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iPad is just the beginning

The media pad market is new, so expect plenty of media pads and more iPads.

The media pad market is brand new. And it's not going to be stuck at a 9.7-inch diagonal.

Does the iPod come in one size? Or the MacBook? No, and neither will the iPad
Does the iPod come in one size? Or the MacBook? No, and neither will the iPad.

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 Motorola, RIM (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 Motorola-Verizon tablet; apps for iPad already; more HTML5 streaming
  • 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.