The long-rumored Apple iPad, iSlate, iWhateveritsnameis Tablet PC is widely expected to make its debut in San Francisco on Jan. 27. Although Apple has never confirmed that such a device is in the works, many Apple/Mac newsgroups agree that the Apple Tablet is imminent. Steve Jobs has recently been overheard and quoted as stating that the Apple Tablet may be the “most important thing I ever do” that further ignites these rumors and newsgroup speculation.
Many Apple newsgroup subscribers agree that Apple wants to change the way television, news, and books are distributed once and for all, and it’s going to use its soon to be unveiled tablet to try and do it. It already has seen this success with both the iPod becoming THE mp3 player of choice, not to mention the grand army of iPhone aficionados. With an Apple tablet, it may finally put the nail in the coffin as the mobile computing device of choice for many.
Lots of guesses are being put forward as a name: iTablet, iSlate, iPad. If it is the latter, Apple has a quick fight to the finish line to win. Whilst a company called Slate Computing — thought to be a front company for Apple — registered the iPad trademark in Canada, Europe and Hong Kong in July last year, Fujitsu still owns the iPad trademark for handheld computing in the U.S., although appeared less than committed to keeping it. Apple has now filed three petitions to extend the deadline to February 28 to take the name away from Fujitsu. Apple has until that date to submit evidence it is the rightful owner of the iPad trademark.
Unique to USENET newsgroups, mac newsgroups have been posting that this would not be the first time Steve Jobs attempted such a thing. Mac communities in nearby parallel universes have been playing with Apple tablets since the Reagan administration. The tablet was called “Bashful,” in reference to the dwarf in the fairy tale Snow White. Bashful was created alongside the Apple extension of the Snow White industrial-design language that Apple used from 1984 to 1990. This past week, Frog Design released pictures of the “Bashful” tablet, which was on the drawing boards in 1983, but never made it to the shipping stage. The Bashful looks like the top half of a PowerBook Duo combined with a keyboard stolen from an Apple IIc; a stylus rounded out the Bashful’s user interface. Variations of the Bashful tablet included one with an attached keyboard and one with a floppy-disk drive and a handle for portability. Some of the tablet prototypes included a stylus. And one concept even had an attached phone. Unfortunately, we’ll never know how the Bashful would have done on the market; Steve Jobs was more interested in another computer called the “Macintosh” at the time, and relations between Apple and Frog Design broke down when Jobs left Apple in 1985.
No matter what form it finally takes, an Apple tablet is likely to have a drastic impact on the media world. Apple’s vision is supposedly of a tablet in every home—a shared device between family members that allow them to quickly check their e-mail or read the news. The device, which will sport a virtual keyboard, could have virtual sticky notes to leave for other family members or user identification using the device’s built-in camera. Although it’s unclear whether these features will make it into the final product, they do seem to have a family-oriented focus. The company has also been working with EA to show off the tablet’s gaming potential. No word on what applications will be able to run with it or if it will even be running an existing OS X operating system. Because of the lack of details of both the software as well as what capabilities of storage leaves little to speculate about a possible compatible newsgroup newsreader for the device.