87 Comments

Summary:

Apple’s mythical tablet may soon arrive, but there’s still time to indulge in last-minute conjecture on what we can expect from Cupertino. So let’s try a thought experiment: a rundown of the ten things that would guarantee that Apple’s tablet is an enduring success.

Apple’s mythical tablet may or may not be here, but let’s indulge in last-minute conjecture on what Apple may have in store. So let’s try a thought experiment: a rundown of the 10 things that would guarantee that the tablet is an enduring success.

To begin with, I assume we all know what a tablet device is and what it does. Imagine an iPod touch with a 10-inch screen. I assume, too, that the tablet will run something similar to the touch-flavored OS at the heart of the iPhone — probably iPhone OS 4.0 (which has already been spotted in the wild).

Other lessons will be learned from the iPhone. Sleek industrial design, precious few hardware buttons and oleophobic coatings will feature in the spec sheet. So, too, will accelerometers, magnetometers and flux capacitors.

A cautionary note; despite assertions from unnamed Apple execs that we’re going to be “very surprised” by how we interact with the tablet, take it from an old cynic: It will be nothing like Apple’s 1987 Knowledge Navigator concept device (seen below). It might be similar in form factor, but I guarantee the Tablet has more in common with Apple’s venerable Newton than it does the crazily ambitious platonic paradigm that was the Navigator.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=8217311&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=ffffff&fullscreen=1

Mag+ from Bonnier on Vimeo.

So with that out of the way, let’s get started with the 10 prescriptions for guaranteed tablet success for Apple, in reverse order:

10. OLED Display
I’m sure we won’t get this, and that’s a shame. Sure, we’ll still get HD resolution with an LCD, but the battery will suffer.

9. High-Definition Prowess
HD is crucial — 720p natively, 1080p via external screen. It has to manage at least three hours of continuous HD playback on a single battery charge.

8. eMagazine Reader
E-book readers are greyscale and dull. An eMagazine Reader offers colors, animations and adventure. (Plus, you can get automatic content delivery via iTunes subscriptions.) The concept below is by Bonnier R&D.

Mag+ from Bonnier on Vimeo.

7. Ubiquitous Connectivity
Sounds fancy, but it’s just a 3G radio for connecting to the Net. For an added awesome factor, let’s do it WhisperNet style, with no monthly 3G fees. (Never gonna happen, but what a wonderful dream!)

6. Cameras
That’s right, cameras is deliberately plural. One on the back and one embedded up-front for video iChat. Anything less than 5 megapixels, by the way, is criminal.

5. Touch Media
You know what we want here — multimedia creation, editing and consumption, all touch-friendly. The retrofitted iPhone’s iPod app just won’t cut it — what we need is a touch-based iTunes. And a touch-friendly iMovie would be very welcome.

4. Multitasking
We need real background processes, Apple. No excuses this time.

3. Awesome Battery
My dream in terms of battery life would be five days between full charges. But, realistically, this being a first-generation  device, the battery will probably be weak.

2. Apps
Actually, apps are doomed. HTML5 will see to that, eventually. Until then, Apple’s tablet needs to run all the apps already in the iTunes Store. Even the fart apps.

So, from an HD screen, Internet connectivity, incredible battery life and support for software to more factors, many things are needed to make the iTablet a success. What’s the one killer feature that will guarantee Apple’s tablet huge and sustainable success?

1. Price
It comes down to this. Most sane people will not buy a tablet if they can get a notebook (or an iPod touch!) that does all the same stuff at a lower price.

Of course, Apple may have already considered these things, and there are many other aspects of the iTablet that people are hoping for. While I’m sure we won’t get even half of these wish list (though perfectly reasonable) features, when Steve Jobs eventually makes the much-anticipated tablet announcement, he may convince many people that they need a tablet. If that happens, just check this list again for a brief reality check before reaching for your credit card.

Photo courtesy of Gizmodo. Photo rendering by Jesus Diaz.

Check out related research on the iPad from GigaOM Pro.

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By Liam Cassidy

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  1. I think not calling it the ‘iPad’ would make it a hit…

    1. Lol, I was thinking the same thing!

      1. Apple goes in first place, every prduct of apple is awesome, i have found this magazine about iPad http://magazine.joomag.com/iPad/179

  2. I think that anything Apple comes out with will always be a hit.

    1. Apple TV would beg to differ.

      1. Thats’s why they didn’t name it iTV

  3. Aaron Von Gauss Tuesday, December 29, 2009

    “02. Apps Actually, apps are doomed. HTML5 will see to that, eventually. Until then, Apple’s tablet needs to run all the apps already in the iTunes store. Even the fart apps.”

    A lot of applications could be implemented as an HTML service today if you really wanted, but they aren’t, and I wouldn’t hold my breathe waiting for everything to become “HTML5″ based.

  4. Looks like I’ll have to drub my Wacom graphic tablet. I paid 1000$ !

    1. Why? I assume you mean a Cintiq or Tablet PC or Axiotron ModBook. These have resistive screens, levels of pressure sensitivity and use a stylus. Good for artists, people who outline and mindmap and people who like to write slowly. The touch screen currently in vogue are capacitive devices, having no stylus and lacking pressure sensitivity. These are good for consumers to manipulate media, send email and tweet and maybe annotate a few things. Two very different animals. Be happy with what you have.

  5. “…apps are doomed. HTML5 will see to that, eventually.”

    eventually = 12 to 18 months.

    Also,

    Why isn’t support for voice on this list? Who would cough up $1200 bucks for this thing and not be able to speak to anyone with it?

    Absolutely preposterous to expect people to walk around carrying a iPad and and iPhone.

    In fact that was the debate right here on gigaom back in 2005, we all agreed that no one would carry a mobile phone and an MP3 player.

    1. I would hope that a bluetooth headset would be able to provide call functions. Should the product hit the market, it will actually replace my iPhone with or without cell service!

      This would be the perfect business phone with SalesForce on the screen while making calls!

      1. Yep, because it’s definately pratical to talk using a 10 inch gadget you have to take out of your bag every time someone calls you…

    2. Among many reasons I invested in an iPhone, was that I assumed I would listen to music on it. I suspect that the majority are like me: Music is very low on the hierarchy of iPhone utility. My 160GB iPod Classic stays in my vehicle until it’s time to add to it. Apple knows me (us). This is why music in the cloud is the future.

  6. How about a projector screen – full size, from Microvision?
    http://www.microvision.com

  7. Not sure if this is possible yet with affordable consumer technology today, but I would love to see the camera implemented as a 5-10 megapixel hand-held lens on a retractable “snake” that connects to the iWhatever.

    This way, you can hold and point the camera with one hand, and see the video preview from the another hand holding the device.

    I just can’t picture people taking photos and videos at events by holding their tablets up in the air all the time.

    1. I am surprised that a camera manufacturer has not simply used the iPhone as a processing engine for a lens and censor in a case.

      1. Exactly. I’ve been waiting for this since the Iphone came out!

      2. This doesn’t occur for the same reasons that Detroit can’t seem to come up with leading edge technology in terms of features or power plants (alternative energy): they’ve painted themselves into a mindset and cost structure corner that is only capable of completely verticalized of product design using only their own products. This locks them into their current product design paradigm and out of innovation like you are talking about.

  8. For any iPad to be a hit, it should retain lots of moisture and not show any marks on the outside ;)

  9. html 5 isn’t going to kill apps. maybe some day, some web based tech will largely kill apps on iPhone/iPad, but it sure as hell isn’t html 5. You lose too much richness and too many features. The limited video features in HTML5 just don’t cut it. And iTunes makes it very easy to monetize your ideas, so I see little incentive from the development community.

    1. The incentive of Web apps for developers is that it gives them control over who accesses it.

      The initial advantage of the App Store was that iTunes had trained users to expect to pay but, now, there are a growing number of hacked iPhones and it has been shown, in cases where a game sends information back to the developer, that the vast majority of users of certain games have pirated it.

      The Slate will allow more advanced, more complicated and probably more expensive apps to exist, this will increase the momentum and speed at which it will be hacked. The initial advantage of the App Store (that people were willing to pay) could be overtaken and developers will find themselves back in the normal software situation, in which paid sales come from a tiny minority of users.

      Running as a Web app, however, gives the developer the option of allowing access only to unique device IDs that are tied to an actual sale or subscription. Such apps cannot be copied and distributed because the logic of the app remains on the developer’s server.

      It will be a bumpy road, not least because such an eco-system will require “always-on” Internet access, but that is the direction in which commercial software will inevitably move.

  10. Thank you for including #5 Touch Media on your list of needed features (overlaps with #8 eMagazine Reader, I think). It is the only unique feature thus far for a tablet. In particular, you are right to emphasize that touch media must allow for creation as well as consumption if the tablet is to have any longer-term staying power.

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