The Evidence for the Mac Tablet

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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10,893
In early 2003, the pre-expo hype of MacWorld San Francisco brought to surface many rumors of an Apple-branded Tablet.

Scattered rumors of Apple PDAs and Tablets have littered the rumor scene before, but have always fallen short.

The last official word we heard was from Steve Jobs in September 2002, when he was questioned directly about Tablet PC's. His response seemed to dismiss the likelyhood of such an Apple device: "We're not sure the tablet PC will be successful. It's turned into a notebook that you can write on. Do you want to handwrite all your e-mail? We have all the technology ourselves to do that - we just don't know whether it will be successful."

Matthew Rotenberg, however, rekindled this topic when he posted a speculative article in November 2002, feeling that Apple would likely pursue a tablet-based computer. This speculation was apparently based on more than just his own personal thoughts -- since on January 5th, 2003, he wrote an eWeek article which suggested that the Apple Tablet may make its appearance at MacWorld San Francisco:


My sources sketch the following picture: A device that superficially resembles a large iPod with an 8-inch diagonal screen, lacks a keyboard, packs USB and FireWire ports, and runs Mac OS X along with a variety of multimedia goodies.
While this did not come to pass, ThinkSecret also claimed it a possibility in their roundup (though Rothenberg and ThinkSecret historically appear to have similar sources).

Even CNet posted an item reporting that Apple was planning on introducing something portable aimed towards home entertainment... ranging from tablet to portable video pod.

A final tidbit of interest is a rumor that had come to us in late December -- well before the above articles... that Apple would be releasing a 17" Powerbook at MacWorld Expo, as well as an Apple Tablet Mac. At that time, the 17" Powerbook was dismissed as fanciful speculation... but turned out to be true, now drawing interest in the possibility that an Apple Tablet was in the works...

While it appears that only 21% of readers feel that the Apple Tablet rumors were based on truth, we feel that this consistent information from a number of typically reliable sources points towards the existence of an Apple Tablet project.
 

MrBillGates

macrumors member
Jan 29, 2003
56
0
Phoenix, AZ
My question is with the 12 inch powerbook available, why would anyone need an Apple tablet?

----------------------------------------------------

Bill Gates
 

Chisholm

macrumors regular
May 31, 2002
241
11
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
just me, but i worry about the solidness/durability of a touch screen. does Apple want to also sell little screen protecting plastic layers to cover the tablet's screen, like the film things you can protect your Palm x.x with? hate to be shallow, but an ugly screen for an Apple product? finger prints and pen marks? hhmmmm, me retreats to a corner to contemplate....


still here!
cheers!
hey! kool aid!
 

PyroTurtle

macrumors regular
Jul 27, 2001
240
0
10 Minutes from Disneyland
bring on the tablet....just give it a nice carying case like the iPod, and look like the iPod and i'll get one, or make it cooler looking....i'd love to replace my powerbook as i do have a tower and just use my powerbook for notes and stuff now...i have cargo pockets, i'm a big guy, at 8" diag it might just fit....
but it has to be widescreen! imagine a little DVD drive that plug into the firewire port...that could be fun! i'll regress to my corner and dream....already dreaming possibilities....
 

macphoria

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2002
594
0
Why tablet?

I agree with Steve's initial statement about whether tablet device would be successful. "Do you want to handwrite all your e-mail?" totally makes sense.

It is so much faster to type than to write, although being able to handwrite has some advantages, such as adding human touch, scribbling or drawing, being able to write in random locations for thought organization, etc. Still, I think efficiency is the most important issue when it comes to communication and typing is the best way to go. Even PDA devices that support handwriting recognition sell separate portable keyboards, and that's saying something about consumers' tendencies.

However, because tablet functionality is not entirely without merit, I think it would be interesting if Apple introduced a LAPTOP with screen that can be used as a tablet. Perhaps something similar to one of PC laptop that can twist its display around and be used as a tablet.

Or (it just occurred to me)

Maybe a tablet with touch screen keyboard as part of the display? But it would probably require large screen to accomodate the touch screen keyboard. I don't know. But whatever tablet device it might be, I strongly believe keyboard needs to be integrated.
 

funkywhat2

macrumors 6502a
Jul 14, 2002
669
0
Originally posted by PyroTurtle
bring on the tablet....just give it a nice carying case like the iPod, and look like the iPod and i'll get one, or make it cooler looking....i'd love to replace my powerbook as i do have a tower and just use my powerbook for notes and stuff now...i have cargo pockets, i'm a big guy, at 8" diag it might just fit....
but it has to be widescreen! imagine a little DVD drive that plug into the firewire port...that could be fun! i'll regress to my corner and dream....already dreaming possibilities....
I hear ya'! Now it also needs to cost less than $1500, with at least an 867MHz G4, and 256 MB of DDR. Now that would be really nice!

edit: However, some things would not be as nice. Low res. screens, graphics cards may be lack luster, and the GUI effects (animations and suchs, assuming that Apple used OS X, and not an adapted version) would be lesser. No dock magnifcation, if a dock at all, right?
 

pyrotoaster

macrumors 65816
Dec 28, 2002
1,004
0
Oak Park, IL
We need to broaden our horizons a bit, here.

This tablet-device will most likely have a completely different form factor than that of Table-PCs and PDAs.

Think something along the lines of iPod meets MessagePad 2000/2100.
Bigger than a PDA, with a real hard drive, but smaller than a tablet-PC. Some people refer to the Newton as the first PDA, others call it the first tablet. In actuality, it was a bit of both (although the MP100s were very PDA-ish compared to the MP2x00s and the eMate).
One of the coolest features of the later Newton devices was the ability to switch the screen from vertical to horizontal. In today's era of widescreen everything, that would be a pretty cool feature.

I also doubt that this device would run Mac OS X.
Apple would have to compromise the OS too much to make functional on a small device like this. Instead, I think we should expect an OS X-lite, perhaps with a name all its own, like the Newton OS, which many people, myself included, still think was a great system.

Also, Think Secret talked about new G3s, that have yet to materialize in anything. How much do we really know about these chips? I'm just speculating here, but what they aren't for new iBooks, but instead for a fully loaded portable device?

All I really know, is that whatever this thing is, it's the biggest thing keeping my cash away from a new iBook. The sooner the better, Apple! ;)
 

howard

macrumors 68020
Nov 18, 2002
2,017
2
it would have to cost a lot less than 1500...and its a tablet? why a large processor? all your doing is writing and stuff, not like your gonna edit video or even play games, give it a g3 to make it cheap...but ah whatever, i don't really care i would never buy one
 

stefman

macrumors regular
Jul 17, 2002
155
4
To me, a tablet would only be useful as a wireless touch screen instrument to surf the net.

Imagine sitting on the sofa and surfing and using the touch screen for the links and if there's need to input a new address or something it can be typed in with a virtual keyboard on the screen or with hand writting recongnition.

I have no use for hand writting my e-mails (my hand writting is terrible anyways) or any other docs.

That's the only tablet I would like to see come out from Apple.
 

pyrotoaster

macrumors 65816
Dec 28, 2002
1,004
0
Oak Park, IL
Originally posted by scem0
It still seems like a bad idea to me... I just don't think it will sell, unless apple can get the price down.
Originally posted by howard
it would have to cost a lot less than 1500...and its a tablet? why a large processor? all your doing is writing and stuff, not like your gonna edit video or even play games, give it a g3 to make it cheap...but ah whatever, i don't really care i would never buy one
Those are both very good reasons for Apple to proceed with caution if they try to enter the tablet market, and I'm sure those are both reasons why Steve himself isn't sure about the whole thing.

But we're talking about Apple here. We should expect something new and different, or maybe something a little retro (in computer terms, about five to seven years back), or a mix of both.
What really sucks is that we'll have to wait and see.
 

funkywhat2

macrumors 6502a
Jul 14, 2002
669
0
Originally posted by howard
it would have to cost a lot less than 1500...and its a tablet? why a large processor? all your doing is writing and stuff, not like your gonna edit video or even play games, give it a g3 to make it cheap...but ah whatever, i don't really care i would never buy one
Well, you know how you can buy a drawing tablet for editing photos, drawing, etc.? That's what I think this would be good for. But if your editing photos, then you want pro apps, for which you will want a pro processor.
 

paulie

macrumors member
Jan 14, 2003
38
0
Saskatoon, Canada
Think digital hub...

Why not an iTablet that works WITH your existing Mac, rather than AS a Mac on its own. It should further integration with other digital devices.

Leave the iTablet on your coffee table, and it acts as a photo album or picture frame. Pick it up, use it as a remote control to play your iTunes library on speakers in your living room which are wired to your Mac through an iHub in the other room. Watch videos streamed to it over 802.11g, then pause the video to receive an instant message or a telephone call.

Why use pens and virtual keyboards to write email when voice recognition is starting to reach the level where its usable?

I think that is the market where Apple's iTablet could shine, as a piece of your digital home, not just as a laptop without a keyboard.
 

PyroTurtle

macrumors regular
Jul 27, 2001
240
0
10 Minutes from Disneyland
all i ask is that the proc be ast enough so the OS doesn't lag much...
a new OS for it....that could work....
personally, i'm kinda imagining an overgrown PDA as of right now....and i expect a PDA to have an external keyboad and fully sync everthing with my tower....maybe i'm just a little weird....i love stylus' but when i'mm traveling and want to pack lite, i used to just take my palm and its keyboard so if i had anyhting i had to do i just used wordsmith....i think it could be worth it, obviously it's not for hard core anyhting really....but the iPod form caftor would make it awesome....i agree with the "use it with the mac not to replace" stratagy...a nice stereo system in the tablet....or make a hookup that lets the tablet act as a remote to existing TV's, VCR's. DVD's, Stereos....done rambling for now....
 

funkywhat2

macrumors 6502a
Jul 14, 2002
669
0
Re: Think digital hub...

Originally posted by paulie
Why not an iTablet that works WITH your existing Mac, rather than AS a Mac on its own. It should further integration with other digital devices.

Leave the iTablet on your coffee table, and it acts as a photo album or picture frame. Pick it up, use it as a remote control to play your iTunes library on speakers in your living room which are wired to your Mac through an iHub in the other room. Watch videos streamed to it over 802.11g, then pause the video to receive an instant message or a telephone call.

Why use pens and virtual keyboards to write email when voice recognition is starting to reach the level where its usable?

I think that is the market where Apple's iTablet could shine, as a piece of your digital home, not just as a laptop without a keyboard.
You mean a Smart Display? Nah, it's too, Microsoftian. Besides, those things are slow and really expensive.
 

DeusOmnis

macrumors 6502
Jul 22, 2002
258
0
Ann Arbor, MI
A tablet would be worthless, it would be less useful than a laptop. You cant make it less expensive than a laptop because all the things you would actually use it for would require processing power (photoshop, etc). Apple cant make a huge pda, because a pda needs to fit in the pocket to be useful, and confortable to use and carry. What apple will release, however, is a pda slightly larger than the current iPod. That would take off like a storm.
 

esz

macrumors newbie
Feb 20, 2003
1
0
Hooray hooray a Mac Tablet!

I draw for my living. I own a cintiq. Very very happy with the tablet technology. Not so happy with weight and cables and non-portability. How many times I imagined the fusion of my powerbook and cintiq. If there is a big PLEASE than its mine. Even if it would have an 8 inch screen.
 

jaykk

macrumors 6502a
Jan 5, 2002
854
5
CA
Mac OS X on tablet Mac means more switchers

If Apple can fit in a slimmed down version of Mac OS X, it will attract a lot of corp. users for sure. I am very saddened to see that not many people in IT field didnt even know that Mac is now Unix based, and these programers/IT people spend their day and night on Unix..So if apple can catch imagination of a few more users with a slimmed down version of OS X, we will see more switchers.
 

MacWhispers

macrumors member
Feb 3, 2003
86
0
Originally posted by backspinner
two words: vertical markets
Two words: Proprietary applications

Vertical markets with legitimate uses for narrow-focus handhelds or tablets are already using them, made mostly by Symbol or Fujitsu, respectively. This has been a steadily growing market since the early '90's, with the Epson EHT series handhelds responsible for mining hundreds of these applications, from maintenance tracking, to route delivery, to inventory, to... with a simple MS-DOS based programming environment. And, each usage, and even individual customers tend to have their own closed, proprietary, extremely focused application that runs on an equally focused "handheld."

So, in reality, the last place a highbrow Apple product would find success is in the vertical applications arena. Simple, rugged, and inexpensive are the keywords there.

The other sought-for market space, especially for the tablet PC, is the so-called "executive" market space... supposedly filled with millions of harried highly placed managers in suits, running around all day, wanting to carry around an over-sized $2,000 electronic note-taking machine. Right... For the record, if there even is such a commercially viable market space, it is already hugely a Wintel customer base. And, since a tablet will tend to be an adjunct machine to one or more Wintel PC's already owned by a customer, there is very little hope that Apple could find any substantial numbers at all in that space.

Apple knows this reality, as they are very capable of doing simple market research. So, there will not be a stripped down handheld coming from Cupertino, nor will we see a heavily bloated "tablet" of the type being promoted from Redmond.

That leaves either (A) a full-blown, OS X running mama of a handheld Mac.. or (B) a smallish, stripped down thin-client style tablet, as reasonable Mac products... as neither would bump head to head with the Wintel hegemony, or with the entrenched vertical application space. Either would tend to find its own, new, unexpected market.

I continue to get odd comments and facts from OEM and ODM sources upstream from Apple that don't fit with present products, at all, but that do (or could) fit with some new, smallish, carry around product.

I am convinced of one thing. If Apple brings either of these two sensible efforts to market, at premium but "reasonable" price points, the buyers will appear... from many, many different groups.

And, for the life of me... everything I sense from the supply channels hints at such a beast actually being in the works.
 

3G4N

macrumors regular
Jan 24, 2002
123
0
3rd star to the right
wacom

Wasn't there some speculation about Wacom's involvement here?

...A scenario something like "We don't discuss unannounced products we are working on with Apple" when no one asked them about Apple...???
 

harmless

macrumors member
Oct 17, 2001
38
11
But ...

... I don't want a tablet (I already have an iBook).

Instead I really want an Apple PDA!

Sorry, Steve. ;-)


bye. Andreas.
 

harmless

macrumors member
Oct 17, 2001
38
11
Formfactor

Originally posted by pyrotoaster
This tablet-device will most likely have a completely different form factor than that of Table-PCs and PDAs.
I don't see any useful formfactor between a Palm and an iBook.

If it's larger than a Palm, it won't fit in a pocket.

If it won't fit in a pocket, why make it smaller than an iBook, that nicely fits in a briefcase?


bye. Andreas.
 

cgmpowers

macrumors regular
Mar 21, 2002
129
0
Much more than your average tablet...

I personally would love to see a detachable screen on the iMac G4s. Imagine detaching the 15" or even the 17" and using that AS your tablet. The video display would run 802.11g wirelessly and you'd still control everything from your iMac. You could walk around the house or office and be wireless.

Sure this wouldn't be the 'on the go' pda/tablet but it'd still be very useful and definately a technology I'd want in my next iMac..

Christopher
 
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