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While the TechBurgh blog isn’t one to spread rumors, there rumors of an Apple Tablet device (essentially a large iPod Touch) that are spreading like wildfire throughout the Information Technology Industry, and the World as a whole.

Tablet’s have always been an interesting market to me. For a number of years, a number of companies have attempted to take the Tablet Market and make it mainstream.
Fujitsu, for example have been one of the leading manufacturers in convertible and slate tablet computers. I even had one to demo a few years ago.
There was even a Microsoft Windows XP Tablet Edition, specially designed with a few more bells and whistles for Tablet Devices (I guess all of those features are in Windows 7 now).

Though they seem to be used in certain sectors (i.e my local hospital), Tablet Computers haven’t really taken a good hold on the market. I suppose it’s a case of “there’s a time and a place” and it just hasn’t found its time or it’s place.

So, why Apple and why now?
Well, if you think about it, Apple’s iPod touch and iPhone devices are essentially Tablet computers. They’re just running a very special, focused, operating system. It’s a flat computer with a glass screen, and doesn’t use a physical keyboard or mouse.
The iPhone and iPod Touch even fit the definition of a Tablet PC!

Generically, a tablet PC refers to a laptop or slate-shaped mobile computer, equipped with a touchscreen or graphics tablet/screen hybrid to operate the computer with a stylus or digital pen, or a fingertip, instead of a keyboard or mouse.

It’s almost as though anything that Apple does becomes semi-mainstream. There is such a dedicated following of Apple fans that it’s almost like an immediate market saturation whenever a new product is launched.

Should the rumors be true, should Apple announce the Apple ‘iSlate’ on January 26th, Apple has evidently seen that the World is ready for a mobile device of this caliber.  Frankly, they have the resources and the following to make it work.

To my original question – “How would an Apple Tablet change the IT market?” – I honestly think that, if done properly (properly meaning what I think it should do) it could take the IT industry by storm and make a number of other devices essentially obsolete.

The Laptop – while maybe not fading into obsolescence altogether, an ‘iSlate’ would change the way Laptop computers are marketed and how they work in general. We’d see a lot more in the ‘pretty’ department and a lot more touch screen laptop devices.

The E-Book Reader – Personally, I’ve never really seen the point in E-Book readers, to me they’re like Black and White TVs that only play DVDs. I’d want an, all singing, all dancing, device that can do books in color and more. An ‘iSlate’ could do this.

Portable Media – while it’s nice to be able to watch movies on an iPod or iPhone, a larger screen is always good. The rumored 10 inches of an iSlate screen would be just the right size for your portable Media.

Mobility and connectivity – I’m hoping that Apple has the foresight to develop a couple of devices, similarly to the iPod Touch and iPhone. One that is always online (assuming they can find a network and a provider who can handle the load) and one that works on Wi-Fi.
Maybe if the device had an embedded Verizon Mobility chip it could be discounted because you’re signing up for service.

While I’m sure that Apple does listen carefully to my every thought, I can see a potential customer gripes already. If the device is tethered to a network (Verizon or AT&T) there’ll be an additional monthly cost for the Data plan at the very least. Otherwise customers will be able to use the internet functionality of their devices within W-Fi Hotspots.

Price – I’m only technically an Apple user. I have an iPhone and an Apple Classic.
I do believe that Apple products are pricey at best. hopefully Apple is realizing that to obtain a better hold in a market they need to price it for the masses.
If Apple can launch a suitable tablet device for less than $1,000 then I think they have a pretty good chance of making an impact, anything over that makes it another computer for the Apple fan club.

What do you think? would you buy it? what would you like to see in an iSlate?

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Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
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