With sources as authoritative as the Wall Street Journal confirming the pending introduction of a tablet computer from Apple, one can assume the cat’s out of the bag for the big Apple news on January 27. But what does it mean?
I’m throwing my hat in the kill-the-small-laptop camp. The iPhone proved that people will use computing power in a portable manner and without a physical keyboard. Despite the name, the iPhone is indeed a computer, with a clever 3.5″ form factor. And people use it as such. Indeed, Ai has ecommerce clients generating sales from iPhone browsers on non-mobile-optimized websites.
Given that, why not continue to redefine the portable computing space? Steve Jobs must scoff at netbooks, with their minuscule keyboards and compromised feature sets. Better to redefine the experience with a new kind of device. Just like the iPhone has redefined pocket-sized power, so too can the tablet redefine the small-laptop market.
Apple is shooting for the personal, casual computing market, folks like me who like to get online sitting on the couch and folks like Nathan who want a three-pound computer to travel with. It will be big enough to type on and clear enough for reading, gaming and web browsing.
I bet the tablet’s pixels per inch will be impressively high, like the 160 ppi of the iPhone. Most Mac desktop and laptop displays hover around 110 ppi. An 11″ screen at 160 ppi will provide almost the same amount of pixel real estate as a 13.3″ MacBook screen does now. This will help minimize people’s perception that they’re giving up detail for size.
Yesterday I postulated to my coworkers that the 13″ MacBook is going to disappear. But now I suspect it will turn Pro a few months after the tablet comes out. Portable computing power is important, and with a tricked-out technology package, the MacBook will differentiate itself. Expect MacBooks to shift in price from $1199 and up to $1499 or higher, with the tablet coming in around the thousand-dollar mark.
Whatever it turns out to be, expect irrational and unrivaled consumer desire and interest for it, on a scale that only Apple creates. Google’s phone news is a business story: “Look at Google aiming for the smartphone market.” But Apple’s news is cultural. Which is why they may succeed in their latest attempt to change the game.