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Steve Jobs Is Not Magic: An iTablet Reality Check

Nov 17 2009, 5:00am CST | by , in News | Apple

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Steve Jobs Is Not Magic: An iTablet Reality Check
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Hundreds of years ago, back before smartphones and MP3 players and fine malt liquor, all the proto-engineers in the world devoted their lives to crafting something called the Philosopher's Stone. This magical device was capable of transmuting lead into gold and granting everlasting life. At least, that's what the stories said. No one ever built a real, working Philosopher's Stone. They just talked about it for decades and decades.

Now we live amidst the technological splendor of the future. Science has replaced 'guessing real hard' and 'making up stories' and allowed us to glimpse beyond the curtain of reality to reveal the mechanisms by which our world works. As a consequence, we've put down the Philosopher's Stone in order to seek an equally elusive but much shinier product; the Perfect Gadget.

The Perfect Gadget will solve the problem of boredom forever. It will stop you from ever getting lost or spending more than ten minutes without the aid of digital entertainment again. In one slim, sexy package you'll have everything you need to blot out the world or communicate to it. The Perfect the iTablet. Or iPad. Or Apple Tablet. Or, if you like Newton II.

You can call the iTablet whatever you want right now, because it doesn't exist. Not even a little bit. Apple has never confirmed its existence, and no one has ever found concrete, photo evidence of its existence. All of the information we have on this gadget comes from uncorroborated rumors and the speculation of analysts.

Above is a link to a CNN Money article about the iTablet that features a boat-load of analyst speculation. Laura DiDio, of ITIC, claims that this new tablet will be "the next big thing", and that "Apple is going to wow everybody with the tablet."

I'm not sure what DiDio is basing this speculation on, but I can't see a product like the envisioned iTablet 'wow'ing everyone. We are in the middle of a recession. A $600-$1000 tablet that basically works as a 'huge' iPhone isn't going to be a 'must have' gadget. Be honest here; what would you rather have; a brand new, high-end ultraportable notebook or netbook (possibly multitouch capable), or a huge iPod touch?

Both will be able to play high def movies. Both will be Internet capable and portable. Both will be able to function as e-readers. The notebook will also probably be much faster, have more storage space, and probably even possess better battery life (although that could be a toss-up).

"The tablet will change the game, because Apple will throw down the gauntlet at the competitors, and force them to follow along,"

That's another quote from DiDio, and again I'm having trouble seeing what on earth it actually means. How is Apple going to change the game? What does "throwing down the gauntlet" actually mean? Who are they challenging? E-Readers? Ultraportables? Netbooks? PMPs? Or all of the above?

Dan Ackerman, senior editor at CNET, predicts that, "Instead of taking along a Kindle and an iPod, that [tablet] could become the device you carry with you."

I'm sorry, Dan, but I don't see people replacing their tiny, pocket-portable iPod with a 10"-12" tablet. Sure, Apple might get some converts from Kindle people...but the Kindle will probably cost between half as much, and a third as much as an iTablet. Hell, there's a good chance that you'll be able to buy a Kindle and an iPod touch for less than the price of this tablet.

When you try to look at the iTablet speculation from a detached perspective, it's honestly baffling. Analysts and bloggers don't act like this for products from any other company. The iPod line is great, the iPhone is revolutionary, and Macs are nice...but Apple doesn't exactly have a perfect record. (Does no one remember the Pippin?) And there's no evidence, at all, for the iTablet's existence.

In the latter part of the CNN article, one of the analysts even admits that they have no good reasons to believe the iTablet will be the gadget to end all gadgets.

"But then again," adds David Wertheimer of the USC Entertainment Technology Center, "what I can't imagine, Steve Jobs often can,"

And thus the title of this article. Steve Jobs is not magic, folks. He does not have the Philosopher's Stone. He can't take a crappy idea, like a giant iPod touch, and turn it into gold. Jobs can only turn good ideas into gold, and he has too many of those to need to waste his time on products with no market.

I'm not saying there's no such thing as an Apple tablet in development right now. There may be. But if there is, it is going to be absolutely nothing like these predictions are describing it. Look at the Microsoft Courier. If Steve Jobs is building a tablet PC, it had better be at least as innovative and brilliant as that. Do you really want to live in a world where Microsoft is more creative than Apple?

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