There’s a lot of speculation floating around out there in the Mac blogosphere about two perennially interesting meta-machines: the mythical Apple tablet, and the lately-popular Mac netbook. Bloggers and technogeeks have been longing for Apple to release a product in either category, and signs lately appear to be trending towards a “no” for the netbook, but a “maybe” for the long-hoped-for Apple tablet.
First off is Apple prognosticator John Gruber, who recently wrote — almost as an aside — in post to his popular Daring Fireball blog:
Whatever they’re cooking up for this space, it will not be a Mac. I’m thinking iPhone OS (perhaps renamed) and a touch screen keyboard. (There must be some reason why the keyboard in iPhone OS 3.0 now appears to be rescaled dynamically i.e. rendered resolution independently.)
Gruber attached this parenthetical note-within-a-note to a link to a bit of speculation regarding Apple’s second-quarter conference call, in which Apple COO Tim Cook noted that the company saw no value at present in the netbook market segment.
While such a comment from another company might mean that the company simply isn’t interested in the netbook/tablet area, anything from the notoriously tightlipped Apple is going to get spun and speculated endlessly. The Apple Blog’s Darrell Etherington has a roundup of what’s been going around the blogosphere, including an intriguing (and probably fake) mockup of a possible tablet device.
Mac bloggers have been arriving at a rough consensus about this device: it will be based on the iPhone OS, will be bigger than the current iPhone/iPod touch, and will not have a physical keyboard. Since Apple already sells a small-sized Bluetooth keyboard, it’s within the realm of possibility that an Apple tablet would be able to pair with one to enable typing. At least, that looks like what’s going on in MacFormat_UK’s image. Of course, this summer’s iPhone update might bring the capability to pair with Bluetooth keyboards to the iPhone as well.
The phenomenal success of Apple’s App Store is another reason the company might consider expanding the iPhone OS into a tablet-type device. With an established application base, the company can expect to continue to have the sort of developer support they’d need to attract customers to such a device. The only potential downside is that, at tablet size, this supposed device loses its easy iTunes media portability features.
Apple isn’t a company to sit back and wait, so it’s likely the company is cooking up something. The success of the App Store makes it even more likely that the company will focus on the iPhone OS (or whatever they choose to call it) as the platform of the future. Time will tell, however, if the current frenzy of tablet speculation pans out, or if it will prove to be incorrect like all such speculation before it.