM
 
Which Scooby Doo episode?
     
rabid doug  (op)
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Aug 2, 2009, 06:25 PM
 
There's an "ape-man" and they are on an old movie set - have not been giving it my full attention
     
rabid doug  (op)
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Aug 2, 2009, 06:25 PM
 
Fred and Daphne, of course, got "lost" together, as usual.
     
besson3c
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Aug 2, 2009, 06:26 PM
 
That doesn't really narrow it down much... What season?
     
rabid doug  (op)
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Aug 2, 2009, 06:28 PM
 
way beyond my knowledgebase! They just came out of a cave/tunnel to find the campers/dressing rooms for the actors in the movies
     
besson3c
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Aug 2, 2009, 06:29 PM
 
Well, if their van looks really tall then you're looking at season 1 or 2. If the van is a little less tall, it is a later season. Please keep posting the episode synopsis and perhaps we can help figure this out...
     
lpkmckenna
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Aug 2, 2009, 06:30 PM
 
I keep thinking Apple is gonna develop an iMac with a touch screen and battery, so you can remove it from the stand and use it as a tablet. Who knows?
     
besson3c
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Aug 2, 2009, 06:32 PM
 
Who really gets excited about this stuff though, other than super gadget geeks? Can you really seeing something like this becoming a mainstream product? Maybe Apple will experiment with something like this ala the Macbook Air, AppleTV, G4 Cube, eMac, Mac Mini, OS X Server, etc. but it's hard to imagine something like this really hitting it big.
     
anthology123
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Aug 3, 2009, 03:55 AM
 
The Tower discussion has been beaten to death. If Apple brings out a slim tower to fill in that middle workstation market, the same people who want this price point will simply complain about it. Not enough memory, slots, not enough PCIexpress slots, I need to hook up 5 monitors, why can't it do that. There isn't enough space to put 8 hard drives in here, I want to upgrade the CPU. Essentially people here want a lower priced tower, but they want it to do everything a full tower does. Apple is not likely to go down that road (but they do surprise us from time to time). Also, it is pretty clear the desktop is becoming yesterday's technology which Apple does not like to do. Things like no FM in an iPod, FW400 phased out of laptops, all LCDs are widescreen, no more PC card slots, no more modems, etc. The tower is to get new technology out there until they can fashion it into a smaller form factor and sell you that. If Apple makes a tablet, it will be all touch control, none of this stylus nonsense. Will people be willing to accept a 10" device with an onscreen keyboard? Oh yes, hard keyboards are also yesterdays technology. Expect on-screen keyboard only on such a new device. Oh you can use a bluetooth keyboard, but now that's two devices you have to lug around, you can bet that Apple has come up with all these scenarios which will help them determine whether or not they can make a profit on such a device. Of course, everything will have to go through iTunes, no more out of box applications, also an outdated method of sale.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Aug 3, 2009, 04:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
I keep thinking Apple is gonna develop an iMac with a touch screen and battery, so you can remove it from the stand and use it as a tablet. Who knows?
It turns out that a touchscreen iMac á la that HP thing us the most uselessly expensive proposition you can make.

You cannot work precision gestures such as pointer positioning with horiOntally outstretched arms for more than a few minutes. Your arms will succumb to fatigue and ache like crazy.

This is probably why in that aforementioned HP box, the touch interface isn't actually used for anything that isn't easily handled by Apple's Front Row and the accompanying six- button remote.
     
lpkmckenna
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Aug 4, 2009, 05:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
It turns out that a touchscreen iMac á la that HP thing us the most uselessly expensive proposition you can make.

You cannot work precision gestures such as pointer positioning with horiOntally outstretched arms for more than a few minutes. Your arms will succumb to fatigue and ache like crazy.

This is probably why in that aforementioned HP box, the touch interface isn't actually used for anything that isn't easily handled by Apple's Front Row and the accompanying six- button remote.
The touch screen isn't to replace the keyboard and mouse. When the computing is in the stand, you would use kb+m like normal. But if you want to, you can take the computer outta the stand to use like a tablet / book reader / touch gaming / whatever.

I'm not sure this idea is worth anything. Tablets have been a market failure for years. How can Apple make them sell?
     
imitchellg5
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Aug 4, 2009, 07:12 PM
 
OP: Listen to Apple's quarterly conference calls.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Aug 4, 2009, 07:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
The touch screen isn't to replace the keyboard and mouse. When the computing is in the stand, you would use kb+m like normal. But if you want to, you can take the computer outta the stand to use like a tablet / book reader / touch gaming / whatever.

I'm not sure this idea is worth anything. Tablets have been a market failure for years. How can Apple make them sell?
The only way is to completely ignore what the others have been trying to market them as, and to sell them as an ADDITION rather than a REPLACEMENT.

I can see Home Media Controller, but not at $700. It would have to offer something *immensely* compelling, and I can't for the life of me imagine what that would be.

OTOH, Apple's talent has been creating stuff nobody could imagine wanting and making it fly off the shelves.

I would *love* a multi-touch controller for studio audio, but I'd have no use for an underpowered computer that offers nothing but.
     
turtle777
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Aug 4, 2009, 08:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
The only way is to completely ignore what the others have been trying to market them as, and to sell them as an ADDITION rather than a REPLACEMENT.
Exactly.

If Apple wants to make a successful tablet, they need to redefine the market like they did with the iPod. It's gotta be more than just a better crappy tablet.

-t
     
scattered
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Aug 10, 2009, 01:02 PM
 
A laptop or tablet with built-in 3G capability would be pretty killer
     
ort888
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Aug 10, 2009, 01:32 PM
 
My only prediction is that it costs twice as much as people would think is a reasonable price.
( Last edited by ort888; Aug 10, 2009 at 01:38 PM. )

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