The Yet to Be Revealed Mac Tablet/Slate

We are still more than two weeks out from the Apple event that will, if the [“leak”](http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/how_apple_does_controlled_leaks/) is right and all the wonks are right, reveal to the world Apple’s vision for mobile computing. Leaving aside all the “game changing” hype and other folderol and focusing on what really matters, I thought I would add my own small voice to the din:

First, it’s going to be a tablet, and it’s going to look and feel a lot like a large iPod Touch. It may or may not have a revolutionary UI, but that is relatively meaningless compared to the functionality it will offer, which is the ability to view web pages, read book pages, and watch video at something more like an adult size. This alone makes it worth its weight and cost for many, many of us.

I don’t know why so many pundits fail to grasp this. The thing doesn’t have to be revolutionary in any other way than to make it possible to do things that have otherwise been separated, or spanned, across two devices: a laptop and a smart phone. I have a MacBook and I have an iPhone. I can still a place in my world for a tablet, if for no other reason than I am a writer and researcher and the ability to carry around a device that would let me read the myriad of texts, books and articles, on which I depend would be a real relief. I could do this on a laptop, but it doesn’t offer me the portrait view that remains the standard for reading.

If [Jim Dalrymple is right](http://www.loopinsight.com/2010/01/08/prediction-apple-to-release-two-tablets-and-other-prognostications/), and Apple offers the ability to connect a BlueTooth keyboard to the thing, then that will make this device a terrific portable computing platform. It will be, Apple’s response to the netbook revolution, without having to slug it out in the netbook price pits.

I am a fan of John Gruber in general, but I think he overcomplicates things when he asserts that there will be a [third OS](http://daringfireball.net/2009/12/the_tablet) to go with the tablet. I think he’s wrong for two reasons: (1) a third OS is unnecessary and (2) why would Apple duplicate Microsoft’s strategy of spinning off one too many versions of your OS.

A third OS is unnecessary because all the functionality this thing needs is already built into the iPhone OS. Any differences in screen size, whether for iPhone apps that can be scaled up or new iSlate apps that can’t be scaled down, can be handled by intelligence within the OS itself or by functionality within the iTunes Store to warn people that they are buying an app that runs best, or at all, on the iSlate and not on an iPhone or iPod Touch.

A third OS would also be foolish. It would require either stretching current engineering resources too thin or growing engineering. The latter prospect is not abad thing, but innovations that occur within one silo may be hard to capture across such an expanse of OSes and should, I think, be something avoided. An iDevice OS and a Mac OS are really all Apple needs. Surely the vagaries, and ghosts of Windows, Windows CE, Windows Mobile, etc. should be haunting enough, no?

I’m not a major player in this pundit business, and so my observations here will not be heard in the roar of the crowd that seems to want more than is truly desirable. (The pundit economy has payed no attention to the crash of the real economy and the greed that fueled it: their desire for attention knows no bounds.) The fact is all Apple has to do is to come up with a device that sensibly spans the gap between the iPod Touch and the MacBook and to price it somewhere in the span — my guess is closer to the MacBook (at least initially since Apple has proved itself more than happy to -soak- charge an early adopter’s tax) — and they’ll do fine. It goes without saying that they’ll need the content distribution network to support the new possibilities, but as long as Amazon plays along and offers a Kindle app that works on the iDevice, they are already part way there.

And, hey, if [John Gruber](http://daringfireball.net/) ever reads this, thanks for the site, for Markdown, and, yes, the design of this site was inspired/derived from yours.

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