Home > Electronics > The Jesus Tablet Cometh

The Jesus Tablet Cometh

January 27th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

unicornSo there seems to be some minor event happening today out in California where Apple is planning to talk about a small upgrade to their product line.  We here at GadgetMeter wouldn’t know anything about this because such minor product announcements are beneath us.  When Apple releases something worthy of mention, we will deign to notice.  Until then, we sit contemplating weighty thoughts on life, the universe, and how to make a perfect Korean burrito.  (Add us to your damn invite list, Apple!!!!  You hear me?!?!?!)

In all seriousness, the hype over the upcoming tablet announcement (thank you Mr. Terry “Loose Lips Sink Future Apple Relationships” McGraw) is reaching levels that no product could possibly satisfy.  Unless this thing raises the dead and cures cancer, it will be deemed a failure.  I mean, c’mon – it’s just a gadget.  And it will stay a gadget until people start doing stuff with it.  The iPhone was just a clever gadget until people started developing apps for it.  Ever hear of AppleTV?  No?  It too was a clever gadget but no one ever did anything for it (and the few times people tried, Apple squashed them like a bug) so it’s disappeared.

Most likely, the tablet will be a very interesting take on the whole space.  Companies have been trying to get critical mass in the tablet space for a while but the devices have all suffered from two major flaws – heft and Microsoft.

Have you seen the typical tablet?  Until CES this year, they were all massive, weighing in excess of 3lbs.  Try carrying a 3lb weight like a microphone for 10-15 minutes.  It gets darn uncomfortable.  Now try that with a 5lb weight.  Even harder.  Get the picture?  No one wants to lug something like that around.  Sure, you can sit down at a local cafe or prop it up on a flat surface, but the point of it is to be able to walk around, interact with it, then put it away without thinking about it.  If the heft makes you hesitate to pull it out, the tablet has failed.  The great thing about the iPhone is that it made itself seamless in your life.  Need to look something up?  Whip out the iPhone.  My fiancee and I have settled arguments at dinner by grabbing my iPhone to Google something.  Now think about doing that with a PC.  Not even remotely possible.

The other major issue with tablets to date is Microsoft.  Let’s face it – hardware manufacturers are not very good at software (“cough cough” Dell especially sucks “cough cough”).  In fact, Apple is probably the only hardware manufacturer that does good software.  Because hardware makers suck at software, they rely on Microsoft Windows to provide functionality and as we all know, Windows is not optimized for anything.  It has huge bloat, the interface was never designed for mobile use, and its tablet functions were always an afterthought.  Even Windows 7, which has tablet functionality baked in, is an example of this bloat.  Why do I need a full Windows 7 install for a tablet?  It only adds disk, memory, and processing requirements onto a device that should be light and fast.  This carries down to the mobile space, where Windows Mobile 6.x is the latest example of bloated interface requirements being implemented on a device that has no desire to be a PC.  Unless Microsoft drops this “one universe one way” approach to their segments, they will rapidly become irrelevant.

What Apple excels at is minimalistic design of both hardware and software.  You can admire their hardware aesthetic, but their software minimalism is just as important to their success.  The iPhone OS does very specific things and it does them very well.  Furthermore, it provides a framework that allows developers to do 80%-90% of what they want to do, which for most people is JUST FINE.  If Apple doesn’t think something is absolutely needed, they don’t include it.  You don’t see a Mac interface in all its complexity squashed into the iPhone – they took the important stuff and put it in, but they weren’t wedded to absolute reproduction across their product lines.  They also aren’t afraid to break backwards compatibility (as they showed when they shifted to Intel chips).  I’m guessing that Apple is going to be very unconcerned about iPhone OS4 being a slow-as-molasses experience on an iPhone or iPhone 3G.  The future of Apple relies on regular hardware replacement.  They won’t care that you can’t run Quake 4 on your original iPhone if it forces you to buy iPhone v5 or v6.

I think the tablet will be similar.  Apple will provide an expanded framework based on iPhone OS.  It will do some things similar to the iPhone, it will do other things differently.  But because Apple’s already invested in a method by which developers can reach end users in an efficient, relatively cheap way, they already have a bunch of folks who will build new ways to interact and use the tech that Apple has given them.  I’m looking forward to this event not because of what Apple will release, but because I’m eager to see the creative potential of their new product.  It’s no accident that their invite uses a creativity theme.

Bookmark and Share
Categories: Electronics Tags: