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The Next Big Thing: The Apple iPad

By fury in Technology
Fri May 25, 2001 at 12:39:13 PM EST
Tags: Hardware (all tags)

At least five times in the past 10 years engineers at Apple have worked on initiatives to bring a full-sized tablet-based computer to market. Though the previous four attempts never saw the light of day, Apple has saved the best for last.

This July: Meet iPad.

The Apple iPad:

  • Tablet: 11.5" x 9" x 0.7"
  • 12" 1024x768 LCD touch- and stylus-sensitive screen
  • No keyboard or mouse (optional attachment via USB)
  • USB port
  • Dual speakers and headphone jack
  • Internal HD
  • 5-hour battery life and charging cradle
  • Airport wireless connectivity
  • 2-3 lbs
  • $999

The following is a work of intensive research and, ultimately, speculation. It does not consist of leaked information, nor does it purport to be a rumor. Instead it is a predictive analysis based on past Apple research initiatives, Apple's current marketing strategies, and recent product and technology positioning. This is an inferential assessment of a likely direction for the Macintosh platform. If the legality of any of the referenced information is questioned by Apple, it should be made clear that this article is not a derivative work from that information, and is not affected by any restrictions on that information.

I. Introduction

Since Steve Jobs retook the helm at Apple, the products, technologies, and media campaigns that have emerged have presented a much more holistic marketing front. Like a general coordinating the actions of several fronts for maximum effect, Jobs has taken care to position new products and initiatives to pave the way for the next. In short, Jobs thinks several steps ahead, and executes accordingly. Events, both over the last year, and going back as far as 1987, are coming to a head, which will likely result in the release of the iPad at Macworld Expo New York this July.

II. The 'original' Newton

In 1987 Apple (specifically, Bill Atkinson and John Sculley) made a speculative video about the 'knowledge navigator,' a portable device with full motion color video, voice recognition, and wireless data connectivity. Though the technology was not available to realize this vision, Atkinson instead wrote HyperCard, realizing several of the software goals he envisioned for the navigator. Four years later Michael Tchao, an Apple marketing specialist, approached then CEO John Scully and pitched what would eventually become the Newton MessagePad. At the time, Apple was already investigating the prospect of pen-based interfaces; in fact the "Newton" as originally envisioned and being worked on at the time by an advance technologies group led by Larry Tesler, was for a wireless pad with handwriting recognition -- that would cost a projected $8000. (From "Defying Graviity (sic)", 1993)

III. The 'public' Newton

Fast-forward two years to the Newton MessagePad's release in the summer of 1993. Apple launched a marketing campaign bigger than any in its history to that point. The Newton was going to revolutionize the way people worked. Scully claimed that 'personal digital assistants,' or PDAs, terms coined by the Newton marketing team, would eventually have a $3.5 trillion market. In the end, the Newton was a technological marvel and a media disaster.

The core problem was marketing and sales. In 1993 there were three ways to inform the public about your product: Point-of-purchase information, advertising, and media attention. Moreover, you had to be good at at least two of them for your product to be successful. Apple poured money into advertising and point-of-purchase kiosks. They seeded Netwons to journalists, artists, and other celebrities, thinking that anyone who touched one would love it. (This worked very well with the original Mac 128K.) Unfortunately the expectations of engineers and devotees differed greatly from those of the average user, and the MessagePad's lackluster ParaGraph handwriting recognition became the focus of media attention.

A revised and greatly improved recognizer, dubbed 'Rosetta,' came too late to save the Messagepad. The Dante Newton OS 2.0 release was a huge leap forward, but it came at a time when Apple wasn't certain whether to market the device as a vertical or horizontal solution, and wasn't as committed to making a PR disaster work as it was two years earlier. Despite long-time rumblings from within Newton and in the developer community about the creation of a Newton Slate, it was never to be. Two months after being spun off as its own company by Gil Amelio, Newton was brought back into the fold and killed by Jobs shortly after assuming the i-CEO role.

IV. Hancock: The Mac tablet that never was.

An even greater victim of the media's response to Apple's handwriting recognition engine was Hancock. For several years prior to the Messagepad's release, Apple engineers were working on a MacOS (System 7) based tablet computer. Using the PowerBooks Duo's architecture as a base, Hancock was to be a 3-4 lb tablet computer with handwriting recognition incorporated into the operating system (MacWEEK, circa December 1993). In early 1994 the project had gone far enough that Apple was soliciting developers to be development hardware seed sites, but the project was scrapped shortly thereafter because the negative media attention surrounding the Newton made the acceptance of a tablet-based Mac seem unlikely.

Fast-forwarding several years, several market and conditions have changed drastically. Wireless connectivity is now a standard option on the entire Apple line. Later-generation PDAs have acclimated people to either tolerating handwriting recognition, using specialized entry methods such as graffiti, or typing on on-screen soft-keyboards. Most importantly, fabrication techniques have driven costs and sizes much lower. The time is right for the iPad.

V. The Road to iPad

From a marketing strategy standpoint, Apple's actions of the past 18 months seem to be paving the way for the iPad. Prior to the 2000 MWNY, the public expressed a lack of options with the four-product grid (iMac, iBook, Power Mac, PowerBook), and so the Cube was unveiled, widening the grid to 5 (or, as many say, 6 with a midrange portable member in absentia). This led to a rash of 'CubeBook' rumors circling in the months and weeks before MWSF in January 2001. The idea was that Apple was going to release a subnotebook, smaller and lighter than the existing G3 PowerBook, to fill the broad gulf between the iBook and the G3 PowerBook (Pismo). Instead Apple delivered the G4 Titanium PowerBook to replace Pismo on the high end, and we would have to wait another four months before getting the iBook dual-usb, a machine that, despite the iBook moniker, resembled the CubeBook rumors (down to the clear-on-pearl finish) more than it did the iBook that it displaced.

For those who live and die by Apple's product grid for predicting hardware moves, this led to confusion, as there was no room between the new iBook and the PBTi for another machine. Indeed, it seems that Apple intentionally closed the gap between the two. Unlike the original iBook, its replacement wouldn't seem out of place in the office or the briefcase. Effectively, aside from the name and targeting the educational market, Apple moved the iBook over one spot, from the low- to mid-range portable product spot, like a tile puzzle with one tile missing, only that void was now in the low-end mobile square.

Unlike the Newton's rollout in 1993, Apple has over the last four years honed its marketing machine to the point where it has a much greater control over transmission of the message. The web is now a primary information source for potential buyers, and Apple has spared no expense in spreading its message clearly and effectively, both through the Apple site and QuickTime streaming of Apple events and keynote speeches. Just as important, Apple has made huge expenditures to control the point-of-sale as well. After failed attempts to control the sale environment at department stores like Sears and Best Buy, Apple took it a step further with the CompUSA store-within-a-store initiative, the Apple Online Store, and most recently with the Apple Retail Stores. Apple's goal is to ensure that anyone who wants to find out more about Apple products can do so in an informed environment, without relying on salespeople who may be ignorant of the product line, concerned with commissions, or who hold windows-centric views. It's not unreasonable to speculate that if Apple had these marketing vehicles in place when the Newton was first released, it could hold the spot as the front-running PDA (though there were other problems involving Apple's lack of willingness to scale the Newton down to smaller sizes, that really fall outside this article).

VI. The Marketing Rationale

This leaves the biggest question: Who would buy an iPad? The iPad's target market would be different than any of its failed predecessors. It would be targeted as the perfect addition to an already computer-enabled home, office, or school. With Airport connectivity it would be ready to network with other modern Mac (or even PC) environments with 802.11 networks. Existing Mac users without Airport would only need to buy a $99 card for their existing Mac, or a base module for their home or office. The iPad would be your computer away from your computer. While most computers require you to work around them, sitting at a desk or table, typing and mousing with both hands, the iPad is the thing you could have on your lap when you're watching TV and responding to email, carrying on an instant-message conversation, or making dinner with recipes from the web. The more we use computers for information acquisition, the less we type, and the more appropriate pen- and touch-based systems are.

Unlike the Audrey, the iPaq terminal, or other forays into inexpensive information appliances, the iPad wouldn't be dumbed down. It will not be positioned as the computer for people who don't think they're ready for a computer, but instead as the appliance for people who are looking for a second computer.

This is an important distinction: Since Apple has been touting both the PowerBook and iBook as all-in-one solutions, there is less and less incentive to purchase both a desktop and a mobile Macintosh. Palm computing recently announced that their quarterly sales would fall 50% below previous estimates, and this is largely because existing Palm owners don't feel that there is enough incentive to buy a new one. $300-$450 is a lot to spend to get a better screen, a thinner palm, or an expansion slot. Similarly, computer sales are slowing industry-wide because the cost of replacement isn't justified by the added functionality. The iPad would be a boost to Apple's sales because an iPad sale wouldn't come at the expense of the sale of another Apple CPU.

VII: Meet the iPad

So what would go into this technological marvel? First off, it will run Mac OS X. Rather than forcing the user to learn something new (we mock what we do not understand, hence the demise of MagicLink, Audrey, AT&T's EO, et cetera) or use a platform which still standardizes on smaller screen sizes (Palm, WinCE), it will be a Mac through and through. To save on size, and to firm its position as a secondary device, it won't have a CD-ROM drive bay, relying on a networked computer or external USB device for software installation. This isn't the first time Apple's done this (Duo, Comet, PowerBook 100), so it's not wading into uncharted territory. It is likely that the device would have facility for a net-boot option, to recover if something happened to the internal boot volume. Though downplayed, USB devices could still be used to make this a regular computer. Plug in the USB keyboard and mouse, place the iPad on its charging stand, and you would have a respectable desktop machine. Unplug USB and lift it out of the charging cradle and you have a tablet Mac.

Firewire is doubtful, not just to cut down on expense, but to increase the difference between an iPad and iBook or iMac. USB can satisfy most of the iPad needs. An internal modem would be probable, though on-board Ethernet is unlikely. The general motif here would be to include minimal functionality for networking, dialup, peripherals, etc, but without the higher-end or redundant functionality reserved for higher-end machines. The PC-card slot could go either way. The iBook doesn't have one, causing problems for Ricochet or CDPD-based wireless users. It's certainly possible that the iPad would have a PC-card slot, but I would doubt it, again citing Apple's desire to not cannibalize other Mac sales.

While you would use your PowerBook to write a paper in the library, you would use your iPad to sketch notes in class. Where you could print out reference material like recipes and maps from a desktop Mac, you could bring the iPad with you to the kitchen or the car (with a passenger doing the navigating, hopefully). As portable as the iBook and other notebooks are, there are so many times when it's too much trouble to open it, balance and type at anything but a table. With an iPad you'd leave the computer desk behind completely.

VIII: The Time is Now

As for the timing, Apple finally has its ducks in a row. Apple again has positive momentum as an innovator in the press. The market is ready for the device, and Microsoft has recently announced a team working on producing exactly such a device, anticipated in mid-2002, with a price tag of between $2-3000, legitimizing the market, especially at a $1000 price-point (interesting side note: Microsoft made a similar announcement last year, but anticipated that the device would run WinCE, not XP). Where Apple's industrial engineering was, for many years, better at exterior design than interior efficiency, the current PowerBooks and the Cube prove that Apple is technically capable of building a device with the dimensions stated above. Without a keyboard, trackpad, or extra layer of exterior skin needed for a hinged PowerBook, the Titanium would be a third of an inch thinner. Without these items, a CD-ROM drive, a hinged architecture, external video, hardwired ethernet, second USB port, or firewire port, an iPad could sell for $300 less than an iBook, dropping to $800 within 12 months.

There is one more reason why the iPad will be launched in July: It will be Apple's killer OS X app. One OS X feature that has gone relatively unheralded in recent weeks is the ability to run OS X as either a terminal server or a thin client. Practically, this means that any OS X computer could act as a thin client for any other OS X computer on the web, merely acting as a screen and input device. Used in this fashion, an iPad would be a 'portable monitor and touchpad' for a dominant Mac. An iPad user wouldn't have to worry about mounting Appleshare volumes, syncing files, or installing software in multiple locations. This functionality, though possible before using tools such as Timbuktu or PCanywhere, is streamlined in OS X's Unix environment. It blurs the line between a computer and an appliance, and it shows the power of OS X at a very attractive price point. By introducing a new line of hardware that takes such unique advantage of OS X's new capabilities, Apple is proving the value of the new platform, while at the same time requiring users to upgrade their existiing dominant machine to OS X to take advantage of it, fulfilling Apple's essential goal of moving the platform to the new OS which, as any WWDC attendee can tell you, is imperative to convince Mac developers to release OS X native applications as soon as possible.

This is an evolving story, and as such this is a living document. In coming weeks more data will undoutably come out. When it does, check http://fury.com/ipad for the latest news and rumors. If you have more info, post it here on K5 and/or email me at hello@fury.com


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o speculativ e video
o knowledge navigator
o ParaGraph handwriting recognition
o media attention
o Rosetta
o Newton Slate
o killed
o Duo
o tablet-bas ed Mac
o CubeBook
o CubeBook rumors
o replacemen t
o tile puzzle
o Apple site
o Apple Online Store
o Apple Retail Stores
o ignorant of the product line
o concerned with commissions
o hold windows-centric views
o failed
o predecesso rs
o iPaq terminal
o dumbed down
o recently announced
o Mac OS X
o MagicLink
o AT&T's EO
o Palm
o WinCE
o Comet
o PowerBook 100
o net-boot
o Ricochet
o CDPD-based
o recently announced [2]
o similar announcement
o thin client
o portable monitor and touchpad
o http://fur y.com/ipad
o hello@fury .com
o Also by fury

Display: Sort:
The Next Big Thing: The Apple iPad | 81 comments (44 topical, 37 editorial, 0 hidden)
How to use kuro5hin (1.89 / 19) (#11)
by bittur on Thu May 24, 2001 at 08:56:55 AM EST

I have to admit that I'm guilty of shamelessly promoting my website on kuro5hin, but I also try to respect the sensibilities of the other users by putting my comments (or marketing) within the context of something relevant.

It begs the question: should kuro5hin have a section where there's nothing but shameless pitches and leave the rest of the site untainted by this kind of hype?

a place to pitch (2.00 / 7) (#20)
by ikarus on Thu May 24, 2001 at 11:27:11 AM EST

at the risk of promoting myself: if you've got a project to pitch do it at kakkune.com.

[ Parent ]
but within k5? (2.20 / 5) (#48)
by bittur on Fri May 25, 2001 at 12:15:16 AM EST

That's cool ... I'll use it as soon as I get a chance.

However, I'm proposing that we get a section going within K5 that very clearly identifies shameless promotion of products, sites or events.

[ Parent ]
Promotion.. (4.00 / 3) (#49)
by driph on Fri May 25, 2001 at 12:27:22 AM EST

As long as the shameless promotion of whatever you are shamelessly promoting is relevant and well written, I don't see why there is anything wrong with it. The Hal2001 submission currently in the queue is a good example... It's something that readers might want to know, it's informative, and it's not pure marketspeak. I don't see what the big deal is.

Wanton pasting of copy from the ad department probably won't make it out of the queue; shameless promotion or not, if it's a good writeup and beneficial to the community, why not? If ya like the article, vote it up, if ya don't, dump it.

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]

But would anyone go there? (none / 0) (#77)
by presGrant on Tue May 29, 2001 at 12:25:58 AM EST

The idea of people promoting things in their posts really doesn't offend me as long as it is somewhat relevant.

To the point of a seperate section, would anyone really use this other section? Yes, people wanting to promote something would, but would people just browse the section like they do Kuro5hin.org now? At the very beginning this section could be very useful, but as time goes on, and Kuro5hin.org grows, this section would grow to an area of useless garbage.

[ Parent ]
Wait a minute.... SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM (1.72 / 29) (#14)
by Nitesurfer on Thu May 24, 2001 at 09:38:59 AM EST

How is this any better? Or is it a matter of different standards ( i.e. crush the little guys and expose the big ones) ? This reads as an Advertisement..... Shoot they did not even post a link to where it came from or who the original author is.

And the deragotories mine received.... like someone wanting to pee on my head.

Why is this still in the queue?

David Byrd

CEO --- Twenty First Century Technologies, Inc.
Home of the Nite-Surfer Illuminated Keyboard

Maybe we should give him a chance (1.90 / 10) (#15)
by Nitesurfer on Thu May 24, 2001 at 09:41:55 AM EST

Well I went to his site.... he is not that bad.... He is a BUFFY fan.

David Byrd

CEO --- Twenty First Century Technologies, Inc.
Home of the Nite-Surfer Illuminated Keyboard

[ Parent ]
Hey (4.00 / 7) (#16)
by Defect on Thu May 24, 2001 at 10:42:41 AM EST

First off, learn the difference between editorial and topical comments, we don't want inane comments littering the story when it gets beyond the queue. Secondly, with respect to "Maybe we should give him a chance," i'm sure most the people weren't taking your initial comment to heart, as the article is still here.

Third, get a grip, you're story was blatant, worthless spam, it deserved to be shot down; this story has an extreme amount of merit, from the history to intelligent speculation. And finally, for purporting to be a CEO of (what i assume you imagine to be) a worthy company, you act like a whiny little shit. Grow up.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
[ Parent ]
Wait a minute... (3.62 / 8) (#28)
by Foolish Assistant on Thu May 24, 2001 at 01:06:14 PM EST

have you ever met a CEO that wasn't, deep down, just a whiny little shit? I know I haven't.

A masochist and a pyromaniac meet in a forest....well, you know the rest.
[ Parent ]

I don't get it... (3.75 / 4) (#58)
by Office Girl the Magnificent on Fri May 25, 2001 at 04:23:56 PM EST

This guy doesn't work for Apple. He works for Yahoo, if his UI is to be beleived. And just because he referenced his own website -- in an endnote, I might add -- doesn't mean that the purpose of the article is self-promotion. If you check out his comments, you can see that fury has been participating in K5 discussions for a while. That's the major difference -- he's not selling the product that this is about, and he didn't register a nick just to post this article.

Sorry I came down so hard on you. But this is very different from your article -- which is why it came all the way to FP.

"If you stay, Infinite might try to kill you. If you leave, the FBI definitely will. And if you keep yelling, I might do it myself."
[ Parent ]

Most importantly: (4.75 / 4) (#67)
by Ludwig on Sat May 26, 2001 at 12:07:55 AM EST

The product that this story is supposedly "promoting" does not exist (as far as we know.) The poster is simply speculating about the direction of one company's product line, albeit in minute detail.

And I don't think Apple would feel the need to resort to guerilla marketing tactics such as posting thinly-veiled hype on discussion boards to drum up an advance buzz for whatever they're announcing at MWNY.

[ Parent ]

Why not? (2.50 / 4) (#69)
by darthaggie on Sat May 26, 2001 at 10:27:52 AM EST

And I don't think Apple would feel the need to resort to guerilla marketing tactics such as posting thinly-veiled hype on discussion boards to drum up an advance buzz for whatever they're announcing at MWNY.

Why not? it's cheaper than spraypainting sidewalks.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Always one for anything Apple... (3.50 / 10) (#21)
by nitefall on Thu May 24, 2001 at 11:46:32 AM EST

I am always one for anything Apple... The Mac is my personal platform of choice. I suppose I am a bit baised.

I loved the Newton, and used one for years, from the 100, to the 110, 130, 2000, and 2001. I have only recently converted to Palm OS. (Simply due to size, not capability.)

I think this could provoke an interesting discussion regarding Apple and it's possible future in the PDA type market. I truly suspect that Apple is out of the PDA game, with no intention of getting back in.

However Steve Jobs "Digital Hub" concept may just lend itself to a new Apple branded PDA.

I would like to see more of the Newton technology (in my opinion the best handwriting recognition out there)

I would like to see this make it out of the queue.

Gesture UI? (4.37 / 8) (#37)
by driph on Thu May 24, 2001 at 04:43:00 PM EST

What would fit perfectly with an iPad or any other tablet-based computer is an optional gesture-based interface, similar to that introduced by Opera in their browser, or Lionhead within Black & White. This would be ideal for direct onscreen interaction. Hunting down buttons using a stylus(or finger) on a screen that throughout use would be manipulated from a myriad of angles could be quite cumbersome and even difficult for the novice user, where as once the basics of the gesture system were learned, a user could zip through webpages and documents with an offhand gesture(sprials, reverse hooks, etc) anywhere on the screen surface itself.

Know of any other developers working with gesturing? Has this been incorporated into any of the current or planned tablet systems?

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave

Penpoint (4.00 / 4) (#42)
by cei on Thu May 24, 2001 at 06:55:37 PM EST

I don't know about current or planned tablets, but tablets from about 10 years ago used gestures. Do a google search on PenPoint from the Go Corporation.

One link (here) from 1991 says...

With the advent of pen-computing, we are beginning to see linking as a fundamental operating system and user interface component. In GO's PenPoint operating system, any selection in any notebook page can be linked to a selection on another page through the means of a simple pen gesture. The ability to create and follow links with a mere gesture creates a new level of accessibility to hypertext.

[ Parent ]
I love Opera! (2.60 / 5) (#46)
by Luke Francl on Thu May 24, 2001 at 10:11:57 PM EST

Opera is the best browser in the world, bar none. The gestures make it even better! At my student job I used Opera as my main web brower. I really, really miss the gestures. Especially the "close window" gesture. No more going all the way to the corner...

Having gestures with web browsing makes total sense, because the web is a very mouse-orient medium (click, click, click). The less you have to hit the keyboard, the more enjoyable the experience is.

[ Parent ]
I have a palm!!! (2.33 / 6) (#53)
by pallex on Fri May 25, 2001 at 12:53:57 PM EST

"What would fit perfectly with an iPad or any other tablet-based computer is an optional gesture-based interface, similar to that introduced by Opera in their browser, or Lionhead within Black & White."

They could call it Graffiti perhaps?

[ Parent ]
Graffiti (3.66 / 3) (#60)
by driph on Fri May 25, 2001 at 04:53:46 PM EST

They could call it Graffiti perhaps?
I don't have a Palm, so I'm only vaguely familiar with Graffiti, but can you use it to bypass buttons and actually navigate the PDA? I thought Graffit was basically just shorthand for the writing recognition...

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
Graffiti (3.66 / 3) (#62)
by the becoming on Fri May 25, 2001 at 09:36:27 PM EST

I have a Palm Vx, and I use Graffiti to perform a number of system functions - Copy & Paste, open a new memo, etc. It's not as advanced as it might be, but it's certainly a good place to start when it comes to gesture-based navigation.

If Apple were to come up with something like this, they would be wise to include support for various gesture protocols - for example, writing into it with Palm Graffiti would be a good idea, because it would allow people to switch over to it easier. If they came up with something like the poster describes, and it has good handwriting recognition/Graffiti support, I'd almost certainly buy one.

[ Parent ]

OT: Gesture software for Windows (2.66 / 3) (#65)
by yannick on Fri May 25, 2001 at 11:32:53 PM EST

I know this is rather OT, but you can get gesture-recognition software that works under MSWindows from Sensiva for free.

Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with Sensiva. I'm just a happy user.
"Hello, World" 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

Here, Here. (further off topic) (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun May 27, 2001 at 04:05:41 AM EST

Another happy user.

I've been using Sensiva for a while now. It is quite easy to extend the library of gestures for any and all programs. I don't like gesturing letters with a mouse though, to complicated; now if I had a pen interface... with a wheel and a couple of buttons would be perfect.

[ Parent ]
Old hat (4.00 / 2) (#68)
by cpt kangarooski on Sat May 26, 2001 at 02:59:02 AM EST

You should see if you can get ahold of a Newton long enough to play with it. It had a few gestures already iirc, and the basic idea was well known. The most notable was of course rapidly scratching back and forth in a zigzag over an object to erase it.

All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
strokes, not gestures (3.00 / 1) (#74)
by alprazolam on Sun May 27, 2001 at 07:36:18 PM EST

Mentor Graphics corporation has been using this in their schematic capture and PCB layout tools for years. You have a predefined set of about 20 strokes you can draw with the middle mouse button. You can select with the left button, and then copy, copy multiple, rename, modify, etc, etc by drawing a line or C or whatever. Drawing a ? pops up a help file for strokes. Overall I would say it saves me 0.5-1.0 hours for every 8 I spend working on schematics. It's an incredibly intuitive interfaces, and unfortunately the only thing MGC has managed to get right in their software.

[ Parent ]
so what (3.10 / 10) (#38)
by alprazolam on Thu May 24, 2001 at 04:45:39 PM EST

I guess it's because I use computers often (duh) but I just don't see what is so hot about this product. You suggest (seems to me anyway) that because you can synch up with a desktop mac people will want these. Are you suggesting that with wireless networks or whatever it can replace the traditional client server setup? Or that people will rather have these than laptops because it's easier to write than type? Or just as a new (very expensive) input device? What kind of hard drive would have to be in this thing for it to be worthwhile? It's not that I don't think this is plausible, or even neat, I just don't think this is going to be that great as a killer app for OS X...not like graphic artists are going to use a stylus to do their work...

Oh wow, actually... (4.25 / 4) (#40)
by driph on Thu May 24, 2001 at 05:16:51 PM EST

Oh shit, I hadn't even thought about that! Current art tablets with a screen allowing you to view your artwork as you draw are very expensive... Something like an iPad would be ideal for graphic artists, with a much lower entry fee.

Wow, if this thing becomes a reality, with decent stylus sensitivity and a fully featured Mac OS, I am sold. Imagine using the device to develop initial design sketches or layouts, or using it as a paper replacement for field work or life drawing, or working with a client on a site plan or interface... I want one.

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]

Hrm (3.00 / 2) (#71)
by delmoi on Sun May 27, 2001 at 02:46:11 AM EST

I can do that on my em500... although the screen is just a couple of inches :P
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Throw in a DVD drive (3.85 / 7) (#44)
by weirdling on Thu May 24, 2001 at 07:05:04 PM EST

And I'm there. Make it capable of playing DVDs, receiving tv, put in a firewire port, and I'll buy two.
Seriously, the killer portable app, the one that could sell millions of these things is enough storage to hold video, a firewire port, and a DVD drive. People would happily pay $2k or more for such capability, compared to what they pay for a not-so-convenient Pizmo these days, being as how you have to open the thing to use it, meaning it has to be set on something rather than slinging at your side...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
That would be the PowerPad then... (4.00 / 1) (#73)
by hattig on Sun May 27, 2001 at 12:08:51 PM EST

Interesting article, however the author is placing this device as the low end version of the iBook and PowerBook:

PC: iMac Cube PowerMac
Mobile: iPad iBook PowerBook

Whereas I believe that the matrix wouid be:

PC: iMac Cube PowerMac
Mobile: iBook - PowerBook
Pad: iPad - PowerPad

Notice that there is no equivalent Mobile or Pad for the Cube - the Cube is a bit of a renegade device anyway!

My first post on K5 for nearly a year now I think.

[ Parent ]

that is IF they make a powerpad (none / 0) (#75)
by Justinfinity on Sun May 27, 2001 at 09:19:26 PM EST

fury speculates that the iPad is going to be marketed as a companion computer, a secondary machine.

if you want the DVD player and all that jazz, apple wants you to buy a powerbook


if this is all a dream, please, don't wake me
Got Water?
Money sucks

[ Parent ]
DVD playing via X-style client (none / 0) (#78)
by bonoboy on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 05:51:11 PM EST

If this iPad had the kind of tools you can already get with a simple X-Hosts file under linux, you can already send a windowing system to another device. Thus, with decent network connectivity (I'm really praying for something better than 11 megabits here) you've got yourself a DVD player already.

Let's not forget this is unix we're talking about. Interoperability is number one, and this stuff is already possible. Now all we need is a *fully qualified* version of OS X for x86 and this puppy instantly becomes the ultimate client for any window streamer.

On a sidenote, the main reason I'm currently looking at PDAs is that I spend a great deal of time in a data centre. Laptops are far too heavy and cumbersome to be highly useful or easy, and I'd really rather have something with a decent terminal emulator and (ideally) fast ethernet so I can wander around doing all this. The closest thing at the moment seems to be a Nokia 9110 for number of features per price. The whole phone/pda dilemma is one that's probably going to make companies like Apple reticent to enter the market with a small PDA (since it would be underfeatured compared to the phones of similar sizes everyone's expecting) and make this iPad idea perfect for them. Bring it on!

[ Parent ]
Neat idea but I think they will provide something (3.42 / 7) (#50)
by yuri on Fri May 25, 2001 at 12:34:30 AM EST

So how is this device better than an ibook? It isn't! Price would be similar and functionality would be less. I think they need a real digital hub solution. How about an airport enabled "digital hub" that you plug into your stereo that allows you to wirelessly stream your MP3's collection or internet radio stations/audio to your stereo. Perhaps they could just build this capability into their basestation. What would be the best is a wireless TIVO knockoff that adds the internet audio connection to your stereo and can get files from your existing computers harddrive as well as its own.

A tablet computer will be more useful once home automation can be readily controlled by it...or videophone tech gets commonplace...not for a while.

Great article though! +1 FP

wow. (2.00 / 9) (#54)
by Shren on Fri May 25, 2001 at 01:17:29 PM EST

that's awfully specific system specs for your guesswork.

You're surprised? (1.75 / 8) (#55)
by darthaggie on Fri May 25, 2001 at 01:32:19 PM EST

It reads like an Apple press release...
...no, I'm not cynical, not all...

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]
he says this: (1.80 / 5) (#63)
by Shren on Fri May 25, 2001 at 10:15:48 PM EST

The following is a work of intensive research and, ultimately, speculation. It does not consist of leaked information, nor does it purport to be a rumor. Instead it is a predictive analysis based on past Apple research initiatives, Apple's current marketing strategies, and recent product and technology positioning.

And he gives exact megahertz and *battery life*? Come on. Give me a break.

[ Parent ]

It's pretty easy (3.66 / 3) (#64)
by cmoyer on Fri May 25, 2001 at 10:42:42 PM EST

It's alot easier to come up with an acurate prediction for an Apple product than for the PC... why? There's only a single supplier... there's only one source (right now) of Chips... they have a well-defined product "cube". PC's are so diverse and made by so many different manufacturers, that speculation like this would be futile...

[ Parent ]
I did? Where? (4.33 / 3) (#66)
by fury on Fri May 25, 2001 at 11:34:36 PM EST

I gave exact megahertz? Heck, I didn't even say what processor it would use. If you're going to flame, flame accurately.

As for battery life: That's not really that hard to guess. Runing fairly standard mac hardware it's easy to estimate the power consumption. the only variable is the volume of the battery, and so I made a guess on how large the battery could be based on the dimensions such a product would need to succeed in the marketplace. 5 hours is a pretty good guess.

Kevin Fox - fury.com
[ Parent ]

Could be good, but we will have to see. (3.50 / 6) (#56)
by sabaka00 on Fri May 25, 2001 at 03:16:34 PM EST

My biggest concern is that handwriting recognition software cannot keep up with my writing without me stopping for every word. I just want to write as fast as possible while I'm listening to my professor's lecture. Even just writing into a paint-type program, the input isn't as fast as when I'm just typing or using a mouse or just writing on paper. If I could use this to replace all my notebooks in school, I will definitely get it before school starts up again.

difference in interpretation (4.66 / 3) (#57)
by cbatt on Fri May 25, 2001 at 03:48:04 PM EST

I don't think that what is being spoken about in the article is intended to be used as a primary data collection device. Rather it seems that the device would be an information carrier/accessor with just enough input capabilities to make it useful. I would recommend a laptop for note taking and for any task where portable, speedy, information input is required.

I see a device like this being used when you're lounging out on the patio of your home, within the space of a homebased wireless network, where you can access information for consumption. Be it video on demand, music, web surfing, or any combination of media that we currently view with our main computers.

I don't want a laptop next to me when all I need is a recipe (for example). I don't want to have to place it 15 feet from where I'm cooking and constantly dash between it and my workspace. I just want the screen... a nice rugged, spill-proof screen mind you, but no keyboard. There's no real reason for the input portion in this case. No keyboard means less parts to damage, less space used. Easier to move from place to place.

I can sum it up as simple, immediate access to information without all the overhead of a full blown laptop.

Pervaisive computing.

Before you can understand recursion
you must understand recursion.

[ Parent ]

What I'd like to see (3.75 / 4) (#59)
by fluffy grue on Fri May 25, 2001 at 04:38:43 PM EST

If there were some way of bringing up an on-screen keyboard - which would be typed on like a normal keyboard - then I'd be sold. A twiddler-type USB chording keyboard would work very well for this as well. (Actually, this proposed design for the iBook is what I've been daydreaming about as the future of computers since the mid-90s, fueled mostly by Star Trek: The Next Generation.)

Of course, for one-handed operation, a QWERTY keyboard would be ultra-crappy, but a one-finger keyboard would be great.

Also, once upon a time I was designing a chording keyboard which would have worked with only eight buttons (four on each hand) and where I optimized the mapping for C programming, but I never got around to building a prototype or anything (I even bought a cheap PIC programmer for that project which I've never even plugged in). Maybe I'll release my crude notes on it someday. I dunno.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

What I'd like to see.. (none / 0) (#80)
by MikeFM on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 02:31:41 AM EST

A couple years ago our VR team was working on a portable the size of a discman w/ wireless headset that you could wear and wireless net access anywhere (via cellular or wireless LAN if avail). You had special wristbands that tracked arm/hand movements and you could type/mouse w/ virtual input devices. Never tried but possible would be handwriting recognition. We were toying w/ a cognitive recognition device that would take simple mousing type commands from thought control (you had to practice a lot to reach a friendship with the device but it was nifty). The general idea for it was to make you able to move around the VR leaving your hands free and not rquiring you to move your lower body or make any odd movements to trigger your avatar's movement. Was all a nice pipedream that never seemed to come about... but I'd still love to see it evolve. :)

[ Parent ]
recognition speed (4.50 / 4) (#70)
by janra on Sat May 26, 2001 at 03:53:09 PM EST

Ok, so this isn't about the (possible) iPad, but I've been using my Newton to take notes in class for 3 years. It's almost as fast as on paper, and a whole lot lighter than paper at the end of the year. Swapping from 'text' to 'drawing' mode or back takes two taps, so I can write out equations or diagrams without much decrease in speed.

My classmates boggle at it when they see it - some of the comments I've gotten include 'it's way more useful than my friend's Palm that he bought 3 months ago... it's how old?' and they're always very disappointed when I tell them they're not made any more. Apparently I'm a pretty good Newton sales rep.

If you want something to take class notes on, see if you can find a Newton MessagePad 2000 or 2100 (I have a 2100). They're available used at varying prices, sometimes with all original boxed materials and in perfect condition.

As you may have guessed, I love my Newton. You'd have to pay me - a lot - to get me to switch to the Palm and give it up. I also rather like the voice synthesizer that reads the text of a meeting reminder to me :-)

Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
An idea for Apple. (none / 0) (#76)
by jegrant on Mon May 28, 2001 at 06:17:59 AM EST

Give me a way to do this: Sony Digital Studio on a Mac, preferably my existing Mac, with the addition of a new "Apple Tuner" translucent box that connects between my computer - tv - stereo - vcr - digital cable - satellite dish - et cetera. This box should have TV, AM, FM tuners built in, plus the ability to tune Sirius/XM with a future software upgrade. The true "digital hub" - ideally, able to take any input and digitize it into MPEG2, MPEG4, or Sorenson Video, along with MP3, Qualcomm TrueVoice, or QDesign audio, according to user preferences. Add other audio/video codecs to taste (some users prefer a different one, I'm sure). Add a brushed metal "iTV" ala iTunes and I'd be set. IF I had to buy a new Mac to do all this, well maybe - it's just a bit harder to sell myself on it that way.

New Link (none / 0) (#79)
by ambrosen on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 01:08:51 PM EST

The Register is running this story on this issue. It says that the iPad will be a detachable screen for a new iMac, which will also be rackmountable. There was one other thing, but I forget.

Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
intereesting but... (none / 0) (#81)
by jchristopher on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 07:39:01 PM EST

Interesting article, but with the specs given, there is no way Apple would/could sell it at $1000.

The Next Big Thing: The Apple iPad | 81 comments (44 topical, 37 editorial, 0 hidden)
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