Everyone has their panties in a twist over rumours of this upcoming Apple Tablet, but has anyone actually stopped to wonder just what features would make it worthwhile? Because I can't think of any.
Think about it: the rumours are of essentially a gigantic iPod Touch with a 3G connection. It's a web tablet, right? But we live in a time where $US300 netbooks are the norm. Are people going to really be willing to part with $US800 for a gussied-up netbook with a touchscreen and Apple design?
Sure, fanboys will drop money on anything that Apple puts out, but what features are people expecting this to have to make it worth the scratch?
eBook Reader—People are saying Apple is taking aim at the Kindle with this. But this won't deliver anything that a laptop doesn't other than making it easier to hold like a book. But it still has an LCD screen, which people don't like reading books on as much as eInk or paper. And it'll definitely cost way more than the Kindle.
Web Surfing — You can do this on a netbook for a fraction of the price.
iTunes Album Art — This is little more than an added bonus, not a selling point for a piece of hardware.
Gaming — Sure, gaming on the iPhone can be annoying because your fingers get in the way. But do you know what's more annoying? Using a touchscreen for gaming in the first place. Gaming on the iPhone is annoying because it's a touchscreen, not because it's a small touchscreen.
And there are serious issues with the entire idea of a tablet platform.
Typing—How do people envision typing on this thing? Are you going to lie it flat on your desk? Flat on your lap? And how is typing going to work on a flat surface? You won't be using your thumbs like on the iPhone. There's a reason laptops are designed the way they are with the screen at an angle to the keyboard.
Apps—Is this going to run a modified version of the iPod Touch OS or a gimped version of OS X? If it's just a big iPod Touch, we're looking at apps designed for a totally different resolution and control scheme that will then be made to work on this. How is that worth it? Is there going to be a new category in the App Store for this device, making you buy your apps over again for this new format? In what way will it straddle the line between MacBook and iPod Touch?
Performance—The iPhone is not the fastest way to surf the web, but we're OK with that because it's a phone. The tablet will be closer to a laptop, and we'll expect laptop speeds out of it. No dice. It's going to have the power of a netbook, but with less space to stuff components due to its lack of a keyboard. There's no way this will perform at a high level without it costing as much as a MacBook Pro.
There's just nothing to justify what will probably be a $US700-$800 device here. Sure, it'll be slick. It looks like something from Star Trek and when it's announced, we'll all want one. The idea of lying on the couch and dicking around on the internet on a beautiful, thin slab is appealing.
But like the MacBook Air when it was first announced, after the lust wears off we'll be looking at a middle-of-the-road computer in fancy packaging that costs twice as much as comparable devices.
And the last time I checked, the economy isn't doing so hot. So really, unless Apple has an ace up their sleeve and is going to either give this some functionality we haven't thought of yet or is going to sell it for under $US500, I can't imagine the demand being all that high for it.
But hell, maybe I'm underestimating the value of design. Will this thing be sexy enough to justify spending a whole lot of money on something that, functionally speaking, won't do all that much that's special?