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Mac Tablet - Is a new revolution coming this Fall?

July 25, 2009

The Financial Times is bolstering rumors that Apple has been working on, and in fact, readying a release of a new mobile device in time for the Christmas shopping season.  Rumors have it that the new device will have a form factor somewhere between an iPhone and a MacBook with a screen size of about 10 inches and will retail for around $800. 

Although there have been rumors about a Mac Tablet bouncing around for over a year now, there has been a growing base information that seems to confirm this  one, the FT Times article not withstanding. For example, the InfoTimes in Taiwan ( need a translator for this one) is reporting that Taiwanese manufacturers are providing parts for a new Apple device with a 10 inch screen and an iPod type touchscreen interface.   The touchscreen is being provided by Wintek, batteries by Dynapack International Technology Corp. and the Hon Hai Precision Industry Co is assembling the device. Then there is an article in the Street.com that reports that the new device is being subsidized by Verizon, the article even quotes a source familiar with the partnership that it "won't be as tightly integrated" as the exclusive partnership struck up with AT&T for Apple's iPhone.  There are many other examples as well with details so specific that it is hard to dismiss the aggregated information as another Mac Tablet rumor.

Assuming the rumor is not a rumor at all but the end of a closely held product launch then the mobile developer world maybe in for another revolution.  The success of the Mac Tablet will ultimately depend on how disruptive the product is to the market.  After all tablet PC's have been tried by other major players such as Microsoft, Toshiba, and Dell with little fanfare.  Apple though is known for producing disruptive products where others have failed. The iPhone's disruptive attributes have been debated since it's introduction but it's hard to deny the facts, here are just a few:

  •  45 million iPhones and iPod touches sold in the last 2 years according to AdMob
  • Safari accounts for about 78 percent of the mobile Web browser market according to the February results from Net Applications
  • Apple's iPhone claimed 67 percent of the mobile operating system market in February according to the same report.
  • According to  148Apps.biz the Apple App Store currently carries over 66,000 applications from over 14,000 publishers, with thousands of new applications coming online every month.

Quoting a friend of mine who finally gave in and purchased an iPhone recently, the iPhone "just works, and it works the way I think it should, Apple really did the mobile phone right". If the Mac Tablet can do a Tablet PC right it may enjoy the same success in a market that many have given up on.  And certainly if the Mac Tablet (if it exists) takes off like the iPhone, iPhone developers may have a new, much richer environment to sell their wares.

Some rumors upon the main rumor of a Mac Tablet have indicated that Apple is indeed looking to go beyond the introduction of a Tablet PC to introduce some revolutionary features.  According to the FT Times recording industry executives  are excited about a project codenamed Cocktail, focused on using the Mac Tablets larger screen to display interactive booklets and liner notes for full CD downloads  they hope will bolster the purchases of entire music CDs from iTunes.  In addition, Apple has been talking with book publishers who are optimistic that the Mac Tablet could provide an alternative to Amazon's Kindle,  Sony's Reader and a forthcoming device from Plastic Logic, recently allied with Barnes & Noble. Remember the Amazon.com launch of Kindle was the most succesful new product of 2007 and 2008 Christmas seasons, outselling event the initial launch of the iPod. Today, 35% of all books sold by Amazon are now electronic Kindle editions according to CEO Jeff Bezo's speaking at the Amazon Kindle DX product launch, May 6th 2009 NYC.

The world may soon see the next 'big thing' from Apple is actually another little thing, a Mac Tablet.  For mobile developers, the disruption of a successful product launch may be a good thing.


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