Wednesday, December 23, 2009

rumors of announcements of forthcoming products

The Apple-rumor mill is nearly as energetic as if it were anticipating yet another Steve Jobs keynote at Macworld. Well, Steve has been on the heal for half a year now, so an appearance by him at some sort of event isn't all that unlikely, and there are media distribution deals to be discussed as well as new devices and new models of existing products - plenty of material for a stage appearance by Mr. Jobs.

High on the list of anticipated announcements, is an Apple tablet device with a touchscreen, running some variant of OS X, and most likely capable of running iPhone/iPod Touch apps unaltered. Most such speculation has revolved around a tablet with a 10-inch screen, suitable for use as a reader or as a personal movie player. But there has also been a persistent secondary rumor regarding a smaller tablet, with a 7-inch screen.

If you're reading this then you may recall that I'm already dangling from a twig, having gone on record predicting that Apple will market two, rather different tablets, the larger of which will be better suited to the office or living room, and the smaller of which you'll want to keep with you all the time, wherever you go.

The larger (10-inch) device is likely to have a camera facing towards the user, whereas the smaller (7-inch) device is more likely to have one that faces away, the same direction that the user is looking. The larger device is likely to have enough of a battery to get through just about any movie without a recharge, but most use cases will presume that the charger is handy and there will be a premium on keeping the device light. The smaller device might actually weigh more that the larger one, but its battery should be good for at least 12 hours of constant use, without an active datalink, or at least half that with a datalink.

I'd expect the system software to fall somewhere between iPhone OS and Mac OS X, mainly differing from iPhone OS in allowing multiple simultaneous applications and user background processes, and to be nearly identical on the two tablet devices. I don't expect either to run unaltered Mac apps using AppKit, although I'm prepared to be pleasantly surprised on that count.

I'm also expecting both to sport a system-on-chip CPU (or something leaning heavily in that direction) containing one or more ARM cores, rather than anything Intel.

I don't expect the larger device to have any long-range wireless capabilities. I half-expect the smaller one to have a single radio unit that can be used to connect to any cellular or consumer data network, as well as Wifi and Bluetooth, but no dedicated cellular hardware.

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