My Apple Tablet Prediction

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

On the 27th of the first month, Steve Jobs will come down from the mountain forge of the gods, and bestow upon the waiting masses his tablet(s). Thus sayeth the prophets.

But what will the Apple Tablet be? Well, I predicted the following in two tweets here and here on January 5th, but let me elaborate.

Prediction: The Tablet will run a different version of OS X than a Macbook or an iPhone.

Why? Steve and co. have a good thing going with the Mac market right now. They don’t want to cannibalize their existing sales.  In fact, to them it’s crucial they don’t.

I also predict, while the code from OS X will be there, there’s going to be a different interface layer. So, developers will be able to modify their existing (updated to clarify: DESKTOP) apps for the tablet, but, they won’t be able to just release them.

Why? Because Apple isn’t going to just release another Netbook. That’s just not their style. Putting a touch screen keyboard or a slide out or even a laser powered desktop touch keyboard on a 10″ screen and calling it an Apple Product is not something that will make Steve smile. In my vision I see lots of Apple Usability folks hidden away in some lab making a set of touch gestures, figure pinch gestures, and slides that are going to let us use our tablets in ways that, like the iPod, we didn’t know we knew how to do but now that we see them, it’s obvious.

App Store
Image via Wikipedia

Why else? Because of the App Store, stupid. Look how well that worked for the iPhone. If they can create a developer App Store for Tablet apps, that creates a new ecosystem, and another cash cow.

But wait, you say you still love your (Insert iPhone App here)? No problem. Because the tablet is going to emulate an iPod Touch in a window, right on the tablet screen. Therefore, you’ll be able to do all that iPhone/Touch cool stuff on your tablet too, giving Apple and their Developer community another market for apps. Will they let you use your tablet as a phone too? My money is on no – but with built in 3G, perhaps Skype will be a good partner and let Apple beat back the Google monster. It all depends on the carrier they partnered with. I’m hoping they didn’t do an exclusive AT&T deal again.

Emulation is key because the tablet isn’t going to run the processor the iPhone does. Specs? Well, having seen a Netbook with an Atom 270 processor and 1.5 GB of Ram running OS X in a very speedy, quite acceptable way, I’m predicting this tablet will be built off the latest Intel Atom chip. My rationale for this is simple. It is dead stupid easy to run OS X on a Netbook right now, if you know how to Google search for “Hackintosh.” That’s not a coincidence. If Apple wanted to, they could make it really hard for hackers to do this. But it’s been easy to find hacks, and easy to get updates whenever the OS is updated.

I believe this is a market test they’re running to see how people respond to the smaller screen. And the response, from me is this: “Wow, OSX runs really well on a Lenovo S10-e, but a lot of the Mac interface isn’t designed to work on a 10″ screen.” They need new interface elements, new design, and a few speed improvements.

Well, that’s what I predict on Jan 27th. Your comments are welcome.

(Thanks to Tristan Louis and Mark Stahlman for thinking this through a little with me. But if I’m wrong, the blame is my own. For goodness sake, don’t trade on my info – none of this is sourced.)

UPDATE: Tristan has his own prediction.

UPDATE: Of course, Doc Searls predicted this in 1997 (via Dave Winer’s old blog).

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