Stefan Constantinescu of IntoMobile has written a lengthy piece dissecting the long, tortuous history of the Newton II/Apple Tablet/iTablet/Tablet Mac. It's a pretty comprehensive look at seven years worth of speculation, rumor, outlandish analyst claims, more speculation, more rumor, and event after event with no release of what's become Apple's most infamous vaporware product.
The article is definitely worth a read (as long as you're not sensitive to its occasionally salty language), but the conclusion Constantinescu reaches at the end of the article is perhaps most interesting of all:
"The Apple Tablet does not exist. What do I believe will happen? [...] I believe what will be announced at the end of this year, or early next year, is a new MacBook with a 10 or 11.6 inch screen. The screen may or may not be touch enabled. This will be the first Mac portable with a 16:9 aspect ratio LCD. Why wide? One reason: foot print. With a wide LCD, a laptop in the open/closed position can house a wider keyboard."
While that certainly sounds plausible, there's one thing I have to wonder: aside from a slightly wider keyboard and a possible touch screen, what distinguishes that theoretical miniature MacBook from the glut of netbooks made by other manufacturers, products that Apple has derided as underpowered machines that provide a dismal user experience?
While Apple does have a history of taking existing products, putting their own spin on them, and gaining industry laurels for innovation as a result (iMac, iPod), the introduction of a product like the one Constantinescu is talking about seems a little bit too much "Me too!" even for Apple. Such a device would also heavily cannibalize sales of the MacBook Air, to the point of making that device largely irrelevant.
After reading this piece, our own Aron Trimble noted, "I don't think it makes any more sense to speculate on what Apple will not do than to speculate on what Apple will do." Despite the fact that I pretty much did just the same thing, I agree with him.
The only thing that's certain about all of this: until Apple releases something like an iTablet, or definitively says "We will never, ever make this product, and we mean it, pinky swear!" the speculation will never end.
What do you think? Do you agree with Constantinescu that the long-rumored Tablet Mac will never see the light of day? Let us know in the comments.
(Picture by Adam Benton for MacFormat magazine)