Hardware

Peter Cochrane's Blog: Is Apple preparing a tablet to kill all laptops?

Mac tablet could be just what the mobile space needs

Written at my home and dispatched to silicon.com later the same day via an aggregated broadband service.

My new laptop is all set and ready to go, fresh and shiny, just sitting there on my desk - yet to be used in anger.

After a seamless changeover from my old to new machine, I am discovering lots of really nice mechanical, software and interface features.

But you know what? Despite all the new and improved capabilities, it is still just a laptop, and that sense of excitement I felt 15 years ago is long gone.

This is no longer a technology, it is a tool, a very reliable and stable tool - and just like my wristwatch, car and mobile phone, I'd be happy for anyone I know and trust to use it.

Might it be that the laptop paradigm is becoming passé, boring, everyday - almost retro? I reckon! They all seem to be the same these days, baring modest differences in size, format, interfaces and applications. It is hard to tell them apart.

I think we are waiting for an iPhone moment - a stage left entry that changes the industry, and provides a new way of thinking and operating in the mobile space.

If this is the case, where might it come from? Why not Apple? After all the iPhone changed everything, and the marketplace is full of rumours about coming announcements from the Cupertino company. Many are betting next week will be the moment they unveil the long-awaited Mac Tablet - but of course no one knows for sure.

If Apple does launch a new device, you can bet it will link with the iPhone, use all the established applications and come with a GUI enhanced by voice and gesture.

My guess is that it will at least equal the technology featured in the movie Minority Report, and most likely have smarts that are AI-based.

This would include seamless mobile connectivity to the cloud via 2.5/3G, wi-fi and WiMax, plus of course some interesting proximity networking via Bluetooth.

I expect flash memory, no moving parts and certainly no CD/DVD slot. And while we are at it: no sockets for anything but power, or perhaps no sockets at all! Inductive charging systems are now real and on the market - so why not?

What about the form factor? Thin, very thin, about the same as the lid and screen of the MacBook Air, or even a plastic flexi-screen with movement, orientation and position sensors as embedded functions.

It will know where it is in 2D and 3D space, where it is pointing and what the user is doing.

And please, if I can have one wish granted, let it be capable of anticipating my next set of requirements and needs.

In less than a week we will all know for sure!

About Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

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