Along with all the hype before the first iPhone was released, I added my voice, noting that it would forever change the mobile phone business in important ways. I camped in line to be among the first to get one. There was enormous hype. Yet, in the two and a half years since, more change happened than most hype predicted.
When the iPhone app store was announced, I predicted that even the most optimistic scenarios projected by analysts were likely to fall short of the mark. It seems that apps have also changed more than even the hype suggested — they were off by even more than I’d thought.
So what will become of the Tablet that Apple announces this morning? Is it possible that the hype will be exceeded only by the results?
Until I learn more about what is being released, I suspect that there will always be a larger market for devices in a phone form-factor than in tablet factor. I doubt that tablet sales can even eclipse laptop sales within the next few years. Yet, there is the possibility that this will change as much about publishing as Apple has already changed about music, mobile and apps, and that computing will be further changed in the process.
I’m not sure what to predict, except that I hope there are some surprises today beyond what I’ve listed below and others have been predicting!
Display: With all the talk Apple has been doing with print publishers (books and magazines), I hope they’ve included a fantastic high-resolution display (OLED would be great), showing off images as good or better than some magazines.
Voice: Ironically, the thing iPhone seems to do least well at is voice. One wants to shout “it’s a phone, dammit!” Since the tablet will have a much faster processor and more memory than a phone can support, it will have even more capacity to support great voice recognition and speech as alternate input and output. It might even have a larger antenna with better wireless performance so that it drops voice calls less often (whether VOIP on WiFi or carrier voice).
Keyboard: Apple’s great little bluetooth keyboard will make it easy to use the tablet to enter long text and work as a laptop replacement.
Storage: Hopefully the machine comes with enough storage and the operating system includes better support for easily building all applications to work seamlessly offline or on. Of course, we expect Apple to announce working with other carriers today as well, but with the rapid shift to mobile data, all carriers may soon have the problems we currently face with AT&T.
Apps: Hopefully Apple realizes how important it is to have a seamless experience across computer, phone and tablet. I want my data and applications to work across them as in science fiction, where I can swipe to send a screen to my other machine, or to a colleague’s. And I want the app store ecosystem to include more than just mobile so that desktop apps can be monitized as well as mobile apps. I’ve been hoping for a Mac App Store for two years.
Depending on price, features and partnerships announced today, Apple might just have a three-peat on it’s hands: extending to the iTablet (or whatever they call it) hype that is exceeded only by the reality.