Whenever Apple has a big product event coming up, rumors inevitably swell about the company releasing a tablet computer or, more recently, a “netbook”. People want Apple to put out a tiny laptop that costs well under $1000. I don’t see them ever doing this. At least, not the form the PC-minded tend to expect. Why not? Keyboards.
Steve Jobs’s Apple will never release a computer with tiny keys. He frequently mentions the high quality of the keyboards on their laptops, and often makes fun of the cheap keys on their competitors’ machines. During the most recent iPhone event he mockingly referred to the “tiny plastic keys” on the Blackberry. Jobs doesn’t like cheap, tiny keyboards. This limits the physical size of any Mac Apple ever releases to a little over 12″ across. Any smaller and the keys will have to shrink which, I think, sets off an alarm in Jobs’s head that screams “cheap”. For all the neat things the Kindle might have going for it, do you ever see Apple putting out a device with buttons on it that look like they came from a plastic calculator or a TV remote?
I can see Apple releasing a tablet device that’s all touchscreen. Picture a Star Trek PADD: like an iPhone, but with a screen the size of a novel. I don’t know that Apple will-they’d have to come up with a marketable reason to release such a device-but I can see something like that coming from the company. Maybe it can stand up on its own and connect to a wireless keyboard. May Apple would even add a book and magazine store section to iTunes for it. But there has to be a reason for it to exist other than just that the press thinks it might be cool. Likewise for touch screens on their Macs. It’d be cool, but I’m not sure it’d improve your productivity any, and it would probably create an entire new category of repetitive stress syndrome from having to hold your arm up all day to operate the screen.