Prediction: Apple’s Next 2 iPads: iPad iChat & iPad One

When the first rumors of the iPad began circulating – I immediately dismissed them on the grounds it wasn’t clear to me how a tablet fit into Apple’s deliberately simple product line.

I’m still not convinced it does.

It could be argued there’s enough space between the iPod Touch and the Mac Book for another product – but it could be easily argued the $400 – $900 is actually a black hole for consumer electronics. Too costly to be considered disposable, too cheap to be elite.

Enter the Apple iPad.

Aimed squarely – if awkwardly – at that price point.

Awkwardly – because the iPad is, essentially a stretched iPod Touch. Or more accurately – a stretched iPhone without the phone part. With a higher price point of both. (There’s an interesting argument in thinking of the iPad as Apple TV version 3 – but that’s for a different post.)

In addition to awkwardly straddling a space between Apple’s product lines – the iPad’s currently announced feature set feels simultaneously too little and too much. The combination of the open Web and constrained App Store at the software level and free WiFi and subscription-fee AT&T at the hardware level continues to feel like a conflict of intention.

So I predict Apple will quickly extend the iPad family by this time in 2011:

  • iPad iChat: webcam1, microphone, no AT&T – just WiFi, $699. This would finally fulfill The Future’s promise of portable video phones. Only WiFi because AT&T wouldn’t want to risk their 3G network stability. This would also be the Kitchen computing device – hang it on the wall, talk with extended family while making dinner, or voice control the playback of a NetFlix streaming movie, etc.
  • iPad One: only App Store, no web browser, no WiFi – just AT&T, $399. Think of this as Simple Finder as a distinct device. The complexity and unknowns of the ‘raw’ internet completely removed.

Elsewhere:

“All this argument over whether the iPad is too simple — if anything it’s probably still too complex.” – John Gruber, Daring Fireball

1. According to CrunchGear, the current iPad already thinks it has a webcam anyway.

5 Replies to “Prediction: Apple’s Next 2 iPads: iPad iChat & iPad One”

  1. I think you’re off on the “iPad One” — web browsers are a must. Interesting idea though.

    As for the video chat bit, I’m not sure. On one hand, yes absolutely — the only thing it is missing is a camera, and what a great thing to demo. On the other hand, video chat is a messy technology: In theory, everyone loves the idea, but in practice people rarely use it — even when they could. I’m not sure why the there is this social resistance to the tech, but audio-only phone calls always feel much more efficient.

    Overall, it’s hard to see the long-term trends, but one thing I feel fairly certain of: We are at the beginning of the end of the “desktop” computing era. Computers that have “desktops” are going to diminish while desktop-less appliances like the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad are going to increase.

    Cheers!
    Peter

  2. I too was a little surprised at the lack of a camera for video conferencing, at first. Then it dawned on me that I’ve had the ability to do this for years with my laptop and haven’t. I don’t think people want this. For most, voice or IM are intimate enough.

  3. I couldn’t agree more about the iPad iChat. Video conferencing is FAR and AWAY the killer app for this device. It’s something that would simply be awkward on an iPhone or iPod but the iPad is the PERFECT device for video conferencing. It could change communication as we know it, business and personal.

  4. 2 features I think make the iPad totally useful in its in between status…

    USB port and video cam.

    Better in price and as mobile utility (as in 3G) than the MacAir (cheaper too) but less the ability to video chat/conference (which I use) and to simply plug in a thumb drive and transfer some files to/from a friend or colleague.

    Everything else sounds very exciting. Don’t even mind having apps tailored to iPad use (which is different from the same apps for my MacBook Pro). That all makes sense.

    I just want at least 1 USB port. And a video cam.

  5. In my house iChat has nothing to do with video conferencing and everything to do with teenage girls and their friends. It’s not enough to talk, text and type…

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