A report has surfaced claiming Apple has ordered 10-inch displays that will likely be used in the company’s rumored tablet PC. Assuming Apple does finally release the Apple Tablet, it will need some features to help it achieve the kind of success the company has enjoyed with its iPhone. The Apple Tablet can’t simply stand on the fact that Apple is offering it. That’s not enough to justify consumers or businesses spending hundreds of dollars just to have it.
The device will need strong integration with the products in Apple’s App Store. It will require a usable keyboard. It needs to have the features that users really want in order for Apple to create a real value proposition for customers.
So let’s take a look at some of the features the Apple Tablet should have when it makes its rumored debut on store shelves sometime in 2010.
1. A useful keyboard
Since the Apple Tablet will feature a touch screen, the device’s keyboard will become an extremely important feature. If users have a hard time typing URLs or information into any office-productivity software that will be installed, it could significantly limit the device’s appeal. Overall, the iPhone’s virtual keyboard isn’t too bad. Apple should mimic its functionality. But whether or not a larger device with more screen real estate can recreate that experience is a big question mark.
2. App Store integration
The Apple Tablet won’t have nearly enough appeal unless it plays nice with Apple’s App Store. Admittedly, that’s a hard sell. Right now, applications in the Store are designed with the smaller displays of the iPhone and iPod Touch in mind. Developers would need to modify their applications so that they work with the Apple Tablet. That said, there are over 100,000 applications in Apple’s App Store. The hardware company needs to exploit them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
3. A responsive display
In order for the Apple Tablet to be a success, its touch screen must be responsive to any and all gestures the user makes on the display. The iPhone wouldn’t be the iPhone if it didn’t have such a responsive (and accurate) display. The Apple Tablet will be just another useless tablet computer if it doesn’t have that same precise functionality. By the time it hits store shelves, the Apple Tablet must provide an iPhone-like experience.
4. True Apple design
Identifying Apple’s devices isn’t so difficult. Typically, they are the best-designed products on the store shelves. They have all the features that users really want. And they feature a “sexiness” that most products just don’t have. For the Apple Tablet to be successful, it must have all those elements. Customers expect a certain design aesthetic from Apple. The company needs to deliver.
Tablet PCs are nothing new. In fact, they’ve been around for years. Realizing that, Apple needs to find a way to make its tablet unique. Providing multitouch gestures on a lush display is a good first step, but it might not be enough. The device needs to do something special that customers haven’t seen yet.
Endowing the Apple Tablet with Broad Appeal
6. Appeal to enterprise users
The Apple Tablet doesn’t necessarily need to be an enterprise device, but it should appeal to the enterprise. At its launch, the Apple Tablet will sell extremely well. Consumers will be picking the device up in droves. But as those early adopters give way to laggards, it’s the enterprise that could significantly increase the device’s sales. After all, if companies use the device for certain tasks, employees will have a first-hand look at what all the fuss is about with Apple’s new device. That might be enough for those who don’t own the product to pick one up. Apple shouldn’t underestimate the power and influence of the corporate world.
7. Apple’s support
It seems rather silly to say that any Apple device will require the company’s support to be successful, but when it comes to Apple, it’s worth mentioning. Consider the fact that both the Mac Mini and the Apple TV have quickly become the “other” products Apple sells and it becomes clear that the hardware company doesn’t sufficiently support every product that it offers. Steve Jobs has called the Apple TV a “hobby” on more than one occasion. Will the Apple Tablet be just another home hobby device that users boot up when they don’t want to start up their hefty desktops? If Apple wants the Apple Tablet to be a big success, it had better not treat it that way.
8. iPhone’s intuitive multitouch gestures
A multitouch display is great, but it provides little to no value unless it offers an intuitive experience. Apple has done a fantastic job at doing just that with the iPhone. Users can zoom in on different parts of the screen with two taps, and use the pinch feature to quickly zoom in or out of different areas of the display. Those functions are simple, but they add to the experience of using the product. Apple can’t lose sight of that.
9. A 3G option
The Apple Tablet will almost undoubtedly feature Wi-Fi connectivity. But what if it also provided access to a 3G network? That would make it a much more valuable device. Without 3G, the Apple Tablet is a Web-enabled iPhone that’s only useful when the user is within Wi-Fi range. But with a 3G option, the Apple Tablet could be brought on trips, used practically everywhere and enjoyed far more often than it would without 3G. It might force consumers to pay a little extra per month, but they might be willing to do so if they knew they could access the Web while on the go.
10. A vision
Unfortunately, the Apple Tablet finds itself in an awkward position in the marketplace. It’s not big or powerful enough to be a notebook replacement. It’s too big to be a netbook alternative. It’s decidedly in the middle ground between productivity and portability. Realizing that, the device needs a vision. How does Apple want to market the device? How does it want consumers to view it in the marketplace? If the Apple Tablet is to be successful, Apple will need to answer those questions (and others) before the device hits store shelves.