one man's journey into creating gibblybits

Thursday, June 25, 2009

crazy apple theories

The iPhone was a revelation to me as a slightly laggy, brilliantly-executed, perfect tabula rasa in your pocket. I'm now rocking a 3GS and can say the sweet just got sweeter. But, of course, the limiting factor is *space* -- your screen, your fingers, your UI all constrained to a tiny space. Now, we all know a tablet will descend from Cupertino. Occam's Razor suggests a minimalist, one-or-three-button device with a large multi-touch screen. But what about the details? What would Apple do to market the device, and how would it differentiate between this and the touch, the iPhone or a MacBook?

Here are my crazy theories.

1. I think you'll see a big aftermarket for wall hangers. VESA mini, if you will.
2. I think the appeal will be to *families* and the usual upscale audience. But the family part is key.
3. It will be slightly less ergonomic than the next iteration of its species.
4. For developers, it will require a plastic UI -- what is called "resolution independence" and it's gotta be vector-based, essentially. But imagine being able to easy scale anything in a view: the labels, the fields, etc. all proportionally so it doesn't just look like a jumbo version of your app, but a nicely *scaled* version of your app. I'd bet you could expose further functionality on a bigger UI as well, although the concept would be kludgy at first.
5. Of course it'll do stuff like play video from apple tv, your Macs, and work as a remote, and connect seamlessly to MobileMe functions...
6. Oh and about MobileMe? Yeah, here's the crazy part. What if the thing had a subsidy? Apple sells you a 2-year MobileMe subscription so you only pay $500 for the thing?
7. Then again, let's just say they make a soft but strong sell of MM apps, making iWork and some iLife apps web-based, and subsidize the darn thing via cell carriers like AT&T and Verizon, using their LTE networks? Yeah, that'd be pretty sweet too.
8. Apple's retail price point would have to be $599-699 depending on whether you want a 32GB or 128GB model, and the packaging will be impossibly thin.
9. The "app store" will explode with more Mac-like apps. A hybrid ecosystem of Mac/iPhone app beasties... and if they open up apple tv as some sort of gaming platform... well hell, that'd be awesome.
10. Your old IR-based Apple remotes won't work with the damn thing, but it will have HDMI outputs on the high-end model.

Footnote: My dream app/game for this ecosystem of a slab/apple tv/mac/iphone universe? A cooperative spacefaring adventure game similar to Star Trek. You start as a cadet and learn the ropes, pick your track and get assigned to a ship. You then roam the galaxy going on missions and moving up in the fleet. Each interface would be different, so a navigation officer would see nav controls on, say, his iPhone. Tactical officers might need to use iPhone or touches to do moves. But the senior officers would be able to coordinate on Macs, much like a DRADIS system. All working together to accomplish the mission.

That would be fun, I think.

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