Monday, June 17, 2024

The Apple Tablet Won’t Fly

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I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m just not sure Apple (or any company, for that matter) can pull it off.

The hype surrounding Apple’s new tablet is exciting to those who want more than a basic tablet computer. They say that it can revolutionize the computing business. They say that it will be one of the most compelling computers released in recent history. They say it will be a major step forward for the industry.

Forgive me for speaking out of turn (after all, Apple hasn’t even said if this thing exists), but it seems to me that an Apple tablet is nothing more than an oversized iPhone. It will have the same basic touch-screen functions. It will undoubtedly feature access to the App Store. And the entire front of the device will be dominated by a vibrant touch screen. To me, that sounds an awful lot like the iPhone.

One of the biggest issues tablet computers have faced in the past is that they simply don’t provide the kind of raw computing power their more traditional counterparts do. They also reduce productivity because it takes so long to get work done on them. What makes us think that the Apple tablet will be any different?

There’s no debating that Apple has historically done a fine job of designing products that take the industry by storm. And there’s probably no way that its Apple tablet won’t impress consumers and start up that hype machine. But that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily boast the features or the experience that would make users want to ditch their iMacs or their MacBooks for the new device.

Apple faces a major problem with its tablet — it might not work as a full-sized product. The iPhone works as a fully touch-screen device because it’s small and can easily fit into a pocket. It makes sense for a product of that size. But does it really make sense for a product that is designed to, in some way, supplant existing notebooks?

Trying to decide whether or not there really is room for a device that will feature an 8- to 10-inch touch screen, probably a modified Mac OS X installation, and the capability to download applications from Apple’s App Store isn’t so easy. On one side, users can make the point that it fits well between their full-sized notebooks and their iPhones. On the other hand, users can make a convincing point that the iPhone works quite well, it allows users to make phone calls, and the tablet won’t provide the kind of required productivity to replace the notebook. In other words, it’s a hard sell.

Say what you will about the iPhone, its value to consumers and how well it performs at being just a little bit more than a smartphone. I would buy that argument. But to say that an Apple tablet that amounts to an oversized iPhone without the phone can somehow revolutionize the tech industry is far less compelling to me.

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