While there is still time, here is a quick clarification to my Apple tablet predictions for tomorrow. While in my previous post I said I predicted pen input, I guess what I really meant to say was handwriting recognition. There’s no reason it has to be a stylus. Apple might make you use your finger, or maybe just make the motions of writing while you pretend to hold an invisible pen.
So before there are any more leaks, I wanted to get my Apple tablet predictions on the record. I generally agree with the Mac MSM consensus represented by John Gruber and Andy Ihnatko’s takes on the tablet (although I disagree with Ihnatko that there won’t be a unified Apple-written e-reader app for the tablet). Here, however, are my two off-the-wall predictions, which later this month I will remind you of with self-satisfaction if they come to pass, or otherwise hope that you will have forgotten.
1. Price - I predict the tablet will be surprisingly inexpensive. The consensus seems to be that it will come in the $600-$700 range. I think that if they want to compete in the netbook category (and let’s not kid ourselves about that), they have to come close to those prices. I’m not saying the tablet will be anything like a netbook, but I think it will aim to satisfy the same demand that netbooks now satisfy. How will they get to a $300- $400 price range? There’s always the revolutionary breakthrough. If not that, then there’s always a carrier subsidy just like the iPhone.
2. Stylus - I predict the tablet will take pen input. I know Steve Jobs famously pooh-poohed styli when he introduced the iPhone, but this is a different device. I agree with Andy Ihnatko that there’s no way Apple will allow a physical keyboard to attach to this thing, but I’m not convinced that a virtual keyboard is the best alternative. Typing with two hands on a flat glass screen just doesn’t sound right to me. Add to that Apple’s lead in handwriting recognition. It started with the Newton and continues today with the Inkwell Technology built right into OS X.
Most people don’t know this about their Macs, but it comes with an app called Ink, which allows you to do pen-based handwriting input. (See the video.) Also, on Macs with multitouch trackpads, you can use your finger to do Chinese character recognition. It seems to me Apple has continued to develop this technology for a reason.
So there you have it. My ill-advised tablet predictions. Bookmark it and set an alarm so you can make fun of me in a couple of weeks.