Over at InfoWorld, Randall C. Kennedy has posted up his thoughts on the forthcoming Apple tablet, conservatively placed under the non-confrontational headline, “Why Apple’s rumored iTablet will fail big time.”
Kennedy’s points are all good ones, if a bit petulantly phrased. First, he points out the history of the tablet PC, noting that every major computer manufacturer has experimented with tablets, with all experiments ending in failure, because tablets are underpowered and awkward to use on anything but a desk or table Kennedy then points out that for most of us, typing on a hardware keyboard is simply faster than using a pen or stylus. For regular computing, Kennedy says, a laptop or netbook is simply going to do anything a tablet can do, quicker, more efficiently and more precisely.
Those aren’t bad points, but Kennedy is ignoring the fact that all past tablets have failed precisely because they weren’t fully realized products.
Tablets have historically just been laptops with digitizers, and ran operating systems that were only modestly tweaked to encapsulate the functionality the tablet-form factor implies. Apple is not going to make that same mistake: the one thing Apple does better than any other company on the market is releasing new, fully actualized products, with operating systems designed around the possibilities of their device’s form and function. They aren’t going to release a laptop without a keyboard. They are going to release a targeted product that is much more likely to be meant for mobile browsing, reading, gaming and multimedia than writing reports or presentations.
I’m a bit skeptical of the Apple Tablet too, but it would be total stupidity to write off Apple’s device simply because of the mistakes companies like Microsoft and HP have made in the past. Apple will have learned from them, and their Tablet isn’t going to be like anything on the market before. It will fail or succeed, not as a tablet, but as a new class of product.