A Few Predictions on the "Tablet" Event

I’ve wrestled with the idea of posting any predictions on the forthcoming Apple Event that takes place in less than 48 hours, but I am caving to tradition. This is just something most any writer who writes about Apple has to do. I don’t have anything to back anything up besides my gut feelings. I’m really just spitballing with a best guess.

The order of events to an Apple keynote, especially a Jobsnote (love having you back, Steve), is a pretty timeless and standard affair. Everything will start by recapping a lot of market data for the Mac, iPod, and iPhone. Apple will tout the financial numbers which are being released later today.

Mac announcements will come first, if there are any. I’m expecting a cursory announcement of iLife and iWork 2010 (or whatever they decide to call it) with some brief demonstrations of the latest enhancements. I’m thinking only iPhoto and iMovie will see demos. I have absolutely no idea what could be added. Expect both suites to go fully 64-bit.

iTunes will be after that. There will be a new feature or two added. I’m hoping that the rumors of all-you-can-eat streaming TV shows come to fruition. If that happens, and the Apple TV gets a hardware refresh to support 1080p, I’m there. I’ve been looking for an excuse to drop cable TV and TiVo (combined, they are just too expensive). $30 or $40 a month would be perfect. I must say, though, I don’t really see this happening. I do see iTunes getting one or two new features, and they’ll likely tie into the iPod and iPhone.

iPod announcements will follow iTunes, and the iPod touch is going to get most of the spotlight (all 3-5 minutes of it). The gist of it will be the announcement of iPhone OS 3.2, which will support whatever new features iTunes brings.

Following that, the iPhone will get a nod, with iPhone OS 3.2 coming for it as well, natch. Here’s where I play my wild card. AT&T will lose it’s US exclusivity on iPhone. Now, I expect this to be more announcement oriented, rather than immediate availability. I expect the iPhone will simply be available this summer on T-Mobile, the other GSM carrier in the States. But I know most are hoping Apple releases a CDMA iPhone for use on Verizon (and maybe Sprint). And this could be the stage to announce that for summer availability. Either way, or even both ways, AT&T will lose exclusivity. I’m calling that one, and I’ll eat crow if it doesn’t happen.

Lastly, and this will be the most lengthy part (I’m counting 30-minutes for everything else, an hour for this), the mythical “tablet” will finally be unveiled. There’s so many delusions surrounding this thing’s hype that it’s laughable. I’m keeping my predictions light. The hardware will look similar to an overgrown iPhone or iPod touch. I mean, realistically, imagining much beyond a giant piece of glass with a metal and/or plastic back, with as few buttons as possible isn’t much of a stretch. But the secret will lie in the software. That’s what is beautiful about multi-touch input — there isn’t a lot of limit on the user interface. I think the software will be more closely related to iPhone OS than Mac OS X, but it will be its own branch off the OS X root, much like iPhone OS was.

I think it will be revolutionary. I don’t think any of us have come close to what it will do or how it will fit in with our computing lifestyles. I do think that we’ll all say, “That makes sense” after Steve explains it to us.

I just hope it has a cool name like Canvas. I’ll slap my forehead if its name is iSlate or iPad.