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Portables (Apple) Businesses Patents Hardware Apple

Apple Patents Tablet Mac (with Photos) 565

jkheit writes "I wrote a quick news item over at the Mac Observer that might be of interest. Apple patents a tablet Mac. The new photos confirm that this device is a touch-screen Apple tablet. You can see it here."
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Apple Patents Tablet Mac (with Photos)

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:35PM (#12493879)
    It looks like one of those smart-screen devices that can replace input and display of a desktop computer to allow the user to roam around the wifi-enabled area with the power of a beefy pc but the heft of little more than a pocket pc. It's kind of like a wireless thin-client, I guess. Coming from Apple, I'd bet it's battery life is 12 hrs. +......

    Could be interesting; too bad the article is so light on details.

  • by Ty ( 15982 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:35PM (#12493880)
    Ummm the mp3 market used to be a niche market. Who has about an 80% market share now?
  • Re:Patent? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheHonestTruth ( 759975 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:35PM (#12493883) Journal
    gg preview button. "They only have rights to that specifc design, or against someone making a device with that specific design," is what I meant to say.


  • Re:Patent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aqua OS X ( 458522 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:40PM (#12493918)
    "Like no one has ever thought of making a tablet before? There has to be more to this if it is true."

    Ya, but this is exactly what people said when Apple made the iPod.
    Apple likes to swoop on good ideas that have been poorly implemented in the past. MP3 players, jukebox software, online music stores, video chat, etc etc. None of this stuff was new, but Apple found a way to make it more accessible and desirable.
  • billions? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sean Clifford ( 322444 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:40PM (#12493922) Journal
    >>how big is the market for a niche product >>from a niche computer manufacturer


    When the iPod went mainstream it ate everyone's lunch, but at first it was a niche product from a niche computer manufacturer. Now white headphones are becoming as ubiquitous as cell phones.

    I'll reserve judgement until I see an iTablet, but the general idea isn't making me all gooey inside either. Who's to say whether it'll make the light of day.

    I'd be very surprised if Apple launched an iTablet. Totally shocked if they dusted off the Newton idea.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:44PM (#12493948)
    Now I understand why they have been so stuck on 1 button!!!

    A touchpad!

    Oooohh.. Jobs was ahead of the curve all along... :-)
  • by kimota ( 136493 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:47PM (#12493978)
    >how big is the market for a niche product from a niche computer manufacturer?

    You mean like the iPod? Pretty big, I'd say, depending on the application.

    Steve Jobs has made comments about the iPod not lending itself to being a decent video player due to its tiny display. A tablet, on the other hand....
  • Not a sure thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kesh ( 65890 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:52PM (#12494002)
    Figures. I get to moderate for the first time in weeks, and it's a topic I really need to comment on. ;)

    That said, just because Apple has a patent doesn't mean they're going to ever build the thing. Personally, though, I hope this turns out to be the announcement at WWDC. I'd love to have a tablet Mac, just for reading places like here on the couch. My laptop is nice, but not too comfortable... though the keyboard is more useful for chat or long replies.

    It's certainly a niche design, so I could see Apple patenting a decent design that their engineers came up with even if they never build the product. That way, they can always change their mind later if the market really wants an Apple tablet.
  • Um, no. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MadMacSkillz ( 648319 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:52PM (#12494009) Homepage
    Words per minute I can type: about 80 Words per minute I can handwrite: about 15 Why do I need a tablet again?
  • Re:Using Tiger (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:08PM (#12494148) Homepage
    Don't forget this has other uses. For example you could mount your LCD on a swivel stand or on your wall in portrait mode, then use function to make the screen "right side up".

    If Apple did this, I would expect the screen to automatically rotate what is "up" based on how you hold the tablet. The little gyro in the latest PowerBooks should be enough to allow them to do that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:15PM (#12494199)
    Spoken like someone who doesn't remember the pre-iPod MP3 player days. They were not, I assure you, a "hit".
  • by mu-sly ( 632550 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:21PM (#12494242) Homepage Journal

    How about the "iPad"...?

  • Re:Mac (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:24PM (#12494265)
    It's internally contradictory to call someone attacking an apple product a fag.
  • a Mac tablet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:33PM (#12494353)
    A MacOSX tablet would rock. Tablets may not be that exciting by themselves but with OSX? UNIX wherever you are, turn the thing into a terminal and watch videos on it streamed off your mac mini in the other room; instant on feature lets you use it to take notes at lectures; capture video with built in videocam; use your soon to be released ipod/motorola phone combo thingy as a remote control to change the channel, etc. Sure, it's all stuff you can do with a mini laptop and a TV set now but when Apple does this it will be much snappier, trust me ;)
  • I imagine that is referring to an interface to Inkwell []. Inkwell is primarily useful for users of Wacom [] tablets. You know, those things that let you draw with a pen? Well, Inkwell will let you use it for handwriting recognition and as a mouse as well. Inkwall has existed in OS X since Jaguar (Mac OS X 10.2). To sum it all up, this is nothing new and is no golden arrow pointing towards the amazing future of Apple tablets. Please be careful not to throw misguided bread crumbs out that the Mac rumor sites will try to build nests out of.
  • by Beebos ( 564067 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:58PM (#12494507)
    You could make a good arguement that the Newton was the original implementation of the tablet computer.
  • by -Harlequin- ( 169395 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:04PM (#12494548)
    Note that this patent is for a finger touchscreen tablet like a PDA, and my tablet has a wacom pressure-sensitive pen digitizer in the screen.

    This is interesting. A year ago, I was predicting that Apple would get on the tablet bandwagon (and possibly pull off another ipod), because tablets are so suited to art, which is ostensibly one of apples big markets. (I have a normal wacom digitizer on my desktop, but I find I prefer to use the screen digitiser of may tablet for photoshop, etc, - even though the CRT of the desktop beats any LCD on a portable).

    Yet their design is for a finger touch screen. This would make for perhaps a better interface than pen for something simple like an ebook or portable video player (a video ipod allowing you rent DRMed movies from apple :-), but not so useful as an art / design machine (my understanding is that to have both pressure-sensitive pen and finger, you would need two seperate, difference hardware systems on the screen, which would be expensive).

    I have a convertable tablet (it operates in slate and laptop mode), and my experience is that it is a vast improvement over laptops when in laptop mode, but slate mode, while kind of cool, it typically limited to low-input tasks like watching DVDs, because I type at twice the speed I write.

    So I doubt this tablet is going to be marketed as a mac. It may contain a mac, but it's going to take aim at more specialised tasks.

    Unless they stick one of those laser keyboards on it that convert any flat surface into a keyboard. It's about time someone built one of those into a slate computer.

    And now that epaper is becoming possible, ebook readers that failed to suck might be another ipod waiting to happen.
  • Re:Patent? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dr.badass ( 25287 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:05PM (#12494557) Homepage
    this is rather like apple's patent on the itunes interface. problematic by itself, and depressing if it becomes a precedent for future patent maneuvering.

    A design patent is not quite the same as what one normally thinks of when talking about patents. Basically all this move indicates is that nobody can release a tablet that looks like what Apple would design. It's meant to prevent rip-offs, not stifle innovation. Of course, I fully expect someone to claim that rip-offs are innovative.
  • Re:Patent? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dr.badass ( 25287 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:19PM (#12494650) Homepage
    Because Apple computers are toys that people like to accessorize with???

    It's more like Apple is the only computer maker that has a significant investment in design, and thus the only one with a reason to protect that investment.
  • by michaeldot ( 751590 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:23PM (#12494676)
    Slightly sarcastic? But indeed you're right. My Tablet PC works much better with software designed with just one button in mind.

    While most tablet styluses come with a right-button in the lower half of the pen, they're often easy to accidentally press and many users like myself instead disable it and set the tablet settings to treat a TAP-AND-HOLD as a right-click.

    When you're not holding a mouse, "right-clicking" a tablet is a slower means of interacting. Software designed with one button in mind works much more efficiently and naturally.

    This is quite important, as until Tablet PC "takes off" (it hasn't by any means), most software that runs on is mainstream, non-tablet-aware software. An OS which encourages one-mouse development could have a distinct advantage.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:29PM (#12494715)
    Umm ummm ummm, yeah, it did. But the MP3 market was a niche market because the technology was not popular and Apple created a player people liked.

    Apple's computers and notebooks are marketed as "upper class" computers. They are clearly not competing with the PCs if you look at their price, their hardware lock-in, and their software.

    I imagine their tablet PCs will go into the same niche market rather than into the broader one. Which is probably fine with Apple since they seem to be making plenty of money from this niche.
  • Re:billions? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cosmic_0x526179 ( 209008 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:45PM (#12494792)
    In Steve Jobs' dreams perhaps. There were almost 700 million cell phones sold last year and an estimated 800-900 million this year.

    The grandparent post is more correct than you give it credit for. A cellphone is used for how many minutes per hour on average... maybe 5 ? An average iPod owner probably exceeds 30 mins per hour average usage. So, if you multiply the number of iPods sold by the visibility factor the iPod is becoming ubiquitous.

  • Re:Haha... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by passion ( 84900 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @10:00PM (#12494861)

    umm... cuz it runs OSX?

  • Re:billions? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nacturation ( 646836 ) <> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @11:19PM (#12495437) Journal
    An average iPod owner probably exceeds 30 mins per hour average usage.

    By your calculations, Calvin Klein thong underwear for men will soon be more popular than cell phones because its users probably wear the underwear for upwards of 14 hours a day continuous!
  • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @11:29PM (#12495515)
    Ummm the mp3 market used to be a niche market. Who has about an 80% market share now?

    An MP3 player is just a modern Walkman. The "Walkman market" hasn't been "niche" for about twenty years.

    "Niche" != "immature".

    The tablet PC market is niche. It's niche because its practical applications - advantageously over existing alternatives - are very small.

    MP3 players have never been a niche market. They've been am *immature and growing* market, but the idea of a "pocket music player" hasn't been a niche market since the late 70s/early 80s.

  • Re:Um, no. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @01:12AM (#12496083)
    ...for doing all the things that a computer can do besides typing? (don't you think this potential device would have a usb port for your keyboard?)

    wait, wait, i have an even better answer: if it has finger-touch screen technology, why couldn't you type right on the screen on a displayed keyboard? (i use one of those Fingerworks keyboards which is not so dissimilar.)

    in short, your question is myopic.
  • Re:what i heard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by putaro ( 235078 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:11AM (#12496573) Journal
    He's correct, vis-a-vis Newton. This was not a Newton, though - this was a Mac Powerbook in tablet form. It would have been sold at the Mac pricepoint, not the Newton pricepoint. Probably the hand writing recognition never worked well enough and it wasn't feasible at the time to make a keyboard that you could stow out of the way in tablet mode.
  • Re:Patent? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by kahei ( 466208 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @05:55AM (#12497070) Homepage

    Apple likes to swoop on good ideas that have been poorly implemented in the past.

    That's right folks! And we call this process 'innovation'! Try an example sentence: The iPod is a product of Apple's 'innovation'!

    Now, when icky companies do it, the process has a different name. We call it 'copying'! Example sentence: Windows is a product of Micro$oft's 'copying'!

    Remember, this material will appear in your Slashdot Exam! Those not scoring 100% will be beaten on the head with penguin dolls until they conform! Conform! CONFORM!


  • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3&yahoo,com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @07:48AM (#12497481) Homepage Journal
    What killed the Newton was syncronization.

    Nope. what really killed Newton was 3 simple words:

    Eat... up... martha.

  • by Khelder ( 34398 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @08:47AM (#12497782)
    I used a Newton for years (first the original MessagePad and then the MP100). For me, the fatal flaw was that it was both too big and too small:

    * Too big to fit in my pocket so I could carry it with me everywhere
    * Too small to be able to see very much data at once

    On the plus side, the interface was amazing. It was actually designed to be used with a pen, not just a modified desktop UI.

    So now I use a Palm, because it lets me have my calendar and contact info with me all the time (as well as other stuff, of course, but the main thing I use it for is calendar and contacts). And its interface is ok.

    But I still miss my Newton. I'd love to have a Newtonesque tablet. Even one with a display the size of a steno pad would be excellent.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong