Cupertino Dreamin’

Xiao Yun Road, Inbound
Is this fog, or did someone flock the smog?
1607 hrs.

Sitting here in Beijing and placating my inner frustrated geek as I will yet again miss both the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and MacWorld in San Francisco, I take consolation that I am not among those thousands of marketers spending the end of December prepping for those early January Techfests.

For us Apple fanboys, this is the time of year we all speculate about what Apple CEO Steve Jobs will unveil at MacWorld. I will resist the temptation to speculate. What I will do, however, is frame out the device that I want Apple to deliver. (Attention Apple attorneys: this is not a formal suggestion, merely wishful thinking, so do not send me any letters telling me that you don’t want any unsolicited product ideas.)

I will call it “iPad.”

The iPad would be a tablet Macintosh, running OS X Leopard and all of my critical software. It will not only have superior pen input options, it will also have the multi-touch interface from the iPhone. Mouse? What mouse? Use the pointing device G-d gave you. Want to type? Click an icon and a touchscreen keyboard pops up on the lower half of the screen, allowing you to type away directly.

The device would be no more than 1″ thick, and probably thiner – maybe 25mm – so it would be comfortable to tuck under our arm. iPad would have a 40gb solid-state hard drive (no moving parts, low power drain, fast startups) for the operating system and your applications, a standard 120gb hard drive (usually spun-down) for saving files, and a DVD-ROM drive. Write on it. Draw on it. Watch movies on it. And count on 4-5 hours of battery life. Carry it all with you into a meeting, use it the same way you would use a legal pad.

iPad would be a communications monster, with bluetooth, wi-fi, and a 3G mobile phone built in so you are connected by every conceivable means, and the device will serve as a voice communicator as well. Underneath the long-life battery would be a spot to slide in a SIM card so you can use the operator of your choice when you travel. A built-in camera and all of the usual connection ports would be there as well, of course.

iPad would naturally come with a few new applications, like FingerPaint, which would allow you to do just as it says.

Naturally, the key Apple software developers – including Microsoft – would announce updates of their products that would take full advantage of the iPad’s capabilities. Microsoft Office 2008 with settings that will allow finger and pen input should be no problem – Redmond has had tablet-focused features for a few years now.

At the show, Apple would also introduce a whole new line of large screen displays based on the multi-touch technology, all designed for the MacPro workstations and built into their all-in-one iMacs. These new Apple CinemaTouch Displays – at 23″, 27″ and 30″ – would bring that cool iPhone touch technology to desktop Macs. Ideally, you could set the displays down like a drafting table, adjusting the angle so you could comfortably and ergonomically use the screen as the input device.

Finally, of course, Steve would announce the opening of Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai.

My other MacWorld wishes:

  • Microsoft and Bungee would announce Halo 3 Mac.
  • Microsoft would announce Flight Simulator OSX for Mac.
  • Belkin would announce a new MacBook Pro car charger, and either Belkin, Apple, or both would announce a full line of solar-power chargers for iPods, iPhones, MacBooks, and MacBook Pros.
  • Kensington would announce a wheeled computer travel case for the MacBookPro to replace my thrashed Samsonite model.

Naturally, I expect none of this to happen. But a guy can dream.