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No threats to the Apple tablet in sight



500x_apple-tablet-natgeoAs impressive as some of the devices shown at CES were, it was clear to me, if Apple does announce a tablet as expected, they won’t have to worry about competition for a while. It wasn’t just that Dell and HP were showing nameless, possibly vaporous prototypes (Dell wouldn’t even commit to theirs ever being released), but even the actual devices that looked good, like the ICD Ultra and Lenovo U1, lacked interfaces compelling enough to reel in the users.

Think back to the original iPhone launch. The processor and memory weren’t what people were clamoring about. It was the multi-touch, the accelerometer, the way you interact with the device. And what happened after that? Suddenly multi-touch and accelerometers became required handheld features and everyone learned what a compelling interface looks like. Love it or hate it, there’s no disputing that the iPhone spurred innovation in the way we use our handheld and led to the creation of Android and WebOS.

By contrast, looking at the tablets at CES, I see slick devices but no intriguing, fascinating ways to interact with them. Yes, HD video looks great on the various slates and they are certainly usable, but was anyone bragging about their great new interface? Did anyone introduce a tablet with a revolutionary new method of interaction? Sadly no. This leaves open a huge opportunity for Apple to step in and show us once again how the UI done. There’s no guarantee they won’t fail in that attempt, but at least they’ll make that attempt… if they make a tablet.



  1. Keith Swanson

    01/13/2010 at 9:57 pm

    How can anyone be a threat to an Apple Tablet that hasn’t even shown up yet? Why don’t we wait until the thing is announced and shown before we throw rocks at everyone else.

    How much more can they do? Unless it something like we saw in the movie avatar I don’t think it will be revolutionary.

  2. GoodThings2Life

    01/13/2010 at 10:30 pm

    Based on the rumors flying this morning, it doesn’t sound like the iSlate is going to be much more than a hyper-sized iPhone… that’s hardly what I’d call revolutionary. I’ll reserve judgment for the announcement, but I’ve never been impressed by Apple despite their popularity these days.

  3. Fleon

    01/13/2010 at 10:34 pm

    From the more “reliable” rumors, I’m not at all interested in the Apple tablet.

    Unless it runs a real OS (not an iPhone variant) it’s a gimmick. Unless it has pen input, what do I really need it for? I had touch on my last tablet, never used it. I’d rather have a keyboard for entry, pen for art/meetings/graphs.

    I have yet to see what I would use the Apple tablet for. From the tablet support I’ve seen in OSX, they have have a long way to go on integration, handwriting, and usability. Especially in the kludgy release that is Snow Leopard.

    That being said, I was expecting more out of CES. No Courier, no new designs, no great price-points. I think Windows is a good step above OSX as far as tablet integration, but it would be nice to see better focus. Office 2010’s complete ignorance/apathy toward tablet’s is a great example of how badly MS is flubbing the format.

  4. AmbiDextrose

    01/13/2010 at 10:51 pm

    But how can you change Word or Excel or Powerpoint to be more ‘tablet’-oriented?

    IMHO, Microsoft should be promoting OneNote like there’s no tomorrow. I mean Balmer should have had a Lenovo X200T or HP 2730p during his keynote and showed the crowd what you can do with OneNote on Win7 on current-generation hardware. There are already applications that can create clean, professional-looking charts, graphs, and graphics from simple ink scribbles.

    Microsoft already has an application catalog for tablets- why are they not touting this?

    And lastly, there is the matter of the interface. As Sumocat stated, it is the iPhone’s interface (and the resulting user experience) that is it’s main selling point (outside of the application store). Although Win7 is a very capable OS, it still looks like a desktop O/S and not optimized for tablet/inking.

  5. Sumocat

    01/14/2010 at 5:48 am

    Keith, I think you’ve asked the critical question and one I didn’t see answered at CES: what more can they do?

    Dell had a great vision for what their (uncommitted) tablet would do, but the actual tablets at CES never ventured into that “more” territory. While the masses can’t seem to remember we’ve had tablets for years, they ironically also seem stuck in the same ideas of how we operate them, the ones that failed to sell the form factor the first time around. A fresh approach is needed. Whether Apple will deliver that is debatable, but I don’t think anyone at CES beat them to it.

  6. everbrave

    01/14/2010 at 10:31 am

    What supports Sumocat’s thesis is that Apple has often set standards for the UI, e.g. Windows! and multi-touch as Sumocat mentioned.
    There will always be people who need a keyboard, and those do not need a tablet (get a thin&light) but others who want a tablet and those do not need a keyboard; I never used a keyboard with the Apple Newton MP (3 generations of it) although I had one!

  7. ninetynine

    01/15/2010 at 4:48 pm

    I agree with this post. CES was so odd in terms of tablets. They had no direction, no purpose. Apple seems to of fooled everyone into producing a senseless product with no appeal.

    Yes I can surf the net by poking websites…maybe %50 more efficient than a touchpad/mouse, decreasingly so as you miss small links and buttons.

    Inputting text for websites, comments, posts? 1000% more inefficient for me…touch typing to hunting and pecking. Maybe a handheld device makes it worth it. Can’t really walk around with a netbook.

    Everyone made themselves look foolish at CES. Apple may give them some direction, which Apple is good at.

  8. everbrave

    01/16/2010 at 4:20 am

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