The hook

Neven Mrgan on the specialized device

But while we wait for that future, the tablet doesn’t have to be a weird half-solution. See, about a year ago I said of tablets that they’re “small enough that you can take them anywhere, and big enough that you won’t take them anywhere.” As in, you always have your phone on you, and if you need something bigger – that is, big enough to need a carrying case or bag – why not just grab a laptop? But then I heard a few comments about certain special cases where a tablet would actually be the total bee’s knees; cooler and more useful than a laptop.

Special cases such as digital sketching and painting.

Or take the cases of professional photography and medical imaging…

But Apple’s not really really the kind of company that’s going to make a specialized device. Apple generally makes things that have broad market appeal, so the Macalope think there’s a hook we’re missing here.

The Macalope likes to imagine an Apple pitch meeting like something out of The Player in which every movie was pitched as a combination of two previous movies. “It’s Prizzi’s Honor meets Turner & Hooch!” etc. One thing is something Apple already makes, the other thing is something they’re not involved in yet.

The iPhone was phone meets Mac. The Apple TV was Mac meets TV. Maybe the tablet is Front Row meets iPod (phrased like that it doesn’t sound like it’d win approval – maybe there’s a better way to put it) or Mac meets book or newspaper. Or Mac meets hand-held game device as Neven alludes (although, the iPhone and Touch already fill that scenario).

Whatever it is, it seems to the horny one that a simple way of phrasing it exists, whether they actually use it overtly internal to Apple or not. We just don’t know what it is yet.

Trackbacks Comments
  • rob:

    “But Apple’s not really really the kind of company that’s going to make a specialized device.”

    Wait just a minute there, pardner. What was the original iPod, if not a specialized device? Yes, they’ve evolved to do more than just play music, but IIRC, there was criticism early on that they didn’t do other stuff, and look how that turned out.

    Maybe you meant they don’t make specialized devices anymore, in which case you can just ignore me. 🙂

  • Doug:

    If Apple does release such a device, then I hope it can be used as a dynamic secondary input. Such as having your keyboard surface of a laptop be the “touch screen” we’re used to from the iPhone, so it shows a full keyboard when typing is involved, but can just as easily be a Photoshop toolset, standalone dock area, or small secondary screen of its own.

    The future is wide open.

  • The Macalope:

    What was the original iPod, if not a specialized device?

    Not specialized in the sense that it only does one (or a handful) of things, specialized in the sense that it fits the needs of a special group of people, which is more how Neven is using the term. Specialized in the vertical market sense.

  • Most people at this point have come across iPhones, so I think the pitch is actually “iPhone meets magazine”. Just the bigger screen is enough. The tagline can be “See more. Read more. Do more.” I don’t think it’s that complicated.

    As to the size thing, if it’s about the size as a very thin hardcover book, it’s still easier to tote around than a laptop. But maybe I’m just a weird urban dweller who always carries a bag with at least one book and my iPhone, but saves the laptop for work/home/travel.

  • monkyhead:

    Mighty Mouse meets Slap Chop!

  • Bruce Hoult:

    Whatever it is, I don’t think I’m going to need one.

    But then I thought that about the iPhone too, right up until I had a jailbroken one in my hands and the toolchain set up. (SDK would have done it too, but that was eight months later)

    My 32 GB iPhone has now fully replaced my 30 GB iPod. A tablet is not going to replace the iPhone, so it’s going to have to either replace my MacbookPro (not going to happen) or else do something in the middle that neither the iPhone nor the MBP do well. I can’t imagine what. Even the Air loses enough compared to the 17″ MBP that I can’t be bothered with the hassle of syncing an extra device.

  • J.M. Heinrichs:

    Members of the USMC, c1997, were experimenting with the Newton MessagePad to see what could be accomplished for the battlefield soldier. About the same time, the Future Soldier Project was being ramped up. Both groups are still awaiting the promise offered by the technology experts: the FSP because the promise of Windows remains unfulfilled, the USMC because the Newton was cancelled.


  • Whatever it is, I think I’m going to need two.

  • I used a Newton 110 and 120 to take class notes when I was in graduate school, and I had it with me wherever I went. I really don’t think a tablet would present the kind of carry barrier even a netbook has. If only they make two versions, like the iPhone and iPod Touch, I’ll get the version with the phone and replace my iPhone entirely… and my PowerBook, for that matter (Yes, I still haven’t got an Intel Mac yet).

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