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Apple Mac Tablet for the rest of us, Part 1

an image of an artists impression of a possible Apple Mac TabletApple rumours abound. What with the Apple iPhone doing the rounds, the Mac Tablet had to get an airing. But what would a Mac Tablet do, how would it work and what problems would a Mac Tablet solve?

The R&D labs at Apple are a fabled place as Groom Lake, Arizona, more commonly known as ‘Area 51’, with all kinds of strange, weird and wonderful imaginings of what Apple might or might not be working on finding their way onto the web, message boards, forums and email mailing lists aplenty.

I’m pretty sure Apple dabbles in all kinds of ideas, many of which probably are very weird and very much wonderful, but does a tablet PC qualify?

OK, so just what the hell would a Mac Tablet do, exactly?

To answer that question, you have to trace the origins of such a device back to a specific need or a group of needs.

The principle need for such a device is to facilitate greater portability than a laptop, greater utility than a PDA and the option of more ad hoc data entry.

Right now, the Windows Tablet PC isn’t exactly the barnstormer Microsoft would have hoped it would have been:

“[The tablet PC is] a pet project of [Microsoft chairman Bill Gates] and despite lacklustre sales so far – it might break through a million sales in this, its third year – he’s keen to see it succeed.”

So commercially, not a big a hit. And then there’s the technical problems to contend with, too:

“Microsoft has publicly acknowledged the Tablet PC bug that eats up the computer’s memory until the machine crashes. The out of control memory leak remains unchecked while Redmond’s Red Adairs grapple to put a lid on the blow-out. But there’s no word yet of exactly when a fix will be issued.”

The solution? A restart is required every day. Nice!

Now, this isn’t where I tell you how you’d never see this kind of thing happening with anything Apple would make, because that’s not true. Apple have had their fare share of problems. But the problems Apple have are often much farer apart and fewer in number.

Anyway, back to the question of a need. Through the eyes of Microsoft, this need needed to be kneaded and moulded somewhat, a need centered around a demographic, preferably one that’s from a good income bracket.

And that’s where they went, straight after the ‘corridor warrior’, no less:

“She’s a corridor warrior – she spends more time attending meetings and dashing between conference rooms than at her desk. With five or six meetings a day, she’s not what you customarily think of as a mobile worker. Yet as she dashes along the corporate hallways, she has many of the same on-the-go computing needs as her business-traveler co-workers who depend on notebook computers for access to all their information wherever they are.”

As rich and vivid a picturesque sales pitch as you’re likely to get from a Press Release. Personally, I see a tousle-haired brunette in a black pencil skirt, white blouse, medium build, athletic-looking, blue eyes .. erm, anyway, she’s a woman on a mission, put it that way!

So in one fell swoop, we also cover the issue of what kind of problems such a device would solve, but that’s from Microsoft’s perspective, not Apple’s.

Now, bearing in mind Microsoft haven’t had a success with the Windows XP Tablet Edition PC doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, despite the line that some commentators take.

Right now, I think the market Microsoft has in mind is probably right, but the workflow of the average business within that market isn’t ready for this kind of thing. Plus, these things need to be smaller and easier to use.

A natural segue for me to talk about Apple? Of course, but you’ll just have to wait until next time…

Part 1, 2, 3

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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