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Will Apple Introduce a Tablet, and Will you Take a Bite?

There’s been a great deal of speculation over the past few months regarding the existence of an Apple tablet PC.  Will it have the same form factor as a traditional convertible tablet, with its swivel screen or will it be like a giant iPhone? Will it run the iPhone OS, or a full version of MacOS X?  Does it even exist?  Best question ever – will you buy one?

There are a lot of people who say that an Apple tablet is going to be an eBook winner and an Amazon Kindle killer.  I however am not convinced and it goes back to the EXACT same thing I said just over 18 months ago on Gear Diary regarding the iPhone 3G, unless the cell coverage is there, its not going to make a bit of difference what kind of device and what kind of features it has.  The iTablet (or iSlate, as its rumored to be called) isn’t going to kill anything if it sits on AT&T’s 3G network, especially here in the Chicago-land area.

Devices like the Amazon Kindle with WhisperNet (which runs on Sprint’s wireless network), the Nook, and yes even the iPhone 3G/3G S, aren’t successful unless there’s network coverage around to make them usable as a wireless device.  While I hate to say it, there IS a map for that, and there IS something to what Verizon is saying – coverage and the reliability of that coverage make, or break a wireless device.

Apple’s new tablet device is supposed to function as an eBook reader, and as a portable touch-based computer.  In other words, simply a 10 inch version of the iPhone.  Will it have more Mac like functionality?  Good question.  Will it just be a bigger and perhaps clunkier iPhone? Another good question.  Will it also run on AT&T’s network?  Man, the good questions just keep on coming! Let’s tackle those one at a time.

Will Apple’s tablet be a Mac like computer?
There’s been a great deal of speculation on what the next Apple device would be – netbook, tablet, eBook reader, perhaps all three.  The jury is still out on what the device will actually do, (or if it will even be introduced at all) though there’s a great deal of speculation out there.

Will it be a larger version of the iPhone?
This is, in my opinion possible, but very unlikely.  The device WILL be cellular based like the iPhone, but its not going to be a "giant" iPhone.  Apple is too smart to create confusion with its products and introducing a tablet device that is simply a giant iPhone with a $400-$600 price tag will do nothing more than flop.  The unlocked iPhone is in that price range, and Apple isn’t in the habit of introducing products/devices with overlapping feature sets.

Will Apple partner with AT&T for the iTablet/iSlate?
Again, this is possible, but very unlikely in my opinion.  Amazon chose Sprint for WhisperNet for a specific reason – Sprint rides on a lot of Verizon’s 3G towers through roaming agreements, and they’re cheaper than Verizon itself.  AT&T has taken a great deal of bad press recently claiming that they’re going to charge large bandwidth consumers a higher data plan rate.  They’ve also been rumored to have stopped selling the iPhone 3G S in the New York area because of complaints and problems with their network coverage.  AT&T has taken a huge hit with their network, the bad press, etc., and Apple would do very well to rethink their partnership with the number 2 wireless carrier in The States.

There’s supposed to be an Apple event some time in January where the tablet will be officially introduced.  Many of us are watching for some kind of official announcement from Apple on the event; but nothing has been set in stone as of this writing.  I’ll get keeping my eyes and ears open; and if something does turn up, you’ll see something here as well as at iTechGear.org

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