We here at the department of pre-announcement, well…OK, I’m actually going to be travelling during Steve’s big announcement tomorrow, so I thought I’d get in early with what I think or maybe hope will happen.
Everybody is talking about Apple’s big event tomorrow, with most people concentrating on the announcement of the rumoured tablet device, allegedly an iPhone with a 10 inch screen. Some of the speculation seems grounded in credible reports from content partners about negotiations with Apple, while much of it seems to be people making stuff up on the spot. (Hell, that’s how I do most of my analysis. It’s not like anyone pays me for it anyway.)
Anyway, at this stage I’m really hoping that Steve has something else up the mock-turtleneck’s sleeve (had to make a reference to that, didn’t I?) that not only isn’t a tablet, but that will make people forget about tablets as an entire product class. This is mostly because of the wild speculation about a tablet device. It’s like I feel at this point it would be a let down.
Whatever it is, we can be sure that other vendors will be trying to match it. Arguably, this started already with the launch of numerous tablet PCs at (and around) CES. Apple has moved from setting trends in the industry with its products, to setting trends in the industry with wild rumours about products that not only haven’t been announced, but that cannot actually be verified as existing in the first place.
Let’s face it, there have been no credible pictures, no leaks with details specific enough to be believable (hearing vague statements about Steve’s feelings on the product hardly count, no matter how many times you hear them from how many different sources). Now, Apple have been cracking down on their leak problem, but still, we had much better information on each of the iPhone versions by this time before the launch. Where are the blank forms for the accessory manufacturers? Where are the photos smuggled off the assembly line in China? Even people who swear blind to have held one in their hands provide us with conflicting reports, and none of them have pictures to back them up.
“The greatest trick Apple ever pulled, was convincing the world the tablet didn’t exist…”
One source of wild speculation has been “sightings” by analytics firm Flurry of 50 iPhone OS 3.2 devices that don’t leave the Cupertino campus. The only thing they know for sure is that they stay on campus, and they don’t report as iPhones. Therefore, they must be a tablet, right?
Well, Apple have been known to run their OS on non-Apple hardware in the past as a proof of concept. Project “Star Trek” (Where no Mac has gone before) was one in a series of projects to run Mac OS on Intel hardware long before they moved to the Intel platform. It’s a way Apple makes sure that, if necessary, they can make major changes in architecture quickly and seamlessly. This raises another possibility for the 3.2 devices Flurry have detected. Who is to say that they haven’t ported the iPhone OS to a number of other platforms, such as the Droid, the Palm Pre, the Nexus One, or even the Blackberry, just to show they can? After all, wouldn’t it make more sense to have a new tablet device running iPhone OS 4.0?
Of course, that doesn’t explain what Steve is going to announce tomorrow. MacPaint X? Socks for the iPhone 3GS? The Apple HiFi 2? Any of these will be a complete letdown, of course. Everyone wants a tablet. Anything less than a tablet will be derided as a failure. Even if it runs on sunspots, and reverses climate change.
There is another possibility, that frankly troubles me. It may turn out that, as many have suspected for sometime, Steve Jobs is a Super-Villain. And tomorrow’s announcement is where he will reveal his plans for world domination. And, after talking about Apple’s performance, and how many iPhone Apps have been sold this week, there will be one more thing. And Steve will put on the gas mask…