Apple CEO Steve Jobs is likely preparing to officially pull the veil off of the worst-and-best kept secret in the tech industry tomorrow with the introduction of some sort of Apple Tablet. You know, unless the company is even better at keeping secrets than we thought and he’s actually unveiling a new space tourism initiative that provides you with one free ticket to a new moon base with the purchase of every iPhone.

Anyway, it’s likely that the Apple Tablet won’t be quite like any device on the market today. But it’s hardly going to be the first tablet-style device. We’ve been using PDAs, slates, touchscreen phones, and notebooks with convertible touchscreen displays for years. Microsoft has tried to spark interest in the space at least a few times, first by pushing notebooks with full keyboards that can be converted into laptops, and most recently with the Origami/UMPC concept for 10 inch and smaller touchscreen tablets, usually sans keyboard.

And while tablets running Windows have never become part of the zeitgeist the way that, say, the iPhone has, there are plenty of tablets already on the market. And there are plenty more on the way, including a number that will run Google’s Android operating system rather than Windows.

There have been plenty of pundits claiming that the Windows paradigm was never right for touchscreen tablets. The concept of folders, a start menu, and so forth work better with a mouse, while a touchscreen works better with a different sort of interface — something Apple figured out when the company designed the UI for the iPhone. But you know what? There are still an awful lot of tablets running Windows, as well as a fair number of happy tablet users.

For an overview, check out UMPC Portal, where our buddy Chippy highlights the 46 tablet PCs in his product database.

Apple may or may not be on the verge of revolutionizing the tablet space. But the company is hardly creating it.

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7 replies on “The Apple Tablet will be in good company”

  1. Apple already has the best and most popular tablet out there. It is called the Ipod touch. Why does everyone think of Microsoft’s awkward tablets of the past when they think of tablets? Apple is good at changing the rules as everyone knows them. I think the apple tablet/slate will be a media device that can also surf the web. I expect they will announce partnerships for content tomorrow.

    1. But will everyday consumers buy into it? What would be the cost? How big will it be in size? Apple may produce some sexy designs in their devices but that does not always lead to high sales. It doesn’t make much sense to shoot the iPod touch in foot. I don’t think people want to carry a 7 inch tv around regardless of how portable and most people have laptops that they’re satisfied with so, I just question the entire slate concept. it looks good to the gadget collector but is it really practical for every day use and a power user? To me it just adds another device to your backpack.

  2. I have a question and maybe someone in this forum can answer it for me. What market, or demographic of customer are the slate device makers trying to adhere to? I mean; I think there unique and may have minimum purpose in a corporate and manufacturing uses but I don’t see the average consumer carrying this around to meet there daily computing needs. I can see it doubling as a ebook reader though.

    1. I just see Apple coming late into tablet computing.

      Apple just won’t be come out a two steps ahead this time. It would be like an iPhone 1.0 coming out against an the current Google Nexus One. Without being ahead of everyone else their plan has a hole in it.

      1. Apple’s never been ahead of the game. They didn’t introduce the first PC,
        laptop, MP3 player, or phone. But the company does have a habit of putting
        some interesting polish on existing product categories and making them

      2. How can they not be ahead of the game when they enter the tablet market. People were showing off their competitor tablet to theirs a month before they even announce theirs. I have no doubt that the CES tablet explosion was completely due to Apple.

        And secondly, while there are tablets around now, none of them have had any notion of what the tablet is for. Apple seems to be focusing on the portable media distribution model in a bigger size. Like the iPod Touch and what makes the iPhone popular, except with a larger screen size and more customized media content/distribution.

  3. If I do end up getting a slate, I’d prefer it to run Windows/OSX over a custom or mobile OS. What’s great about a “full” OS is that there are myriad tools for customizing the look and function of it. I could install Launchy and do away with folder windows all together. I certainly could use Rainmeter, Objectdock/Rocket Dock, windowblinds, and many other programs to completely customize the interface to my liking. Imagine a slick multitouch slate skinned with the elegant Gaia09 and only a few large highres icons on the desktop–each with slick animation and customized behavior. Simply beautiful. Oh yeah, and you have access to every program already compatible with said OS.

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