A little torn on this. Granted, we tend to be reflexively anti-Microsoft at times, but this probably is the most-aggressive attempt to take on Apple we’ve seen yet, and it’s worth taking seriously. They took Apple’s biggest iPad weakness — the lack of physical keyboard — and banked the entire device on it. It’s a smart approach, but you know, it’s one that seems like it’d be simple for a Kickstarter to copy completely. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects third-party vendors, too. Either way, this seems like an attempt to take out the netbook — if they price it right, at least.
And that’s just it: they didn’t announce a price. Unless they take a loss, I don’t see it matching the iPad’s $499, in which case it is not competing with the iPad. So with what is it competing? Perhaps the lesson Microsoft did learn from Apple is that if your market is going to get disrupted, it might as well be you who does it. So I think this might be competing against themselves (and their partners). A PC for the post-PC world.
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I’ll take this opportunity to point out that I nailed it with my prediction that the tablet would be priced under $500. (I won’t mention the handwriting recognition prediction.)
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.