The media pad market is brand new. And it's not going to be stuck at a 9.7-inch diagonal.
So, no one should be surprised by rumors about Apple bringing out more tablets (or tablet-like devices) beyond the current 9.7-inch iPad. It's going to happen--bigger or smaller screens, or both--rumors notwithstanding.
And there are plenty of unmet needs out there that, (via a BlackBerry tablet), Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer or another media pad maker will surely satisfy.
Dell's Streak, which at five inches is not quite a media pad but more than a smartphone, already offers features--like front- and back-facing cameras--that telegraph what could come from Apple or others.
So, here's a general list (including Android and Windows-based devices) of likely media pad features coming down the pike, with appended comments on some indicating whether Apple would include that feature in a future iPad:
- Cameras: front- and/or back-facing camera; future iPad: yes (think: Skype)
- USB port: on Windows tablet; future iPad--don't hold your breath
- SD card: Windows tablet
- Better screens : think OLED (e.g., future Samsung OELDs) in 2011/2012 on a very thin, light iPad
- TV: rumored to be on
- Performance boost via dual-core processors: future iPad: yes
- More robust OS supporting better graphics to match the speedier processors
- Better multitasking: Windows; via iOS 4 upgrade of current iPad
- Adobe Flash support: Windows, Android: yes; future iPad: no
- More standard apps Windows: definitely; on the iPad, more apps like iLife
- Printing built into the OS
One data plan: And finally. Maybe this is a bit of whimsy but how about a data plan from Verizon or AT&T that offers a combined 3G plan for a smartphone and a tablet? The iPhone and iPad being a great example. A combined 6GB plan, for instance. Carriers in Canada reportedly have plans like this in the works.
Note: In response to a few of the comments, the listed features are not necessarily Apple-centric, as I stated in the article, which is focused on post-iPad 1.0 (which includes all tablets). Any ideas about must-have features are welcome from readers.
Updated at 3:20 p.m. PDT: adding to list and adding note.