Rumors continue to surface that Apple is planning a tablet-like PC; the latest round comes from Smarthouse in Australia. According to the Aussies, "I was told that Apple was exploring a neat new device that is basically a touch screen that links to various source devices including a brand new media centre that Apple is planning to launch next year. The Mac tablet has been designed to handle third party applications such as home automation software that will allow users to control lighting, audio, entertainment devices and security feeds. It also acts as a full blown PC has wireless linking for a new generation of Wireless Hi Fi speakers that are currently being tested by Apple."
Regardless of the truth here, there’s an interesting approach outlined. Maybe it’s me, but the Windows based Tablet PC tends to be marketed mainly as a productivity booster, which it is. If Apple dovetails a device similar to what Smarthouse describes with their previously announced iTV entertainment device, their "tablet" could gain traction very quickly. This approach follows some of the "Tablet PC shepherding" ideas I just noted last week, such as changing the marketing and showing people how a tablet can be applied to different problems.
To some degree, the UMPC platform comes closer to what Apple’s potential tablet (as described) would be and there are a number of entertainment & home automation applications for them. If Apple does provide a device that focuses on this type of functionality, Microsoft could do well to learn a lesson here. Apple rarely defines a product market out of the gate; they wisely improve and simplify existing approaches. They did it with the iPod; will they repeat it with a Tablet PC? Bear in mind, we could be discussing a "tablet-like" remote contol here. ;)