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Summary:

A few months back, I gave up on posting all of the various Apple Tablet rumors. There were just too many and to be honest, I was simply tired — after all, these rumors have run rampant for years. Now that I’ve caught my breath and […]

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A few months back, I gave up on posting all of the various Apple Tablet rumors. There were just too many and to be honest, I was simply tired — after all, these rumors have run rampant for years. Now that I’ve caught my breath and also because it’s a foregone conclusion that Apple will indeed announce a tablet device later today, I figured I’d gather my thoughts and put my odds-making skills to the test. Some of these are no-brainer, even-money “bets” but a there’s a few long shots in the mix.

The Apple Tablet will run on a new version iPhone OS (1 – 1) — If you were expecting a slate running the full Mac OS X desktop user interface, I think you’ll be disappointed. Apple has taken what they need for mobile devices from the OS X kernel and created the iPhone OS for that. Assuming the tablet isn’t geared primarily towards productivity, an upgraded iPhone environment is better suited to a slate. And this of course will allow for the existing software ecosystem to expand — perhaps with little to no modification by developers of iPhone apps.

The screen size will be 10″ with a resolution of 1280 x 800 (3 – 2) — Another relatively safe bet although the device could be slightly smaller, or even come in different sizes, with different price tags to match. There’s an off-chance that the tablet runs a lower resolution, but Apple prides itself on its display capabilities. On a 10″ device, this resolution will look fantastic and since I expect it geared towards content consumption, it’s all about the display.

Expect a price point around $700 with 3G contract (3 – 2) — I think Apple would be hard pressed to sell a device of this size and scope without some type of 3G radio. Wi-Fi is a given and will be used around the home. In fact, I think this device will be used more around the house then out and about — however, it will need 3G on the run. The price point fits a gap in Apple’s product line as well. This is a complementary product, not a replacement product.

AT&T will offer iPhone tethering for the new device only (15 – 1) — OK, this is a long shot, but I’m thinking that Apple could “pair” an unsubsidized slate tablet with the iPhone for 3G connectivity. Say $40 a month and Apple gets a cut of that data revenue stream. In this case, there could be a Wi-Fi-only slate that would appeal to iPhone customers and ensure that Apple has folks using two of their devices together.

Verizon will provide connectivity for the slate — and new iPhones (4 – 1) — This is more likely scenario than the iPhone tethering possibility. Apple is leaving money on the table here in the U.S. by not offering a CDMA iPhone. I still question the strategy of offering one, but it’s possible that summer sees an iPhone for Verizon that includes an LTE radio with 3G fallback. Same with the slate — if not the first version, then perhaps the second iteration.

The Apple Tablet will not offer handwriting recognition (5 – 1) — This will dismay many longtime Tablet PC owners, but Apple won’t tread the same path at Microsoft on this one. Input through touch, voice and gestures will be the primary methods because handwriting recognition takes good software (which Apple surely has), but more importantly — powerful hardware, i.e.: x86 architecture. That leads me to what’s inside the slate.

An ARM processor will power the tablet (3 – 2) – I mentioned before that the perfect storm is here for ARM computing in the mobile space. Apple will have designed their own chip with help from others (as well as their P.A. Semi team) and bypassed Intel for the tablet. I don’t see Apple porting the iPhone OS to x86 unless they have some virtual machine or other tech that will help support the existing iPhone apps. We could see a Cortex A9 dual-core CPU at 1.5 GHz or greater.

Battery life will be in the all-day range, depending on usage (5 – 2) — Having a lower powered ARM CPU can help, but I expect we’ll hear about some tweaked battery technology as well. You’ll be able to watch at least two full length movies if not three. Web surfing will be all day and audio listening will be in the 15 to 20 hour range if you turn the display off.

Gaming will be a huge play (4 – 1) — Nintendo and Sony should be worried after today. I anticipate the tablet to be heavily marketed as a portable gaming device as well as a media consumption slate. The display paired with connectivity and a solid CPU will take the gaming experience to a new level.

E-book content will be a key factor (3 – 2) — Although Steve Jobs previously felt that people don’t read anymore, there’s too much data to refute that thought. Apple wants a piece of the e-book and digital periodical pie, so there will be several content partners involved in today’s announcement.

You’ll be able to stream iTunes and AppleTV content to the slate, possibly from the cloud (8 – 1) — Another long shot, but I see this device as both a web tablet and a mobile media powerhouse. Anything that can extend the iTunes ecosystem is money in the bank for Apple, so this device should do just that.

Those are my basic thoughts on the device and of course, there are plenty of rumors to support — or refute — what I’ve outlined. So place your bets and leave your comments and thoughts. You have just a few short hours until the gate opens and the race begins!

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  1. Well done Kevin “The Greek” Tofel!

    1. Thanks Tax Man. The best part is getting to change hats and play “Monday Morning Quarterback” this afternoon or tomorrow. ;)

  2. No OSX and no handwriting input will make me quite disappointed.

  3. I’m not a tech wizard, but from previous JKR posts, the iPhone OS doesn’t support multitasking, right? And that’s a disappointment to me. Besides the inking….

    1. The iPhone OS does support multitasking, but it’s currently limited to specific native applications. That’s why you can listen to music and check email for example. This raises a good point that I missed in my oddsmaking. Odds are near certain that multitasking will be expanded beyond native Apple titles.

  4. I may just get my Newton 100 out and charge it up just so it can feel the love

  5. If the tablet doesn’t have voice capability, I would love to see the same 3G connectivity model as the Kindle. I would buy it and use the Google Voice app. I can’t imagine that people would want to sign another 2-year contract AND pay $35+/month in additional connection charges. It would be too much for students.

  6. I strongly disagree with the NO Handwriting Recognition. They have been a leader in HR (the Newton was excellent at it) for years. The surprise may be how you handwrite, possibly WITHOUT actually touching the device with your fingers. They have many patents on finger/gesture input methods.

    Agree with most of your other predictions. I really hope this device has enough graphics power to do semi-serious gaming.

    What about a FRONT FACING CAMERA ? Want.

    1. Oh MAN I am getting SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS.

      TWO HOURS TO GO !!!

      We are having a “Latest Creation” party at the Office. This will be fun. :-)

    2. ‘They have been a leader in HR (the Newton was excellent at it) for years.’

      Not since OS X was released I’m afraid.

      Their current handwriting technology ‘Ink’ is barely usable. Vista’s on the other hand is very good and Windows 7 has advanced it again.

      Even our most avid Mac users that have used Windows 7 on a tablet agree that Apple’s is about the same as the one is XP, so unless they’ve been keeping it out of OS X they’re about 10 years behind Microsoft now.

  7. The tension is unbearable. When I close my eyes all I can see are vivid colors of paint and floating bright 3D apples (like hot air ballons)…no rainbows or unicorns yet…very cool. No drugs, this is pure Apple Effect, natural intoxicating excitment to the max. Can they make this tablet available IMMEDIATELY ?

    Still checking the Apple Store for any new products…

    :-P

    1. First and last friendly warning. Please stop leaving “hype” comments under different personas like iWoz, SPJ, JohnnyA, Brutus Beefcake and many others. We value this community tremendously, but without transparency, that value decreases for all. Thanks!

  8. I could live with all of this, except for the price point. $700 with contract probably means $900-1000 without, and I have neither a need nor a desire to sign up for a monthly 3G contract, no matter which provider it’s with. I’m still waiting anxiously to see what Apple will do, but I expect that I’ll be ordering an eDGe before the week is out. Hopefully Apple will come to its senses in the next couple of years and price a tablet to the prevailing market, rather than what it thinks it should be getting for it, at which point I could consider an upgrade.

  9. I don’t think the on contract price can be the one that fills their current gap, it has to be $700-750 sans contract. I don’t think a $900 or more tablet that doesn’t replace a laptop is a realistic proposition for the vast majority of buyers.

    1. I absolutely agree !

      I can only speak for myself but I have no interest in having another data plan.

      As much as this device is very intriguing to me, if I can’t get one for ~700 without any subsidy, that will be a deal breaker for me.

  10. I agree with all of it except the price point on 3g. As someone who has an iPhone I will not be paying for another service. I can’t imagine I am alone in this so Apple will have to keep the price down below the laptop line unsubsidized. I would say you are talking $500 subsidized and $800 unsubsidized. I would really like to see the iPhone tablet connection for data on the go though.

  11. This is going to be the greatest thing since the last greatest thing.

    1. Agreed, but unfortunately not as good as the next greatest thing.

  12. Great prediction and analysis, Kevin. I think you got almost everything right.

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