Take two Mac tablets and call the Macalope in the morning.

A report in an Australian publication called Smarthome has set off another chain-reaction of Mac tablet lust.

Since the death of the Newton, the Mac tablet has been as storied a mythical Apple-themed beast as the Macalope himself. Only the iTV has probably inspired more Apple fan-boy enthusiasm.

Our first stop on the Mac tablet chain reaction tour is a report on T3, a British web site and magazine that ingeniously noticed that guys like gadgets and guys like women in bikinis so why not combine the two?! The report even includes some cheesey mock-ups which the Macalope can’t help but notice are not being held by any swimsuit-clad vixens.

Come on. If you’re going to have a shtick, don’t go all politically correct when the Mac users suddenly tune in. The Macalope asks you, is that fair? No, it is not.

Meanwhile, Jason O’Grady continues his nigh unhealthly Mac tablet obsession (can’t you just be obsessed with porn like everyone else?), this time mercifully leaving out any reference to a “lite” version of OS X.

I think that in addition to commuters, a tablet Mac would be perfect for doctors, foremen, teachers, real estate agents and photographers.

Ah! Doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs! What about train engineers? Baristas? Bee keepers? Monkey wranglers? The Macalope is certain there are vertical market application developers in each of those industries just waiting to port their apps to OS X.

Users of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator would also be perfect candidates for a tablet Mac because the touch screen allows you paint right on the screen.

Yes, we all know how graphics heads love underpowered processors, which is what a thin, lightweight, inexpensive computer would almost assuredly have. They particularly love them when their apps still have to be run through Rosetta!

If we forget practicality, O’Grady’s idea of a Mac tablet sure sounds great. Sadly, it also doesn’t sound much like what the Smarthouse piece described, leading the Macalope to wonder about his reading comprehension skills.

Sources in Taiwan have said that the focus has been more on the home and the education environment than the enterprise marketplace. Several months ago I was told that Apple was exploring a neat new device that is basically a touch screen that links to various source devices including a brand new media centre that Apple is planning to launch next year.

The Mac tablet has been designed to handle third party applications such as home automation software that will allow users to control lighting, audio, entertainment devices and security feeds. It also acts as a full blown PC has wireless linking for a new generation of Wireless Hi Fi speakers that are currently being tested by Apple.

Hmm. Wasn’t the troll that lives under the bridge out along the Old Forest highway reminding the Macalope the other day about how – while he didn’t really care for the Newton – Steve Jobs was a fan of the eMate? This troll seemed to think the new device is a merging of the eMate’s basic Internet, word-processing and other educational uses with Apple’s iLife and media hub functionality.

He was also gnawing on what looked like a human femur, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of making a valid point.

To round out the blog circus, Robert Scoble does his best riff on c:/ongrtlns.w95. Scoble has been known to beat the drum about how “it’s all about ‘user scenarios’, man!” and tablet PCs gots teh mad “user scenarios”. If you can’t use your Mac while stuck head-down in a dumpster with your butt cheeks taped together and oven mitts on your hands and your pants down around (up around?) your ankles and a sock stuck in your mouth (it could happen!), well, don’t come crying to Robert Scoble! Because someone, somewhere sells a Windows-based tablet for exactly that “user scenario”! Advantage Windows!

The Macalope doesn’t feel hugely compelled to put a lot of stock into rumors from some magazine for safe room freaks down under, but it seems likely that if Apple is indeed making a Mac tablet, you won’t see it suddenly appear in the hands of the guy standing in a construction site and wearing a yellow hard hat on the cover of Building Industry Monthly. It’s going to be aimed at Apple’s core constituencies in the home and education markets, which is what the piece describes.

It’s OK to believe in the Mac tablet. It’s OK to want one really badly. But don’t let anyone sell you their Ronco fantasies of what it’s going to do.

Comments
  • There was fanboy enthusiasm about the iTV? I thought we all wanted an Apple TiVo, not an expensive way to play expensive iTunes content through our TV?

    So, do we reckon any tablet-style thingy would probably be a controller for iTV and FrontRow, a bit like the Sonos controller thingy?

    Whoop de doo :)

  • There was substantial enthusiasm about an Apple set-top box. Whether they have (or will have) delivered is debatable.

    By the way, have you tried El Gato’s EyeTV?

  • I want to want a tablet, but I just know that they’ll end up being more expensive, and most probably not as good. Now, if apple were to just add a digitiser (what a pleasing word) and make the display on my MacBook Pro swivel (preferably doing all this by software update, of course) I’d be a happy, um, camper. The only reason I want it is to make reading RSS feeds on the train easier. Is that so wrong? Is it?

  • BarakTheCat:

    I’ve got nothing to add but a big thumbs up for the Dylan quote.

  • You know, I wasn’t planning on writing a dissertation on this, but your comment about usage cases, and the sheer wretchedness of the Smarthouse article just pulled it out of me.

    In case, trackbacks don’t work: http://www.bynkii.com/archives/2006/11/tablet_mania_ix.html

  • Brian:

    We’ve been experimenting with tablets here at work (university campus) for a few years now. While we have cobbled together a couple of viable “usage cases,” they proven largely to be a solution in search of a problem. Just more gee-whiz technology with no real purpose other than to be gee-whiz.

    I’m not saying there’s no case for a tablet, of course. Just that I can’t find a case that compels me to go blow 2 large on one.

  • The Mac tablet has been designed to handle third party applications such as home automation software that will allow users to control lighting, audio, entertainment devices and security feeds. It also acts as a full blown PC has wireless linking for a new generation of Wireless Hi Fi speakers that are currently being tested by Apple.

    It sounds like a universal remote without buttons, just a touch screen.

  • Ahhh the tablet computer. The answer to a question that nobody asked. There’s a reason that Dell stopped selling them. Why on earth would Apple want to start?

  • travis:

    I just saw my oral surgeon yesterday, who uses a tablet. A perfect use for it in my opinion. He brings it in, shows patient (me) my x-ray, zooms in to the tooth in question, discussing treatment, etc. He can view my history, add notes, etc.

    I talked with him about it and while he said the tablet had lots of great qualities, there were some glaring problems – problems that I believe a company well-versed in exception user interface design could overcome.

    Issue number one is how hard it is to enter new comments after seeing patients. Tap, tap, tapping with stylus on screen to peck out comments just didn’t cut it.

    But he likes the light weight, ability to carry around from patient to patient, easy access to all records, etc.

    So, yes, I think that there is a market for a WELL-DESIGNED tablet computer.

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