Why The iTablet Won’t Become “Another Footnote In The Sad, Miserable History Of Tablet Computing”

Dec 29th, 2009 | By | Category: Apple iPad, General, Internet TV, iPods & Portable Media Players, Streaming Video

Infoworld has published an article arguing that Apple’s rumored iPad will fail big time.

According to Infoworld, “to believe that Apple can somehow succeed where all others have failed is to ignore some fundamental realities of tablet computing.”

Infoworld sums up the prospects for the rumored iTablet, saying “Unless Apple pulls something truly revolutionary out of its hat, the iTablet will become yet another footnote in the sad, miserable history of tablet computing.”

That’s a pretty strong statement, especially considering the fact that Apple’s been on a roll with the “truly revolutionary” products lately.

Infoworld’s offers three reasons for thinking that an Apple iPad will be a failure. Here’s why they don’t matter:

  1. Your lap doesn’t work as a desk – true, but the iTablet is likely to be light enough to hold like a book and be equally usable on a table. It may not be as convenient for doing conventional computer tasks – but it will be ideal for doing new types of computing tasks.
  2. Typing is much faster than writing -  this is like the argument that the iPhone would be a flop because previous phones all had keyboards. A fixed hardware interface is a liability for small mobile devices, because it means that they can only excel at one task, instead of being useful for any task.
  3. Netbooks make more sense for the vast majority of users – this is true, as long as users only want to do the things that you can do on a cheap netbook. What if you want to read an interactive magazine, paint a digital picture, watch a video podcast, remix some music or play a video game? Then you find that netbooks are profoundly limited by their lack of power and their primitive interfaces.

To understand the potential of the iTablet, consider the 100,000+ apps that have been created for the iPhone. That’s 100,000+ more apps than most phones had just a few years ago.

That platform wouldn’t exist if Apple had believed the people that said that phones don’t work as computers, that you have to have a keyboard on a smart phone, or that conventional phones make more sense for most people.

The iTablet has the potential to be the ultimate tabula rasa of computing – a blank slate that can be an ereader or a video player – but also any other thing that developers can imagine.

iTablet concept image: Photo Giddy

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10 Responses to “Why The iTablet Won’t Become “Another Footnote In The Sad, Miserable History Of Tablet Computing””

  1. Rob Blatt says:

    It seems that they want the tablet to fail before getting their hands on one or even confirming the existence of one. In 2006 the Register predicted that the iPhone will fail and take the iPod business down with it. Other articles said it would never sell well at an un-subsidized price, that there were too many features packed int a small device and the lack of keyboard would make everyone hate the phone.

    Anyone who predicts failure before getting their hands on a device to use it it just creating linkbait.

  2. Voicer says:

    I agree that the introduction and testing needs to be done before you pronounce something a failure, though perhaps the thought in the reviewer’s mind is that the future belongs to e-ink type devices with touchscreens, which are easier on the eyes. Granted, that technology is a ways away yet, but that would likely kill the types of displays we now have. Overall though, I think the iTablet (if it’s real) will probably be much more than a footnote, especially considering the Apple target demographics.

  3. techpops says:

    I’m confused why you think what is essentially a large format iphone is the only format that you could read books, watch videos etc.

    My first thoughts on the iphone were it was a real game changer. So I’m not biased against Apple here. That touch screen was a brilliant move and got us away from truly terrible button arrangements.

    But when you scale it up to the size of a laptop. You’re no longer competing with terrible button arrangements. You’re competing with mouse/trackpad/keyboard and while a giant touch screen is going to be fantastic for so many different apps, it will be a step backward for others. Try playing an FPS on a touch screen for instance, have you seen how awful that can be on the iphone?

    I think its too early to tell whether software developers will really be able to propel this device into an iphone like success and i think we can all say it was those apps that really sold the iphone in the end. The hardware enabled that to happen but without the apps, the hardware is just interesting technology. Right now this tablet looks like interesting technology to me.

    If you take a look at the spec for the upcoming Google Netbook. That’s some pretty powerful hardware and an interesting paradigm shift in the OS and software. It could really change what we expect from the Netbook format. It’s interesting technology but also has a huge collection of cloud apps waiting to run on it. So for me that seems like the most attractive upcoming portable computer right now.

    So while I’m definetly not saying this is headed for a fall. In the end, I’m betting mainstream success will ride on whether programmers can really take advantage of a giant touch screen.

    • elwin says:

      The larger format seems ideal for a lot of things. Imagine browsing your digital albums on something this size, or playing something like Pong with a friend on it. Digital photos will work a lot better on a mid-size device, too. This will be perfect for social networking sites, too.

      My guess is that the emphasis of the tablet will be on new media and social media. Working with Flickr and YouTube would be a lot better on a tablet than on a netbook or an iPod touch.

      The big thing for me will be the price. People are estimating $700, but it will need to get down to $500 or so for me to get excited.

      Unless Apple pulls out just one more thing……

  4. The idea that he iSlate, if it exists, is just a ramped up iPhone is just as silly as the idea that the iSlate is just a keyboardless computer.

    As with the iPhone, Apple will release something truly revolutionary. The iPhone, the iMac, the iBook. All changed the way we looked at the products they replaced. Why anyone would think Apple would release a tablet that wasn’t different than everything that came before is the failure.

    • techpops says:

      I don’t think its silly at all. It makes perfect sense to describe it that way. It’s a portable computer with a touch screen, just like the iphone. It’ll probably run a slimmed down version of OS X as the iphone does and really the only big difference is the size. You can say that without even seeing a real tablet because there just isn’t really anything else you can do to a tablet format computer that would alter that description.

      If it sprouts legs and uses gps to walk around the house to find you and announce you’ve got mail, I’ll give it to you that it’s definetly not fair to describe it as a big iphone.

      I think you’re getting too excited about what Apple can actually do with the hardware that’s around today. Not everything they put out is revolutionary. Apple Pippin anyone? You could be forgiven for not remembering it as it died a quick death and hardly any were sold.

      • James Lewin says:

        We’ll have to wait another month to see – but if the iTablet is anything like people are expecting it to be – a larger, user-friendly multi-touch tablet computer – it’s likely to be a huge deal.

        Apple has released duds – the Mac Cube comes to mind.

        If Apple can get tablet computing right, though, it will be revolutionary, expecially compared to the relatively backword-looking example of devices like the Kindle.

        • techpops says:

          Indeed, time will tell :) I agree it has a lot of potential as an idea. Bill Gates walks around with a tablet under his arm all the time and has believed in the idea enough to throw millions of dollars in research at it. Perhaps the time just wasn’t right for that format, the technology not really being there to get them slim enough.

          The Kindle has its screen going for it, very comfortable to read, is wireless and very low power. If it had been married with a data plan to get its price down like we see with smartphones, I think it would have been an over night success. The fact the Kindle was Amazons number one best seller at Christmas says a lot about a device that’s generally considered to be too expensive.

          E-Ink tech just isn’t here yet to do a great colour computer so this tablet thing is probably going to have your basic power sucking laptop screen. Not where sure where the revolutionary bit is, it seems more evolutionary to me. In fact I would call it a refining of the idea Bill Gates has been pushing for the last decade.

  5. Christiani says:

    If ANYONE thinks that the iTablet will fail well that person needs to go back to business school for a few years. When the Iphone is selling around $860.00 in China and selling out, you think that people won’t fork up money for the iTablet???

    Let’s face it, this is building up a storm and everyone will be buzzing about it. Maybe some of you won’t buy it but it will def sell. I’m not much of a tech person but I think that having an Itablet would be kick ass!!

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