The INEVITABLE Changes The iSlate Will Create

None of you pay attention.

Just because people are experiencing things doesn’t mean they have any insight into them.

Bellwether by Connie Willis

Those words are in the forefront of my mind as we approach January 26, the rumored iSlate announcement date.


Bob Lefsetz again provoked my thinking with a new post where he recommends a video featuring Apple’s designer, Jonathan Ive.

Since he doesn’t embed videos, I will, after the break.

Now watch this before reading on. It’s worth it.

I’m going to highlight some vital quotes:

I guess it’s one of the curses of what you do that you’re constantly looking at something and thinking, “Why … why is it like that? Why is it like that and not like this?”

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Have all of you forgotten the introduction of the iPhone?

What is the tagline on that slide? Apple reinvents the phone.

What was the phone like prior to that day? This:

And what was the widespread thinking before that day? This:

We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.

And do you recall this from that day?

Have all of you forgotten what a revolution scrolling alone was on the iPhone?

Ever since that day, people expect all screens to act just like that. And we snicker — or outright laugh — in scorn when they don’t or when multitouch is laggy or even altogether absent.

Jonathan Ive again:

Other issues would be, you know, just physically, How do you connect to the product? So, for example, something like the iPhone, everything defers to the display.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

“Everything defers to the display” is no small thing!

And Ive finally:

A lot of what we seem to be doing in a product like that is actually getting design out of the way. And I think when forms develop with that sort of reason — and they’re not just arbitrary shapes — it feels almost inevitable. It feels almost undesigned. It feels almost like, Well, of course it’s that way. I mean, you know, Why wouldn’t it be any other way?

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Do any of you have that feeling right now, sitting in front of a vertical monitor with keyboard and mouse? Look around on your screen right now. How much clutter is there? Scrollbars, browser tabs, cursor or mouse pointer, bookmark bar, URL address box, drop-down menu bar, title bar, and more and more and more.

Is any of that deferring to the display?


Those who see the iSlate as just “a bigger iPhone” should leave the Internet. You have nothing to say, period. Join Ed Colligan in obscure and STFU Now retirement.

Get some damned insight into the way we’ve been forced to do things because of the people trapped in legacy thinking who have forced all of this upon us.

None of it feels inevitable. None of it feels “Aha! Yes, that’s it!”

The iSlate is going to change all of that. Apple isn’t reinventing the phone this time.

Apple is reinventing the entire computing experience.

Everything we are doing right now is going to change to defer to that iSlate display.

The vertical screen and mouse are dead.

Because touch isn’t just how to do things — it’s an entire way of doing things.

It’s a brand new vocabulary. A new grammar.

Get some insight into this.

Apple created an SDK for the iPhone. All that does is allow developers to follow Apple’s lead.

The iSlate is going to demand much more from developers and from anyone who designs for a screen.

The Internet as we have been experiencing it is over.

A new Internet that is entirely touch-based and defers to the screen is ahead of us.

This is a bigger change than moving writing from hand-scrawled rolled-up manuscripts to bound pages in books with type.

This is a bigger change than moving from ASCII-based Bulletin-Board Systems to the graphic and video and audio Internet we have known.

The fine print of the iSlate is going to overthrow the current Internet. Everyone will design for it as the minimum hardware platform. Stop to think about websites — they’ll no longer chug along and make us steam in frustration. They’ll act as smoothly and as quickly as an app (setting aside 3G FAILs of the sort AT&T engages in).

Just as the Internet has changed everything that was once done, the iSlate is going to change how the Internet itself has done things.

This isn’t about “a bigger iPhone” — it’s all about everything.

And Apple will make it all feel inevitable.

Previously here:

Two Vital Issues ALL Tablets Makers Are Ignoring
Oh Give It Up. Steve Jobs Wins.
The 7 Principles Of Apple
The Fine Print = Apple iTablet WIN!
How To Do Touch Right And Wrong
The iPod Decade And The Steve Jobs Effect
Touch Will Change Everything

10 Responses to The INEVITABLE Changes The iSlate Will Create

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mikecane: @eBookNewser @jane_l @russmarshalek @KatMeyer @Booksquare @wmacphail @ericrumsey

  2. Badtux says:

    Dude. You’re hyperventilating. I write Internet software for a living and there is no (zero) chance we would *ever* write software assuming an iSlate as the minimum platform. The majority of the hits we get on our websites are from crappy $450 HP laptops bought three years ago by random non-geek people on the street. You don’t see that because you run a website by geeks for geeks, but most people are *not* geeks — and most Internet traffic isn’t by geeks either nowdays. This isn’t 2000 anymore. The Internet’s gone mainstream, with blue-haired grannies, Iowa corn farmers, New York auto mechanics, and Los Angeles construction workers as well represented as geeks. And none of these people buy Apple products — they can’t afford them — and for that matter, none of them buy a new computer until their old one craps out and can no longer function.

    Reality, dude. Us well-paid geeks who can afford Apple products aren’t reality, we’re a cult (I say that as an iFool typing this on a MBP with an iPhone three feet away). Dealing with actual customers of non-geek web sites, you suddenly get a much different picture of the typical Internet user.

    Would an iSlate be a genre-changer? No doubt. Real touch screen support in the OS (vs. the various hacks done for Microsoft OS’s) alone would make it a genre-changer. But it’s clear from everything Jobs has said that his goal is going after netbooks with something he feels is a better answer to the question asked by netbooks (“what is the minimum device needed to browse the Internet, do email, etc.?”). It won’t obsolete eBook readers — you can’t do a full-featured OS with e-ink, e-ink is simply too slow, and without e-ink you can’t get multi-week battery life needed for an eBook reader — and it won’t change the world, anymore than the iPhone did (I like my iPhone, but it doesn’t do anything that my Palm Treo didn’t do in 2003, indeed there’s some things the Treo did better, like one-handed operation while I need two hands to operate the iPhone, too bad Palm didn’t update the platform to keep its web browser and email client competitive). Keep some perspective here, dude — Apple makes some incredibly well-sorted-out products, but of everything they’ve done in the past ten years, only the iPod actually changed the world, and that’s because it was cheap consumer technology rather than expensive geek technology. Unless this supposed iSlate sells for under $500 — which is unlikely — it’s just going to be more expensive geek technology like my Macbook Pro, not some world-changing thing. Grannies, mechanics, and construction workers simply can’t afford anything over $500, and they — not us — are the majority of the world.

    • mikecane says:

      Thanks for the laugh, for assuming I’m sitting here with a Mac Pro or something. This is a crappy 1.6GHz Celeron(!). It is basically a desktop *netbook*, OK? Not day goes by that I’m not cursing at some damned site with cloggy JScript or something else that hangs Firefox and makes me crash-exit and relaunch it. If anything, you make my point that an iSlate would *improve* the Net by making the geeks pay attention to a lower set of minimal system requirements — instead, as you have, assume everyone has a multi-core multi-GHZ multi-GBs of RAM desktop paid for by their employer (come now, you know as I do most Internet access is done while at work! Ha!).

      • Badtux says:

        The platforms we are writing for are crappy 3 to 5 year old bottom-of-the-barrel single-core $450 Windows XP machines or netbooks. And my MBP is way more powerful than my system at work, which is a five-year-old single-core Dell desktop with 512kb of memory and an 80GB hard drive. Every business I’ve worked in for the past ten years, my personal computer at home was more powerful than anything available to employees at work because they bought bottom of the barrel then kept them for five years before retiring them.

        Steve Jobs has made known his disdain for netbooks, the platform we’re targeting today with our software because the majority of new computer sales to individuals today are netbooks. He basically states that the specs on netbooks simply aren’t sufficient for a reasonable user experience. Any iSlate that comes out of Apple is likely going to have better specs than any netbook platform we’re targeting today. Indeed, if you’re looking for the *real* minimum, one of the things we’re doing is writing *iPhone* compatibility into our new web sites…

        • mikecane says:

          >>>Indeed, if you’re looking for the *real* minimum, one of the things we’re doing is writing *iPhone* compatibility into our new web sites…

          Well that was my point. I think you mistook applications for my point — which was the Internet experience. Soon you will be doing iSlate versions of those sites. That was my point.

  3. robinson says:

    This is a brilliant, prescient essay! Well done. You are right on target and have provided an insight that no other Apple tablet watcher has.

    You are absolutely right! This device will change everything!

  4. MikeMc says:

    You should take a look at the Lenovo U1 ( It’s a CULV Win7 laptop that converts to an 11.6″ Linux tablet by detaching the screen. This is the new reality.

  5. ianf says:

    Funny thing though, a month later, both Badtux and mikecane are proven right—if only in overlapping, not equal, portions. Because in the meantime Apple DID announce a >US$500 unit for those “grannies, mechanics, and construction workers” who can not afford anything above that! All that while introducing new form-factor/usage/handling PARADIGM where “vertical screen and mouse” perhaps aren’t dead yet, but have been palmfaced with the writing on the wall (pardon me metaphors).

    No, the desktops, netbooks etc., (of current foldover shape) won’t “go away,” far too many people are comfortable with tactile keyboard input, but when their current systems start failing, their owners will be replacing them with iPads and iPad-“lookylikes” from other manufacturers – those, who already learned the lesson of the iPhone’s impact on the basic form and usage patterns of a smartphone….

    So, yes, we’re in for a repeat “performance” of Apple’s, only this time targeting ENTRY-LEVEL COMPUTERS FOR THE REST OF US, not cellphones for the upper segment of the mobile market.

    • mikecane says:


      Was the iPhone “entry-level” compared to other phones? Readjust your paradigms.

  6. ianf says:

    No, iPhone was an item for the elite, “upper segment of the mobile market” (which is why majority of all phones sold are bread-and-butter Nokias, etc). Whereas the iPad is all “entry-level,” both in terms of data creation; and as a stepping stone to better equipment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: