From July to January, a look back on predictions
The strongest rumors in recent years about an Apple tablet device surfaced back in July when reports stated that Apple could release the touchscreen gadget as early as October. At that point I made some predictions on what we might expect.
One of the worst things about predictions is that most people making them rarely go back and let you know how they fared. It happens all the time on sports shows when talking heads predict that such-and-such a team will make the championships; come to find out nine months later they didn't even make the playoffs. The same is true of the wild predictions made in the tech world when it comes to Apple products. Nearly every Web site that covers Apple in any capacity will pick up on product rumors and offer their takes on what could be coming.
First I will start off with my philosophical prediction:
For my money, the rumored device means more than it first appears to mean. Yes, it will be yet another unique and spectacular device in Apple's lineup. Yes, it will likely drive competition to copy it. Yes, it will be more expensive than people will want it to be. And yes, there will be several people saying that it fails by not providing features that they believe it should.On this point I think I nailed it, only being possibly wrong about the pricing issue. Rarely is a price point from Apple talked about in the "it's so cheap" context, but it seems as though the iPad has managed to get into that conversation. Otherwise, the Web is burning with lists of missing features, the competition has already released their versions (see: HP's recently demoed, at the fumbling hands of Steve Ballmer, slate computer), it is indeed a unique and spectacular device, boasting Apple's first mobile processor (the Apple A4 chip), and as nearly everyone that has actually handled the iPad is writing, it is much more than it appears.
I agreed that the iPad would have a 9.7-inch touch-screen display. From that rumor I predicted that the tablet would run the iPhone OS and that "the tablet OS could have some minor upgrades from the typical OS, including a solution to resolve the screen size differences." Enter pixel-doubling and the new iPhone 3.2 SDK.
Next I went in to hardware inclusions, putting at least one USB port, a Dock Connector, and an SD card slot on the iPad, and also including a front-facing camera for video conferencing. Of course, the camera did not show up, but I would like to take a half-point for the USB and SD card slot predictions. Though not included on the device itself, same-day accessory announcements provide for a USB and SD card adapter for the Dock Connector.
The popular pricing point in July was $900. I did not feel that the iPad would be a competitor or replacement for the low-end MacBook so I figured Apple would find a way to get the price into the higher-end of the Netbook market. Not considering a Wi-Fi-only option, I thought Apple would use a 3G subsidy (from AT&T or Verizon) to get the price into the $599 range. Apple certainly got the price in the right area (starting at $499 for Wi-Fi-only), but by different means. I'll call this prediction a wash, since there are so many factors in determining the price.
I saw the usage of the tablet particularly enticing for the business community. And though my prediction of a touch version of iWork did not show up until, Apple did spend time creating its iWork Apps specifically for the iPad. Of course, there was no mention of micro-projection for the iPad, though in fairness, that was much more of a "wouldn't that be cool" wish than a real prediction (especially since it was based only on a recent patent filing and not a clearer sense of Apple's actual direction).
In the later article from January 8 of this year, I talked more about the iPhone OS (or possibly a new Tablet OS) being the main UI for the iPad:
The UI design will be sure to take advantage of mobile entertainment, making the tablet a perfect traveling companion for watching movies, viewing your photographs, and yes, keeping up with your reading (e-books, e-magazines, and e-comics).
And to round it out, in answer to the many skeptics (even still) asking the question of ho will use this, I wrote, "The tablet slips in that middle ground, offering powerful computing (I think an iLife/iWork Mobile application suite may be included) in a truly compact and easily portable form factor." With a great photos application that includes Faces and Places, and the new iWork Apps, the iPad has indeed filled a small, but worthwhile, gap between our iPhones and our Macs.
Now the only question that remains is: Can we do something about that name?