Large iPod Touch: A “Netbook” for Passive Computing?

by Sachin Balagopalan on January 1, 2009 · 2 comments

There is a rumor floating around that Apple is poised to launch an iPod Touch like device with a larger form factor - 7 or 9 inch screen - in the fall of this year. The news follows on the heels of this Slate article a few days ago calling for a “redefinition” of the Netbook as we know it today.

Slate: … the thing we think of as a netbook should really be something else—a flat-panel, touch-screen tablet that can do photos, music, movies, e-mail, games, and full-function Web browsing. The device would include a small amount of onboard storage but would depend on the Internet cloud for most of its resources. Why no keyboard? Because then the device would be conceived as an appliance. You’d use it mainly for passive computing—for reading e-mail and Web pages, for looking at photos, for sharing documents in a meeting. You’d keep it on your lap to scan Facebook as you watch TV or bring it to bed to read the news before you go to sleep. You’d catch up on your e-mail as you ride the bus to work; you could respond to that e-mail using the on-screen keyboard, and when you get to the office, you could connect a USB keyboard.

Netbooks as we know have been gaining mainstream acceptance in 2008 especially since big names like Dell, HP and Lenovo have jumped on the band wagon. Some of us are even predicting that 2009 is going to be an even bigger year for these small, light-weight, low-cost, energy-efficient laptops. The current crop of Netbooks have one huge selling point and that is the price. You can pretty much walk away with one of these things for under $500 dollars.

The larger point is the apparent increase in passive computing over the last couple of years triggering the demand for devices that are cheap and ultra-portable yet with a screen that is large enough to read without having to constantly scroll. An increasing number of us now belong to at least one social network. A lot of us - in addition to surfing the web - twitter and use other micro-blogging services like FriendFeed. The bottom line is people are online and connected more so now than they ever were previously. However the kinds of things we do online these days seldom requires tons of on-board storage or even a full size keyboard for that matter. I think that’s where the Slate argument comes into play i.e. the current crop of Netbooks are basically low end PC’s and nothing more. What we need is a total refresh that accommodates this new paradigm shift. We need a device that will turn on instantly and give us a user experience where we can easily surf the web or Twitter or update our Facebook status - and we need a high resolution screen that’s large yet ultra-portable.

Like it or not Apple is the only company out there that can satisfy this requirement. If fact they are already there - it’s called the iPod Touch or the iPhone sans the phone and a lot of us already use it for our social networking activities, surfing the web and yes occasionally check our email as well. The only thing that is needed is a larger form factor - a nine inch screen perhaps. In addition to a full and robust OS the multi-touch user experience is totally in-line with the requirements of the passive user.

Yes, it’s time for a Tablet and I hope this rumor is true! :)

{ 1 trackback }

Predictions 2009 by Searchblog
01.04.09 at 4:46 pm

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Great Pdt 03.02.09 at 9:25 pm

yes, thats right, apple is a great company.

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