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Circular Reasoning
Wednesday, 2009 July 29 - 5:27 pm
There's an increasing problem in the Interwebs these days. It goes something like this.
  • A blogger or small-time web site posts an unsubstantiated rumor or speculation about something (like, say, an Apple "iTablet").
  • A semi-mainstream media outlet, like CNet's news.com, picks up on the rumor, but makes the rumor sound like fact by putting a headline on it like "Apple ready to release iTablet this fall".
  • Executives from companies unrelated to the rumor (like record company execs) read these reports and speculate about the rumored product.
  • Mainstream media outlets publish these quotes as evidence that the rumored product is actually coming to market.
  • Bloggers quote the mainstream media article and now reference the rumor as certainty.
From what I can tell, this is exactly what's happened with this Apple tablet thing. Everyone has assumed that Apple will come out with something like a giant (10-inch) iPod Touch that will be a media player and eBook reader of some sort, and that it will come out late this year or early next year.

Some have even gone ahead and labeled this product a failure. I suppose that would be true if Apple actually came out with a device that matched these rumors precisely; that is to say, if Apple completely lost their marbles and put out a device that makes no practical sense.

A giant iPod Touch makes no sense for many reasons:
  • A backlit 10-inch screen would suck away power like crazy, so unless the thing were packed with expensive lithium batteries, battery life would be horrific.
  • It would be too big and too fragile to be a carry-it-anywhere portable.
  • It would be crippled compared to a laptop when it came to real productivity applications. (You wouldn't want to write your thesis on it.)
  • It couldn't possibly sell for less than a thousand dollars, unless it were subsidized somehow.
Now, I'm sure Apple has some kind of new product in the pipeline. Apple always does. And it's also a safe bet that Apple will want to cash in on the iPod/iPhone/iTunes/AppStore ecosystem that has become their golden goose. But seriously, this iTablet thing... what would you use it for? You wouldn't use it for music or movies at home, when you've already got multiple superior devices for doing that. If you want something mobile, you've already got your iPhone or iPod touch, which is always with you and far more portable. You wouldn't take it with you to the beach to read books. So what, then?

If Apple is going to produce some kind of device in this tweener category, something bigger than an iPhone but smaller than a laptop, I have to believe that they're going to tie it to some service or application to make it compelling. Mobile TV? WiMax? Subscription e-book service? The service will be the real story, not the device.

Oh, and if it does turn out to be something like a giant iPod Touch, I'd hope Apple would be smart enough to put a handle on the thing. The thought of holding a two-pound touch-sensitive glass-covered device by one of its edges is ridiculous.
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Posted by Ken in: bloggerstechwatch

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