Why we’re not buying the Asus/Apple iTablet rumor - Macenstein

Why we’re not buying the Asus/Apple iTablet rumor

Just as I was able to confidently predict Apple would never release a touchscreen iPod, 🙂 so too am I convinced these recent Apple/Asus tablet PC rumors are untrue.

I do not doubt Apple has an “iTablet” touchscreen portable prototype locked away deep inside its R&D labs, (after all, they submitted their patent for one back in 2005), but there are a couple things that, to my mind at least, still put the Apple tablet a fair ways off.

First, what is the perceived market for this device, and how many would Apple realistically sell?

The real question here is, when would you use a tablet PC, and in how many of those situations would you have been unable to use a regular (and more versatile, and powerful) Mac laptop instead? The only real scenario I can think of is depicted in the Apple patent drawing above – namely, for some reason, you need to compute while standing. I have yet to encounter such a scenario in MY daily computing, but I’m sure someone will say that a doctor might like to do that instead of carrying around a clipboard. Well, OK… now, how many doctors use Macs? OK, and now, how many doctors use Macs at work? Every hospital I have been to (and I have been to more and more since having kids) seems to be Windows-only, and odds are they’d be unlikely to want to support or fund a new piece of technology that can be replaced with a pad, pen and clipboard for $3.00.

Doing so might make healthcare unreasonably expensive.


Second, think of the ergonomics

Who is the average Mac laptop user? For the most part, students. As we all know, students are slouchy, lazy folks who hate to stand. College lecture halls all have seats with desks for students to place their laptops on while they sit and type. A iTablet would need some sort of a kickstand in order for a user to sit and type on and still see the screen. Each “press” of a virtual keyboard would push the tablet further and further off their desk. If they the students held the tablet instead, they’d be reduced to one-handed typing.

Apple’s other mobile customers are graphics professionals and editors, neither of whose application lend themselves to “index finger driven” input. Again, what does a lack of physical keyboard give to an artist?

This is not to say Apple is not thinking of making a huge push into the medical or sales rep business arenas (areas where stock photography would lead us to believe more people compute while standing, as well as confidently shake hands), but that really seems like a big gamble.

Third, the timing

The timing of this rumor seems just a little off to me. I had just read an article on Engadget about Asus’ Eee PC, and then 2 days later someone publishes a rumor that Asus is making Apple’s tablet computer? Call me cynical, but I could totally see this rumor being “inspired by a true story”.

A product without a purpose

The entire basis of the Apple tablet rumor seems to be based more in the need of some Apple fans to see it made than to actually use it. There are no longer any technological hurdles to overcome in making a tablet PC, so it is understandable to think, “why not make one?”. But realistically, what would you use a light weight, keyboardless, 12-inch touchscreen PC with perhaps a 32 GB flash hard drive for? Windows tablets have been out for years, but I have yet to see a person using one.

Marketing the iTablet

In a way, I picture the advertising campaign the iTablet would spawn to be similar to those late night infomercials where an announcer outlines a bizarre scenario that has never happened to anyone (usually shot in black and white), and then says “How many times has this happened to you!?“. This is then of course followed by them showing you how their bizarre niche product easily solves this “problem” (in color).

I suppose for the iTablet spot, we’ll see a doctor trying desperately to zoom in to an X-Ray on their Windows tablet, fumbling for the magnifying glass icon, and then – crash! – they drop the tablet, and their patient flat-lines! (in black and white, of course). But now, look how easily the Apple iTablet-using doctor can zoom into the X-Ray by simply spreading apart his fingers! This is followed by the formerly dead patient now playing with her children in a grassy field.

Hmm, on second thought, I’m sold!
And I’ll need 2.

10 Responses to “Why we’re not buying the Asus/Apple iTablet rumor”
  1. Ron Popeil says:

    The visual for that commercial is hysterical. But Apple has never had a sense of humor when it comes to their ads.

  2. root says:

    I agree. Now I want Apple to release one just so they make that spot!

  3. it could be useful for porn……
    i’m usually only rocking one hand and operating my mouse with my left hand is too hard. I need that sweet touch screen input.

    poopface out.

  4. peterr says:

    The patient should turn bluish from lack of oxygen and the narrator tells everyone that the patient has gotten a Windows BSOD, “Blue Shade of Death!”.

  5. sdmonty says:

    In my (rather humble) opinion, all the points you raise above get trumped by one factor: the multi-touch interface.

    Of course we generally don’t compute standing up these days – right now (and for the previous four decades) computing required us to be tethered to a CPU, keyboard, and mouse. With a full touch-based interface, the way in which we interact with our data, as well as where/when/how will change.

  6. Rob says:

    I’ve used a tablet PC during my time at university. I found a tablet has one major advantage over a laptop: it’s easier to create notes and relationships within those notes. Drawing lines is much easier and I found that I could get more done.

    It all depends on the software though.

  7. I would buy an Apple Tablet much quicker than the iPhone I bought months ago. I would use the Tablet with every patient I see. Instead of the clunky desktops or laptops that physicians use with their Electronic Medical Records, we could use a tablet. Checking my medical software like Epocrates would be easier, since it would be similar to a handheld, but larger.
    In the hospital, a WiFi tablet would be a godsend to look up patients’ lab results, chart notes, etc, and not have to squint to see all this on a standard handheld like my Palm T|X.
    Lastly, I could finally read stuff like a book, newspaper or website on something portable, yet decent sized without hinges. It could have a 16gb flash drive and would hold all I need.
    Go for it, Apple, and you will make hundreds of thousands of physicians happier overnight!
    Alan Koenigsberg, M.D.
    Dallas, Texas

  8. Scott says:

    In a world where the fastest growing segment of mobile phones are those that are touch screen enabled…it seems more than plausible that Apple would develop and release a multi-touch screen laptop. That said a ‘tablet’ with no keyboard is a specialty product that likely lies outside of what Apple would need to support its near $200B market cap.

    The one market that a keyboard-less mac tablet might get traction is live entertainment; DJs, Musicians and video productions all run on Macs and provide any number of scenarios where a touch screen would work better than a keyboard. While this doesn’t represent a huge chunk of the market, it is a segment Apple has catered to and cultivated so maybe…just maybe…they would produce a device for them.

  9. jetech3 M.Ed says:

    As someone who works in education, the iTablet would be very welcome. There are many tablets marketed to teachers to interact with whiteboards. It would be great to transition from a traditional laptop to a tablet for use with a projector (wirelessly of course) during lessons.

  10. lordpuma says:

    I’m surprised you’re overlooking the most obvious advantage to a Tablet PC: you can DRAW right on the screen. Rather than using a somewhat counterintuative external tablet input, you could work as though you’re drawing or painting on a digital canvas. Wacom has the awesome Cintiq display, but who can afford $2500 just for your display? I’m hesitant to spend $1800 on a laptop. But if the laptop has a screen like the Cintiq (and is a Mac!), I’d be sold in a heartbeat.

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