RUMOR: Apple tablet to cost $700-$1000, feature new touch gestures, Multi-Touch™ version of iWork

Christmas PD5FM $10 discount“Recently, anticipation for new tablet computers has been almost absurdly focused on the magical product that people expect to emanate from the mind of Apple’s chief executive, Steven P. Jobs,” Brad Stone and Nick Bilton report for The New York Times. “Analysts who have spoken to Asian component suppliers now think that an Apple tablet will ship by the end of March, and that Apple will hold an event to introduce a new product by the end of this month.”

“But Apple’s tablet may not end up dominating the emerging market for tablets, as some seem to expect. One reason is price. Analysts think the Apple tablet could cost anywhere from $700 to $1,000,” Stone and Bilton report. “Conversations with several former Apple engineers who worked on the long-gestating tablet also suggest that Apple may be asking users to learn a somewhat complex new vocabulary of finger gestures to control it, making use of technology it acquired in the 2007 purchase of a company called FingerWorks.”

“‘The tablet should offer any number of unique multitouch experiences — for example, three fingers down and rotate could mean ‘open an application,’’ said one former engineer, who asked not to be named because Apple demands secrecy from all current and former employees,” Stone and Bilton report. “Another former Apple designer said a team at the company had ‘spent the past couple of years working on a multitouch version of iWork,’ Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s Office software suite. This could indicate that Apple wants the tablet to be a fully functional computer, rather than a more passive device for reading books and watching movies. That could help justify a higher price.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Take the word of “former” Apple employees with a truckload of salt. For crying out loud, beleaguered Palm is a dumping ground for former Apple employees. The Times’ sources likely haven’t worked on the tablet project. For all we know, the last thing they worked on at Apple could have been System 7. Even if their information comes from talking with their successful friends who still work at Apple, they may be getting quite a bit wrong, as Jobs doles out info in compartmentalized fashion, so only a few people at the very top really know exactly what a project in development is truly meant to be when finished.


  1. I already have tablet fatigue. What about Apple’s other products?

    While Apple is creatively leaking information about the tablet, what are they doing that we’re not paying attention to?

  2. We’ve known iWork is better than Office for a while now.

    We also know that Apple sucks at Windows Apps, but hey, if this thing got iWork some traction, I would LOVE to see a Windows version of iWork to really take it to MS.

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  3. Quite a while back a current Apple top person said the tablet would be good for creating content. Not just imbibing media. Capable of real work. Going to be wonderful!

  4. For me, it would be useless if it WASN’T a fully functional computer. I certainly don’t need or want another “entertainment device.”

    The more I hear the more I believe that this would be something I could really use.

  5. @Mike,

    I don’t think Apple will release an official Windowss version of iWork.
    They would, IMO, try to popularize the online version of that suite.
    The cloud! The integration of iWork and MobileMe… That’s the next step.

  6. @TowerTone,

    The gestures will not be complex at all. Trust Apple. They know what they’re doing.
    They came up with the iPod click wheel, which was new and so intuitive.
    Another example is zooming a picture with your iPhone/iPod touch.
    These features are so natural to the users. Expect any new UI to be as easy to use.

  7. @scott: Ever heard of NDAs? Even if you don’t work there, they can still sue you.

    That said, Jon Rubinstein (Mac/iPod tech) and Fred Anderson (CFO) at Palm were part of the Jobs inner circle when Apple’s digital strategy started, so of all outsiders, they have the best insight into Apple’s earlier thinking. Rubinstein was squeezed out when Apple started on the iPhone, so his knowledge may now be dated.

    The only other person from the early 00’s inner circle no longer at Apple is Avie Tevanian (Mac OS). I think he’s in venture capital now.

  8. I said it before, the tablet will canabalize white Mac Book sales to the point it will disappear. I believe the high-end version of the tablet will cost about $150 less than the WMB, or even a little less.

  9. The pieces are coming together. The tablet will usher in the next big era of multi-touch. We’re about to be taken beyond the pinch to zoom crap and into the complexity of “Minority Report.”

    “Users of these multi-touch interfaces may make use of hand and finger gestures to interact with their computers in ways that a conventional mouse and keyboard cannot easily achieve. A multi-touch gesture can be as simple as using one or two fingers to trace out a particular trajectory or pattern, or as intricate as using all the fingers of both hands in a complex sequence of movements reminiscent of American Sign Language.”

    The Cupertino-based electronics maker further explains that each motion of the hands and fingers, whether complex or not, would convey a specific meaning or action that is acted upon by the computer or electronic device at the behest of the user:

    “The number of multi-touch gestures can be quite large because of the wide range of possible motions by fingers and hands. It is conceivable that an entirely new gesture language might evolve that would allow users to convey complex meaning and commands to computers and electronic devices by moving their hands and fingers in particular patterns.”

    To manage the new language, Apple’s patent proposal calls for a “dictionary of multi-touch gestures” that is interactively presented to a user of a computer system having a multi-touch user interface. In one embodiment, the company said the dictionary may take the form of a dedicated computer application that identifies a chord (e.g., a combination of fingers, thumbs, and/or other hand parts) presented to the multi-touch interface by the user and displays a dictionary entry for the identified chord.

  10. New, more complicated gestures? Three-finger swipes to open program? This new way of interacting with the tablet would certainly make sense coming from Apple since it would be something completely novel, and not just a desktop OS made to work on a tablet format.

    It would also corroborate/explain the earlier rumor that the device would have a steep learning curve.

    I can’t wait.

  11. “But Apple’s tablet may not end up dominating the emerging market for tablets, as some seem to expect. One reason is price…”

    It’s always the same ‘argument’- price, price, price- These guys actually get paid to write this crap.

    If this device is what a tablet / slate / iPad ‘should’ be- then it will sell and it will define the space. This is what Apple is all about.

  12. Hey, Mac+, who do you think you’re talking to? We may be “Mac Faithful” (plus a few trolls), but we are also reasonably well informed – including visiting the hardware in the stores. I’m typing on a month-old MacBook right now, which means “complex gestures”. Although, my normally sweet-tempered wife would not be quite so “nice” in describing them. The ones she has figured out, that is. Interesting that I can use gestures to magnify or shrink a web page in Safari but can’t do the same to a text page in Pages.
    Will that be one of the New Things for iWorks this year? Gestures? Another being Apple taking public, at least for MobileMe users? Me experiments with that have shown that a generic Windows user can easily download a PDF of a Numbers page. No option for changing format, though.

  13. That’s quite a load of assumptions and conclusions (and an unhealthy dose of anti-Apple bias) based on not very much of anything.

    Like Mark Twain said: “A brontosaur, nine bones and 600 barrels of plaster.” Disappointing, coming from the NYT.

  14. G4Dualie, I would not be too surprised if you were right about the Tablet eventually replacing the current MacBook. Just not Real Soon Now. Look above to see what I said about “Complex Gestures” and my wife. A whole lot of people will want the larger screen and the physical keyboard. Which doesn’t mean Apple won’t make a marketing statement by calling it the “MacBook tablet” or some such association. “MacBook touch”?
    I’ve been working with this 13″ screen for a while now and there really isn’t quite enough room on it to do serious multi-tasking – like, two Numbers windows in use at the same time. Even scrunched to the max (min?). Though I do try. Try it with a 9″ or 10″ screen and … not even with my glasses on.

  15. Apple is allergic to keys and buttons, and doesn’t like to have a lot of SKUs.

    So I won’t be surprised if the next Apple keyboard has no keys. A long touch pad would do nicely, and since the virtual keys would be in software, they could reduce all their keyboards to one SKU for the whole world.

  16. “… Apple may be asking users to learn a somewhat complex new vocabulary of finger gestures to control it …”

    Actually, what Apple has devised will be called ‘multi-sign’. As ‘R2’ referred to in his post, it will use American Sign Language, but not in a touch interface.

    Instead, utilizing it’s built in iSight camera, it will recognize the well known system developed for the deaf, ensuring a handsfree method of operation. This will indeed create a steep learning curve for it’s users.

    Steve Jobs just couldn’t stand the thought of a bunch of fat assed, greasy fingered chip-munchers laying their grubby hands on his awesomely beautiful new creation.

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