Concept art for an Apple touch-screen Netbook. (Credit: Gizmodo)
Anybody who has been around any MacWorld or just the Mac community in general over the years, knows that there has always been a plan for a Macintosh tablet computer. There has always been an Apple plan to make computers smaller and more portable, and there has also always been an Apple plan to develop a better touch screen interface.
What Apple has always been very good at doing with these plans though, is to let third party companies develop them, watch those third party companies loose lots of money in the process and then jump into the ring themselves, when the idea is matured and the market is ripe for the taking.
In this last year the inexpensive Netbook PCs from Acer, Asus, MSI, HP and a hand full of others have taken over the impoverished PC market place, and there have been many calls for Apple to enter the fray. But as I have already mentioned, this is not Apple’s style, they will wait until there is a lull in the Netbook market place and then they will pounce with a “new” product that will make everyone else look like they were asleep in their garage, when Apple decided to leave the pit lane with their new product (just like Sony was, when Apple re-invented the portable music player).
In this particular case though everyone seems to already know what Apple is planning. Apple themselves have said many times that they are interested in the Netbook market, but they are not interested in building or selling, inexpensive and poorly constructed devices that will inevitably lead to a less than satisfactory user experience.
In one regard that could mean that Apple is waiting for all the current Netbooks to start falling apart, on the other hand it could also mean that Apple is waiting for the users to demand a higher level user experience, and simultaneously that the finacial crisis will have eased somewhat by that time, so that Apple can sell at their normal high profit margins, without anyone being too upset.
The portable all-in-one (CPU, screen and battery) is born
Which brings us to the new MacTablet family and how it will fit into our increasingly digital life-styles. Until a few days ago I did not have much faith in Apple coming up with another killer design and concept, but a lot of different elements seem to be falling in place and I think I now understand, how Apple will pull this off.
The most successful family of computers Apple has ever produces is the iMac, and the smaller the CPU housing of the iMac becomes, the more popular the iMac computer becomes. What Apple has never been able to do with the iMac though, is to make it portable, mainly because the storage, battery and low power processor technology has not yet allowed for this to happen. Not until lately that is, I think everyone has noticed that even the 17-inch MacBook Pro is now a truly portable computer, not just a transportable that had to be quickly plugged in, wherever it went.
Apple is I think at this point planning to present us with a truly portable iMac like experience, with touch screens, blue tooth input devices (keyboards, mice and hundreds of other devices already exist), and a number of screen/cpu sizes, eventually ranging from very small to very large, that can make use of all the normal iMac input devices and accessories.
What finally revealed this (possibly crazy and only in my head) plan to me is the report that Apple has been ordering quantities of different size screens (from 4-inches to 12-inches) over the last couple of years. This says to me that Apple is not planning a new Tablet version of the PowerBook, but rather a new Tablet (portable all-in-one) computer family with various models within that family (just like the iMac).
Who will buy these devices? Well right off the bat, I know it would be of interest to doctors, engineers, photographers, film makers, musicians, people who take inventories, students, etc., they will be used as AV devices in cars, airplanes, boats, etc. As a matter of fact they will make perfect control panels for almost any vehicle or device (without any hardware modification).
If they aren’t too expensive, I will probably want both a small one (for travel) and a large one (on my desk and for important meetings), and I bet a lot of people would think the same.