Both Gruber and Marco have some good pieces up regarding the Apple tablet. Both of them spill a lot of ink to basically say that no one knows what The Tablet is, does or how it works. I haven’t bothered to write anything about it other than to complain on Twitter about how stupid this whole thing is and to express my hope that the whole thing would just go away. That’s because, like Gruber and Marco, I not only have no idea what this thing would look like or be like, I also have no idea what it would have to be like in order to blow my mind.
Back in late 2006, everyone “knew” that Apple would be releasing a phone. No one knew what it would look like. At all. My own hope was that it would be a Treo mashed together with an iPod Nano, but good. (For the record, if the iPhone hadn’t happened, I would’ve been rocking a Treo 680.) The original iPhone was, in fact, very much like a Treo mashed together with a Nano, but good. The iPhone OS is very much a child of the UI conventions of Palm OS and the Newton, but wholly modern.
Its very simple for me to say that Apple should glue two very different devices together to come up with a great product. Delivering the actual iPhone was nothing of the sort. Its similarly easy for people to say that The Tablet has to be unexpected, completely new and amazing to succeed. Apple’s had more than ten years to see what doesn’t work with portable and mobile devices. They are not going to come up with a tablet PC, a giant iPod Touch or a JooJoo.
The other, more profound reason why I haven’t bothered myself too much is because I don’t have any pressing need for it. Every cellphone I had before the iPhone was a total piece of shit. My house is surrounded by wires that basically made it impossible to get a call on the street or anywhere but a single corner towards the back. Then there’s the contacts issue, and all the other stupid problems of dumbphones and pre-iPhone era smartphones. I don’t have that problem with computers. I’ve been living out of laptops since 2002. I want more power and more capability out of my portable machine, not less. I want Nehelem, USB 3, lightpeak and all the other goodies. I don’t see how Apple can impress me to the point that I’m willing to give up a next-gen MacBook Pro for a The Tablet and an iMac.
This is the simple question that no one has been able to answer yet: If I need to take my laptop bag with me anyway, why would I choose a The Tablet over a MacBook Pro? Weight is not an issue, usability is. One of the big arguments for netbooks is their small size and weight (and cost). But having used several of them, I can’t get over the less than full-sized keyboards and the tiny trackpads, especially compared to the large, multitouch pad of my current MBP and the huge one of my next MBP. People want to use tablets because all they do is use the web and consume media. I do that, but I also write. A lot. I also do coding, photography, light video, digital drawing and painting and 3D modelling and animation. That’s a lot to give up.
I might just be outside of the target for The Tablet, but somehow, I don’t think so. Whatever it is, it needs to be something that solves a problem that I and normal people have. The problem is, I don’t know what that need is. Its not that simple.