Someone else said it first: Not since Moses descended from Mt. Sinai has the world
been as interested in a new tablet.
A "mobile analytics" firm, Flurry, based in San Francisco, reported
on January 24, 2010 that "approximately 50 devices" which
could be the Apple tablet were being used on Apple's Cupertino, California,
campus. According to Peter Farago, Flurry's marketing vice president, the device
signatures of the units were different from Apple's iPhone, and the devices were
not leaving the campus, making things seem very hush-hush. The Flurry report says
the bulk of applications for the device were entertainment-centered.
While the world will know soon enough how correct such reporting is, there are two
things that will, I believe, be abundantly clear about any tablet device Apple puts
The first is that applications will drive the thing. The second is that content will
drive the applications.
Consider the iPhone, from whose loins the tablet may spring. The 133,00 iPhone
applications now available from the iTunes AppStore , launched in 2008 with
just 500 programs, are truly what has propelled the device into the stratosphere.
Ditto for the iPod Touch, which can run many of the same iPhone applications.
Whether its personal finance (Mint), or shopping (Grocery Gadget) or travel
(TripIt), you can load something onto the iPhone that helps make life easier. I've
sung Mint's praises before; it's a great way to keep on top of your bank and
credit card accounts. Grocery Gadget Pro is a good shopping list program, albeit one
that costs $4.99.
TripIt's free application and Web site (www.tripit.com), lets you enter your
travel plans and see your schedule at a glance; it's a help when dashing through
an airport and trying to find what your next flight is supposed to be. However, it
doesn't automatically update when, as happened to me last week, a flight is
canceled and you're rebooked. To get such updates, the TripIt folks want you to
spend $70/year for their premium service, something that might make sense for truly
Ironically, I've found one of the best apps for the iPhone to be Amazon.com's
Kindle software, which allows users to buy and read Kindle-formatted eBooks on the
iPhone, even without owning a Kindle device. It's not perfect - there's still
a need to go to, say, chapter-and-verse when reading a book set up in chapters and
verses - but it's not bad overall. The irony, of course, is that the Apple
tablet may encroach on Kindle e-reader sales.
Which leads to the question of content. If I can read everything, or most
everything, that I want on this device, and do so easily at various type sizes, and
do it affordably, Apple could have on its hands the kind of mega-hit it is
accustomed to producing.
Key will be how it handles data communications. If all you can do is link to the
Internet via WiFi, then its usefulness may be limited. If it also has a cellular
data link, and an all-you-can-eat data plan, then so much the better; nirvana
But if the speculation is correct, that Apple CEO Steve Jobs wants to change the way
we consume media, old and new, then the anticipated Apple tablet could do amazing
things. If Peyton Manning were a tech CEO, he'd probably be Steve Jobs. (And if
Steve Jobs were a quarterback, I'd pray that Dan Snyder signed him for the
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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.