Apple's Tablet Must Fold In Order to Be a Game Changer

Jan.20.10 | About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

I am excited, like many others, about Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new "creation" that is being announced this month. However, it's probably going to be a disappointment due to lack of portability. This is a device that is more than likely going to spend most of its time at our desks.

The great thing about the iPhone is it's a computer WE CAN TAKE WITH US. 10 inches or even 7 inches on the low side is too big unless it's foldable. That's what made it such a game changer.

I'll fall out of my chair if this thing is somehow made portable by Apple.

The dream device here would be a foldable OLED screen that sits at 4 inches in your pocket and folds out to 8 to 10 inches. We are not going to get it. The technology is simply not there yet. We are more likely to get a glorified type kindle device that sits just below a laptop.

However, there are are a couple things that are pretty likely:

  • It's going to have a screen around 10 inches.
  • It's likely to run a variation of the IPhone OS rather than the Mac OS
  • It's not going to have a OLED Screen. Unless Apple has a secret factory off of Hokkaido island nobody knows about, there isn't the production capacity available to produce that many OLEDs. Also, the price point would be too high for a 10 inch device using OLED (several thousand dollars to make these at 10 inches). One of the casualties of the recession is OLED screens have not reached scale economies as fast as others have expected.
  • One big question is the air interface. Will it have built in 3G or 4G as an air interface and will there be pre-existing sales agreements with carriers to subsidize the device? I've gone back and forth on this multiple times but my gut is no. Apple probably wants to keep the price somewhat close to the Macbook, so it won't do carrier deals that push the price way down. Pricing will be somewhere around $799 +- $100.
  • I do think this product will represent a merging into the iPhone / iPod family. While there won't be a new iPhone announcement, there will be a OS 4.0 update. Eventually these products should go all on the same product cycle.
  • There is supposed to be some sort of interesting or odd input mechanism-- I have no idea what it is and I am skeptical it will be that interesting. Eventually, the big input mechanism is going to be your voice and the importance of all those multi-touch patents will become less important.
  • This will be a great device for watching movies, TV shows via the internet, music and your local and national newspapers. Lots of content deals are already rumored with premium subscriptions rumored at the NY Times and elsewhere. These kind of deals are going to be great for struggling publishers that have unique content and look to lure back subscribers that want to subscribe once again.
  • I think there will be wireless syncing of calendar and contacts using the new OS 4.0.

In short, the big let downs I think will be i) no air interface built in other than Wi-Fi 2) not portable 3) no OLED.

I think the killer here would be a device that through folding or other mechanisms can fit in your pocket yet scales out to a 8-10 inch screen. On the air interface, the dream is no voice plan, simply a VOIP data plan that allows you to select either Wimax / CDMA or LTE / GSM. Pure data, with all your video, music, newspapers, and content on the go with you all the time. Not quite there yet.

Disclosure: I am Long Apple.