Jan 26

500x_mac-tablet-concept-2The iTablet: will Apple launch it or not? That’s a question that’s been floating around the web for many years. Yes years, because back in 2001 the first rumours about a so called iPad started to show up. After those first rumours, the buzz around an Apple Tablet device was often quiet as well. And then, suddenly, new rumours showed up. This went on and on for many years, but the year 2009 must have been the most fruitful year when it comes to rumours about this now mythical device. Here’s an overview of the Apple Tablet rumours throughout the years.

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On May 24, 2001, Kevin Fox, a user experience designer for Google, posted some interesting information on his blog. He stated that Apple was planning to bring a full-sized tablet-based computer on the market. Apple has tried to do this four times, but the device never saw the light of day. The fifth attempt was called iPad. The device had a 12-inch LCD touch- and stylus-sensitive screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768, weighed 2 to 3 pounds and had a price tag placed just under a thousand dollars. Still Apple didn’t deliver, but iPad could be the real name as we’ve learned not so long ago. (Source: Fury)

The story continues on November 18, 2002, Matthew Rothenberg at eWeek  writes that “It’s my strong belief, let’s call it a hunch, that prototype Mac tablets are already making the rounds among select developers” adding “Nota bene: I’ve yet to get my hands on a smoking pen that will verify the Tablet Mac’s existence. Any readers with first-hand experience are welcome to drop me a line (in the strictest confidence, of course).”

Less then two months later, on January 3, 2003, Rothenberg has gotten information about the so called Tablet Mac. It looks like a large iPod, has an 8-inch screen, no keyboard and runs Mac OS X and aims at the multimedia market. The device was set to debut at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco of that year. We all know how that went. (Source: MacRumors)

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On June 4, 2003, Steve Jobs gave his opinion about the iTablet:

“There are no plans to make a tablet… people want keyboards. We look at the tablet and we think it is going to fail. Tablets appeal to rich guys with plenty of other PCs and devices already.”

Apple apperantly changed their plans.

November 27, 2003: Robert Cringely ignores Steve Jobs’ opinion and says  the following:

“Quanta, the Taiwanese company that makes many Apple notebooks, has been apparently switching its production to the new tablets…”

The tablets may arrive as early as January (2004 that is), according to Cringely. The users of the device will be able to watch TV in your bathroom, access your audio and video collection from anywhere in the house, route video to the TV screen from your desktop or the Internet, check your mail, surf the web and play games. Kind of like the things we expect te device will have when it is introduced on January 27th. (Source: PBS)

PrintAlmost a year later on August 13, 2004, Tony Smith from The Register reports on a European design trademark filing by Apple for a product name “Electronic Device”. Smith says it’s the long-awaited tablet computer. The patent references several PC tablets so it could finally be the real thing. (Source: The Register)

Another year later on August 24, 2005, Apple posts an ad where they ask for a “Handwriting Recognition Engineer”. Apple believes a tablet should be used with a stylus, since that’s the way to interact with computers. Engadget comments:

“Apple did receive a patent for a tablet-style computer earlier this year and so we wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that one of the reasons they switched to Intel was so they could build an ultralight, ultrathin Tablet Mac.”

Let’s hope the tablet Apple is going to show us the 27th won’t need a stylus. Look at the iPhone and iPod touch. They can easily be controlled by gestures of the user’s hands. (Source: Engadget)

The story continues wit a new rumour on February 2, 2006, where you need to be an alien in order to use the device. The 52-page “Mode-based graphical user interface for touch sensitive input devices” patent filing shows a hybrid tablet/notebook.

Even though there are so many so called clues to the existence of the Apple Tablet, AppleBlog’s Eddie Hargreaves lists the Apple Tablet as one of the “Ten Biggest Apple Rumors That Never Came True”. The post is from May 14, 2007, but the story didn’t end there. (Source: The Apple Blog)

On November 6, 2007, the story is being picked up again and it seems Apple is still thinking about releasing a tablet computer. And they’re working together with Asus? CNET’s Crave reporter Rory Reid says the following during a dinner with some folks from Asus:

“Asus is helping Apple build a Tablet PC. You can bet your bottom dollar it’s being built as you read this. Mac fanboys rejoice.”

Maybe Apple was busy building the device. It takes a lot of time to build something new from scratch. It’s only been a little more than two years ago.

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Anyhow, on January 9, 2008, Fred Vogelstein states “Apple’s hardware engineers had spent about a year working on touchscreen technology for a tablet PC”. It became the iPhone. (Source: Wired)

March 3, 2008, Steve Jobs said “I can’t talk about unannounced products” to New York Times reporter John Markoff, who wanted to know if Apple is busy developing a Newton-like tablet device. (Source: AppleInsider)

And less then a year ago, on April 11, 2009, the Wall Street Journal reports:

“People privy to the company’s strategy say Apple is working on… a portable device that is smaller than its current laptop computers but bigger than the iPhone or iPod touch.”

The WSJ may not be far from the truth, since recent rumours suggest the device might look a lot like an oversized iPod or iPhone. (Source: WSJ)

The rumours are starting to build up to an unstoppable climax. On April 27, 2009, a report from BusinessWeek states the Appel Media Pad is smaller then a Kindle but with a bigger screen. An anonymous source is quoted:

“We are talking about a device where people will say, ‘Damn, why didn’t we do this?’ Apple is probably going to define the damn category.”

The Media Pas was supposed to be launched in Autumn 2009. We’re still waiting. (Source: BusinessWeek)

On May 21, 2009, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster claims there will be no Apple Tablet until mid-2010. Seth Weintraub at ComputerWorld doesn’t like Munster’s claim. He is still very excited and will be surprised if Apple doens’t deliver something by the holidays. Well, he must still be crying. Hopefully he gets very happy again when he sees the mythical device show up at the Media Event this Wednesday. (Source: ComputerWorld)

islateThe reports keep coming and July 21, 2009, is no exception. An interesting report form The Street states that Apple has had a prototype of the device for about a year but is unsure how to market it. The device has a 9-inch to 10-inch screen with a keyboard and will be subsidized by Verizon. They also think the new product will be a total fiscal failure because no one really wants a tablet computer. (Source: The Street)

And this week’s Wednesday it will be precisely six months ago since the Birtains’s Financial Times reported about the following, on July 27, 2009:

“Apple is racing to offer a portable tablet-sized computer in time for the Christmas shopping season, in what the entertainment industry hopes will be a new revolution. The device is expected to be launched alongside new content deals, including some aimed at stimulating sales of CD-length music… the touch-sensitive computer will have a screen that may be up to 10 inches diagonally. It will connect to the internet like the iPod touch – probably without phone capability but with access to the web, and to Apple’s online stores for software and entertainment.”

The price of the device will be around $600-$1000 and will be released in September or October, the rest of the report says. (Source: Financial Times)

The last six months of our journey through time are filled with rumours about the mythical Apple Tablet computer. This journey continues with the rumours I gathered and posted on iTabletFreakz in the last couple of months. Instead of going through the different posts chronologically, I’d like to discuss the different features of the device. I’ve put the different rumours in several categories, ranging from the size of the screen to the actual specs of the device.

The screen size:

Apple Tablet 2On November 29, 2009, iLounge posted a report with some details about Apple latest toy. They claim the screen size will be 10.7-inches diagonally. Most reports talking about the size of the screen estimate it to be 9, 10, or 11 inches big. The most recent report talks about 10-11 inches.

The name:

Although most people use the name iTablet, in December last year MacRumors found out that the name of the device could be iSlate. It was some kind of turning point. People stopped calling the device iTablet and started naming it the iSlate. Still iSlate could be the wrong name as well. Again MacRumor discovered a new piece of evidence that stated the name of Apple’s latest creation will likely be iPad. It’s stil unclear what the name will really be, but there are so many names circling around the web, one of those names must be the right one.

The media event:

Early reports stated the launch date of the Apple Tablet will be during the holidays, but iLounge reported a January 19, 2010 launch date. It was later announced that Apple will hold a media event on three days: January 24, 25 and 26. Not long after, a new report said, a special media event will be held on January 26 and was later confirmed. Apple usually delivers certain events on Tuesdays and the 26th is no exception. However, on January 5, 2010, All Things Digital reported that the event will take place on the 27th of January. This date was eventually officially confirmed by Apple themselves by sending colorful invitations for the media event with the following tag line that got many people even more excited: “come see our latest creation”.

Tech specs:

There are so many rumours about the specs of the device, so I made a list of the most returning rumours below:

  • Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity
  • Camera (yes, no, yes again)
  • LCD and OLED screen with a size ranging from 9-inch to 11-inch
  • P A Semi processor
  • Aluminum casing
  • iPhone OS or Mac OS (or maybe a hybrid between the two)
  • App Store support
  • E-book reader
  • Subsidized by AT&T or Verizon (or other mobile carriers)
  • 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack
  • Bluetooth
  • Built-in speaker grills
  • Microphone
  • GPS (that could be cool, watching TomTom or Navigon on such a big screen)
  • Virtual keyboard (no real one)

tablet hardware + UI mockup

click on image for a larger version

Price of the device:

Personally I don’t want to pay more than $800 for the tablet computer. I’m probably one of the few people who’s prepared to pay more than $600. A survey conducted by Retrevo has shown that only 20% of Microsoft users and 41% of Apple users are willing to pay more than $800. Most people will only buy the device if the price is $600 or less. A more recent survey, also conducted by Retrevo, shows that the statistics have slightly changed. People are now willing to pay more than $600, but not more than $700. No matter how much the tablet can do, Apple has to come up with a really good price to convince people to buy it.

Conclusion:

People can no longer say the device isn’t coming. It’s as clear as it can get. The iTablet, iSlate, iPad or whatever it’s name might be, is going to enter our world with never before seen force. It will shake the world. It will redefine our way of reading newspapers, magazines, cartoons and other print media. Apple will deliver a device so beautiful, you can hardly say no to it.

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One Response to “It Began In 2001, But It Will Really Start In 2010 [Full Report]”

  1. Kriss Says:

    1 more day 2 go ;)

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