Or whatever it'll be called. iPad. iTablet. iNote. iScribbler. Whatever. The name's not important.
The upcoming new "sub-notebook" from Apple, rumored to be coming in January's Macworld Expo, will not, I predict, be a super-slim notebook.
It just doesn't make sense, and I've been thinking on this ever since the iPhone and the iPod touch came out; and a little common sense combined with wishful thinking, as well as a bit of like-minded thinkers in the Apple fanboy world, make me really think that we'll be looking at a revolutionary product come January. Here's why:
1) IT WON'T BE A NOTEBOOK.
I just don't see Apple introducing a super-slim, compact notebook. Who cares? I certainly don't. Apple's style is leading the industry with cutting-edge new devices that are increasingly integrating new media, making new platforms for old devices. The iPod wasn't just a souped-up MP3 player, as the iPhone wasn't just a phone with an Apple brand on it, just as Apple TV, for better or worse, isn't just a computer you hook up to your TV. They're all defining new ways of integrating media, of allowing you to get media into different forms. Sub-compact laptops already exist; Apple's not just going to make such a not-fashion-forward, not-platform-forward product.
2) IT WILL BE A 'NEXT-STEP' PRODUCT.
Related to that is the Touch interface. From iPhone to Ipod Touch, there seems to be a logical next step taken to allow Touch computing, meet the needs of the sub-compact buyer who wants an Apple computer that isn't a bulky laptop. And Microsoft already has its cool-ass Surface computer. The future is already here, and the writing's on the...screen.
3) THE TIME HAS COME FOR PRINT MEDIA TO DIE.
Or at least start to wither before eventually dying. And I'm not saying that The New York Times is going anywhere or anything, but just that we won't be killing trees anymore to read it. The new device will meet the needs of the emerging eBook/online publishing market that IS the next area of battle, as we move from primarily paper to primarily screen-based, portable, and vastly more flexible, screen-based reading. It's never been a matter of if, but of when the easy-on-the-eyes nature of reading from paper would be paralleled by a screen that can do the same. And look at Amazon's Kindle, or the ongoing online publishing revolution that is so obvious it might not be so apparent. Yes, I agree that within 5 years, most reading will not be done on paper. Amazon knows this. And so does Apple. And the first killer device that can be comfortable screen reader, as well as computer, as well as PDA, and nice size for watching videos, and can communicate seamlessly with your home computer/iPod/iPhone and detach you from being anchored to any one place in terms of content – that's gonna be killer. Download the NYT, or your local paper, or your blog, or what have you – the technologies are there, from RSS to podcasting to iTunes pay store to whatever else will pop up with a device that can put whatever you want into one place. And who already has the only tried-and-tested, fully-operational paid media delivery system? Apple. Just add more eBooks to the podcasts, movies, TV shows, and songs you can download. As Steve Jobs is surely saying: "Mo' money, mo' money, mo' money!"
4) THE PATENT APPLICATION DRAWING JUST MAKES SENSE.
I may be wrong, and Apple has a way of surprising everybody, even if it's just a little bit. But I think that's this has got to be Apple's move, looking at the way online publishing and media are going, the move into new computing interfaces, and the fact that major players are lining up along the lines of a vast new market that hasn't been tamed yet.
To me, it just seems like Apple is going to try to do in the new territory of text-based media what the iPod did for music and then video content, what the iPhone is doing to the mobile phone industry, or what Apple TV hasn't quite done much of yet in the home video realm.
This new device will do it while integrating text with pre-existing text, photo, audio, and video mediums (which a glance at any web-based newspaper, "pro blog", or online magazine will show you has already happened), while also giving you the power of a portable computer, to boot.
If Apple makes a device like that, who ain't gonna buy it? Computer, iPod, PDA, calendar, big-ass screen for watching movies/podcasts/TV on the train, and a place to read a trashy romance novels writ LARGE across the screen, or your favorite blogs, all downloaded in the morning through RSS and sitting for you on the subway ride...
That's the killer move that will focus all of Apple's power as a computer and media company into the true killer device.
Sure, I'm just being hopeful, as anyone making guesses at this stage is, but damn – would that not make a whole lotta sense?
A TRUE notebook that can do - everything. Who isn't going to sell their left kidney for that kind of integration, ease, and load off one's back? I'm sure it'll sport a pop-up keyboard onscreen, but for the diehards, I can see a huge peripherals market for mini-mice and cute keyboards, the usefulness of this device in the education market, where this will become THE new way of taking notes (and surfing the web in class), and could open up whole new doors as a device in the medical field, as a means scratchpad for artists and other creative types, and as a "base unit" of some type for people who already have iPods and iPhones, which could be used to integrate with the new device and offer a new kind of function or increased usability.
Who knows? Possibilties are endless, with a wireless and Bluetooth-enabled super-device that can be anything software can make it be.
I'd buy that for a dollar. Or 2000. Hopes are that it will be priced at somewhere in between, priced to move.
And this way, no matter what you buy it for, Apple is building new users of OS X, more subscribers to and users of the iTunes Store, and many more ways to convince more people to buy Apple stuff.
And if it can run Windoze, too – who's gonna buy a sub-notebook or Tablet PC?
Damn, Apple. Am I going to have to start being scared o' you?