Monday, August 24, 2009

I want...

Steve Jobs's new trick: the Apple tablet

Apple is reportedly poised to launch a tablet computer – small enough to carry in a handbag or briefcase but big enough to comfortably surf the web, read newspapers and watch films. It could be Apple's latest billion-dollar jackpot.

Apple product launches are celebrated rituals where the talismanic Jobs, in black sweater and jeans, stands on a stage in San Francisco and unveils the company's latest innovation, cheered by adulatory crowds with near religious fervour. The Californian giant has sold more 200 million iPods since their launch in 2001.

Famously secretive, Apple has refused to comment on the tablet speculation. But Tim Cook, its chief operating officer, recently hinted that the company was working on something "very innovative". Jobs – now back at work after a six-month leave of absence following a liver transplant – is thought to have been personally involved in the development of the device over the past two years.

The tablet is rumoured to be any size and scale between the iPhone and the MacBook laptop. Some have described the tablet as a "Kindle-killer", potentially usurping the Amazon Kindle and other electronic book readers. It would be billed as a solution for people who work a lot on the move but don't want to carry a laptop. What experts believe would set the tablet apart would be that, instead of a keyboard, it would use a touch-sensitive screen. Kahney said: "Apple will totally rejig the computing experience. You won't manipulate a keyboard and mouse any more but rather use an intuitive touchscreen. It will very tactile. It will be a whole new paradigm."

It might also prove the launchpad for an "iTunes for newspapers", allowing commuters to read news on screen instead of in print. Even magazines might be reproduced convincingly on the high-resolution screen. Kahney said: "Instead of reading a review of a band, you could have audio and video embedded and listen to them and watch them being interviewed."

He estimated that an Apple tablet, with an onscreen keyboard like the iPhone, would cost around $600 (£363), putting it between the highest-end iPod Touch at $399 and the MacBook, which starts at $999. At $600, Munster calculated that sales of 2 million tablets could add $1.2bn (£727m) to Apple's sales next year.

From Media Guardian

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