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Apple Says “No” to Netbook, Quietly Nods “Yes” to Tablet?

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appletabletAs I mentioned in my post about Apple’s (s aapl) second-quarter conference call, COO Tim Cook pretty stridently denied that the company had plans to produce any kind of netbook device. Instead, he pointed customers toward the iPhone and iPod touch, saying those devices provided most of what consumers are looking for from a netbook anyway. It seemed like an outright rejection, but could it possibly have been a coy admission that some kind of tablet-type device was in the works?

Charlie Sorrel of Wired’s GadgetLab thinks so. He interprets Cook’s words during the teleconference differently, suggesting that they could leave the door open for a new entry in the iPhone/iPod touch category, with a larger screen and more similarities to a tablet computer.

It’s true that this kind of device makes more sense from the standpoint of Apple’s objections to netbooks in general. There’s no keyboard to be concerned about, battery life would be more in line with the iPhone than a notebook computer, and you have a built-in library of applications that are better suited to mobile usage than traditional PC or Mac apps.

As Sorrel points out, John Gruber of Daring Fireball also noticed that the software keyboard in iPhone OS 3.0 appears to be dynamically rescaled, or rendered independent of resolution. The iPhone and iPod touch currently only support one resolution, so the need for this must come from some other hardware source.

Taken individually, these pieces of information wouldn’t really be cause for much excitement, but taken together, they do suggest an interesting possibility. And just recently, a photo came to light that seems to strengthen the tablet-device argument even further. just posted this picture today, which was sent in by an anonymous tipster. It definitely looks like a mock-up, and could easily be a fan’s Photoshop attempt, but it resonates quite significantly with both Sorrel’s conference call takeaway and Gruber’s software keyboard discovery.

(Photo courtesy Andy on Flickr)

17 Responses to “Apple Says “No” to Netbook, Quietly Nods “Yes” to Tablet?”

  1. Gazoobee

    I think the idea of calling it “iPad” sucks.
    It sounds like a menstruation or incontinence related product more than a computer.

    The pic from is very interesting indeed an exactly what I’m hoping for, but for that reason (and a couple of others), I’m prepared to believe it’s actually fake.

    The main problem I see with that pic is the size. It depicts a device that couldn’t be any more than 5 inches wide, which if we make the screen the same aspect ratio as the iPhone would mean a 5×8 tablet. Now while in my book this would be the perfect size, the main solid rumour behind the tablet is that Apple has obtained a bunch of 10 inch screen lately.

    A 10″ screen in the right aspect ratio would be 6×9 not 5×8. For this shot to be off an Apple tablet that is using a 10″ screen it would have to be 5×10 or more.

    Also, the “dock” depicted seems unnaturally huge for no reason at all, the power cord looks thick, the light on the front is huge and garish by current Apple standards, and there is some funny white “shadow” lines at the top of the keyboard and under the power cord that make no sense at all.

  2. I would almost rob a bank go get a Mac tablet. The screen of smartphones is simply to small to work with seriously. A4/letter size would be perfect, not bigger. Thickness ~10-15 mm.
    Macbook air with touch screen! And something like Microsoft onenote software-wise (of cause better, it apple after all..).

  3. It would be quite cool if, when docked, the iSlate/iPad/Apple Slice (whatever!) would act as a secondary monitor. The dock will be USB, so the monitor function would be a no-brainer … I know it would be small, but I have a 7″ MIMO usb monitor that I use for IM. Very handy indeed. Add an overlay touch interface to control iTunes – well, the wish list goes on and on!

  4. Per Ejeklint

    Well, as I just wrote to John Gruber: There’s no need for a new mystery product to motivate a dynamically rescaling keyboard in iPhone OS 3.0. The keyboard now changes layout with input language. For example, when switching from English to Swedish, three new keys for the vowels Ã…, Ä and Ö are added and the keyboard rescales. A change in 3.0 that dramatically enhances the user experience for us with more than A-Z on our tongues. :-)

  5. I found it interesting when watching the D – All Things Digital Conference Interview with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

    When they were asked what do they see themselves carrying around in the future, Gates replied by saying that he uses a tablet and his Windows Mobile Device and that’s what he predicts in the future.

    Jobs didn’t seem to reply until they mention the MacBook Pro. He then says, ‘I carry an iPhone as well’.

    To me he looked like he wanted to say something, and looked like that he agreed with Bill Gates.

    Anyone else think the same?


  6. I like the idea of a tablet, but not as a seperate device. Rather, it would be nice to dock the iPhone to a tablet, thereby leveraging the 3g and wireless capabilities of the iPhone. Essentially you would use the tablet to expand the monitor and even charge the iPhone. Oh yeah, the tablet would need to be multi touch….