by Tom Kaneshige

Is the Mysterious Apple Tablet Even a Computer?

May 19, 20092 mins
MobileSmall and Medium Business

Self-described Apple enthusiast and college professor Todd Lovett tells me I’ve got it all wrong: Apple isn’t coming out with a 10-inch tablet, as my earlier blog post suggests.

He thinks the big touchscreen won’t be part of a computer at all, rather it’ll be the coolest iPhone accessory ever—and he might be right.

It’s a neat idea that plays perfectly into Apple’s ability to reinvent entire product categories. Here is Lovett’s vision: an iPhone docking station with a 10-inch touchscreen, a battery, some 16 gigs of flash memory, a USB port, and maybe graphics accelerators. The station might even take advantage of the iSight camera built into the iPhone.

So what would you have? For starters, it’s a way for iPhone-toting folks to upgrade to a kind of netbook for surfing the Web, emailing and creating documents with a bigger screen and keyboard. Most importantly, the docking station would undercut the $500 price point for netbooks. It’s cheap because you’re not actually buying a new computer; your iPhone runs OS X, as well as thousands of applications already available for it.

Simply put, PC manufacturers wouldn’t have anything comparable—at least, not right away—and thus Apple would own the reinvented netbook market.

PC users with iPhones would suddenly have an affordable on-ramp to the Mac OS. A packaged iPhone with docking station that costs as much as a netbook would be a compelling offering for people on the iPhone or netbook fence.

And that’s not all. Lovett figures an iPhone with the docking station could change the mobile gaming industry. Forget the Nintendo DSi or Sony PSP. The docking station will turn the iPhone into a traveling Wii. “Apple becomes a major player in the gaming world overnight,” Lovett says.

Stay tuned for the rebuttal.

Got a different take? Send me an email at Tom Kaneshige. Or follow me on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline.