Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Will the rumored Apple tablet have the wings to fly?

One of the hot and much debated topics this week has been the Apple Tablet. The number of rumors and the varied sources they come from, all but confirm the imminent launch of an Apple tablet by the beginning of next year. What is more interesting is the debate as to whether the Apple tablet will really fly.

Some of the most intriguing questions raised are
- What is the target market? Well, even worse, is there a target market at all?
- Is it a true tablet or just a giant sized iPod? (Most rumors say it's just a 10" screen iPod)
- What is it's value as a gaming device? Well, a big screen always helps but one that big without any key controls doesn't gel well as a gaming controller.
- What is it's potential as a media device? Again, the big screen helps but well, do you just lay it flat in your lap to watch a movie? Naah!
- What is it's potential as a ebook reader? Well a lot in fact. But then, can't be the killer feature as I wouldn't shell out $500-$600 as compared to $150-$200 for a standard one.
- Biggest question: Is there a killer feature?

Well, I think some of the questions above are genuinely troubling when gauging the prospects of the Apple tablet, esp the question on it's target market. Is it an UMPC (well, the category is almost dead) or is it a gaming tool? Who will buy it? More importantly, when I own an iPhone and a Mac, what more can this tablet do and where does it fit? Well, am sure Apple have answered these questions (atleast to themselves) before crystallizing the idea into a real product. When Apple said it was developing a phone four years back, people had their share of laughter. In fact the major phone companies took no heed till the product was officially demonstrated. And all it took was less than a year for Apple to beat the big guns on their own backyard and become the leading mobile phone (atleast temporarily) in US. All this happened because Apple saw tremendous hidden potential in the mobile market, which was dwindling and losing steam day-by day. In fact, if there's someone who can create a market from plain thin air, I would place my bets on Apple to pull it off.

All said, I must agree that the challenges posed to the Apple tabloid are way too many and way too genuine. Throw in the fact that we are in a recession market and the odds don't look promising for a $600 device. Also to note that Apple has had it's own share of failures in it's long history. Standing examples amongst them are Newton, Lisa and Macintosh Portable. Meanwhile, Some of the products like the Apple TV haven't been runaway successes and have needed years of evolution to reach a refined stage.

In the end, the challenges are many and the prospect aren't outright encouraging. But then, every one of Apple's products (both successes and failures) have been valiant attempts to revolutionize it's target market and the Apple Tablet can be no different. While my perception of the Tablet's prospects is one of cautious optimism, I am more excited to see what is it that Apple really brings to the table. After all, when the world's most innovative company (arguably of course) has got something to show, you can't help but take heed to it!