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Apple Netbook This Fall?


July 14, 2009 08:29 PM PST

There have been some rumors lately about Apple releasing a netbook.

This would be an interesting device, if they did it, and I wonder what model they'd use for software? Would all Mac OS X applications just run, or would they try to use an AppStore model with a new SDK designed specifically for it? After all, a device like that would have limited screen real estate, an accelerometer and a virtual keyboard... not many main stream Mac applications would be pleasantly shoe-horned into it. iPhone applications might assume a specific screen size, and might not look so great on a much larger screen.

Apple doesn't seem to make many niche products these days (Apple TV seems to be the exception), with their very clearly segmented Mac products, iPods and iPhones.

Still, I'd buy one just for web access at home while watching TV or lying in bed. Imagine if it could read Kindle books, too... could be cool.

Comments (8)

John, July 14, 2009 09:08 PM:

Well, we've been talking about a mac tablet for so long now, that it is hard to get excited about it now. I'll update my previous (proven wrong) tablet predictions though, in the wake of the iPhone app store success.

If Apple released such a device, it would be more of a large iPod touch than a tablet Mac. It would run a variant of iPhone OS with UI kit. I no longer think it would run native OSX apps. Navigating that interface would require a stylus and I just don't see Apple doing that.

I also don't think it will run native iPhone apps either (scaled or as a widget). The reason is that it would be easy enough for existing apps to be ported to the new tablet, and it would allow app vendors to charge you all over again for the new version. This makes more money for the app vendor and for Apple - no t to mention filling up another app store with a large number of apps for Apple to brag about.

I've been using various tablet devices for years now to surf the web, playing media etc. so this experience won't be completely new to me. The experience has been ok, but bringing the iPhone interface to such a device would clearly enhance the experience.

FredB, July 20, 2009 04:05 PM:

OS X on a large-ish ipod or tablet seems silly when they already have a great touch-based UI interface. Just because Apple keeps surprising us, I would expect a completely new UI that is based on the iphone OS, but is better suited to a larger screen. I think just blowing up the iphone interface would look strange and would be a waste of screen real estate. With a bigger screen you could cram more buttons on there and thereby reduce the number of additional screens to click thru. Maybe even add a hideaway sidebar which shows up when you finger hovers near the edge and I see even less clicking/tapping.

Paul, July 24, 2009 11:35 AM:

More indications that an Apple netbook or tablet is coming, from TechCrunch and AppleInsider.

Paul, July 28, 2009 12:09 PM:

I think the tablet (if it exists) is all about transforming books and print media. Apple under Steve is very focused on specific markets, and they don't tend to introduce random products just because.

They focused on music with iTunes / iPod / iPhone, and movies. Apple were one of the first to get the large content owners to put their goods up for sale in a digital store, and they were quite successful at it. iTunes + iPod is the gold standard for music distribution these days. So, Apple's got audio and video covered.

Now Apple is going to do the same thing with newspapers and books, and they can do it in a credible way since they can point to the success they've had with music and movies. Everyone knows the newspaper business is in serious trouble, so they'd love to sell you a subscription via iTunes + iReader tablet.

The Kindle seems to be doing well, but it's like an old antennae black and white TV compared to what you could do with a beautifully designed tablet designed to be held like a book, and with all the multimedia extras that could be included with the 'print' content.

The iReader tablet is all about transforming print media: newspaper subscriptions sold through iTunes and the best reading form factor built by the Apple designers with a track record for making incredible devices. It doesn't hurt that watching videos (bought through iTunes, of course) will be a much nicer experience on the tablet's larger screen.

john, July 28, 2009 12:27 PM:

I'm going to bet against it being targeted primarily at reading. Sure it will be a good reader, but without e-ink the battery life won't cut it. Also it will be heavier than the Kindle so won't be quite a book replacement. That being said I hope there is a new Kindle Reader for the larger screen. I'd much rather apply Kindle money toward a more general purpose tablet than a dedicated reader.

I think this device will be targeted at media, apps/games and internets primarily. I think that it may fill the niche that the Apple TV was not able to do. With a tablet you can stream your media like Apple TV but you are not limited to sitting on the couch.

It will also usher in video podcasts to the mainstream. Why would the average joe read the paper when he can watch the news on demand? Also imagine news and magazine delivered in a multi-media format with text and video. It would be something like the web experience, but cached for offline reading. - Just a thought.

I've also hear rumors of the device coming with integrated 3G from Verizon. That would be cool.

Paul, July 28, 2009 01:27 PM:

It's too early to guess at the specs like battery life or weight, so I'm not sure I buy your argument there.

I also think that the scenario you propose is too unfocused for an Apple device like this: targeting "media, apps/games and internets" isn't targeting at all. Apple has been really disciplined in making each product fit a specific role.

Why would average Joe read a paper on a tablet instead of watching TV? Because my guess is that this isn't just going to be like reading a web page on a tablet or the current generally unsatisfying experience of ebook readers today. If Apple does this product, it'll be because they've come up with something really compelling that'll make you want to consume content in this way, just like they made it ridiculously easy to consume digital music with sampling and instant, cheap downloads.

John, August 3, 2009 01:17 PM:

Here is a lengthy post giving a detailed history of the Apple tablet rumors going back 7 years. In the end he concludes is that the tablet is vapor and that what we are going to see is a 10 inch ultra-portable Macbook. That would ok too.

Paul, September 29, 2009 12:54 AM:

Find a way to deny this, haters.

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