Is Apple’s Tablet The iPod Air?

Can the Touch Revive Apple’s iPod Sales?

“We view the iPod market as bigger than the market for simple music players,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer. “We believe one of the iPod’s future directions is to become the first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform.”

Emphasis added by me.

Do any of you understand the boldness of that statement? And what was just tipped?

James Kendrick at JK on the Run noticed something even before the above was published:

Having an iPod Touch with largely the same functionality of the iPhone proves to me how savvy Apple is about this stuff. They will have effectively removed the carrier, something that no company such as Apple likes to play ball with, from the iPhone in the iPod Touch. Sure you won’t have all of that Edge goodness in the US, but you don’t have AT&T to worry about either. Jobs is so crafty.

Oh he is!

Everyone hailing the new MacBook Air as The New Thing has it all wrong. It’s just a lighter notebook. Sure, perhaps a secondary computer, but how many people don’t already have that?

I think Cringely is right about how limited that market is:

It is very doubtful that Apple will sell a million Airs in the next year. It is doubtful Apple will sell even half a million Airs and Steve Jobs knows this. What’s important here is not the subnotebook computer but the bits of it that will likely make their way into much more interesting Apple products to come.

I see Apple notebooks all over the place. Apple just sold a ton of them last month as Christmas gifts. I don’t see those people getting rid of a month-old brand-new notebook for the Air.

Cringely especially understands how the chip business works:

Take that specially packaged Intel CPU, how did that come about? Steve Jobs didn’t beat the heck out of Intel CEO Paul Otellini to get a little CPU that would go into fewer than half a million boxes. Steve did what he always does. He beat the heck out of Paul Otellini with the promise that this little CPU — for which we can expect Apple will hold some exclusive for the next six months — will end up in millions and millions of Apple products, nearly all of them costing a lot less than a MacBook Air.

Emphasis added by me.

The thing that Apple has sold in the “millions and millions” is the iPod.

Even people who don’t understand or even like computers have iPods.

Just as “Macintosh” has come to symbolize a certain je nais se quoi, so has the term “iPod.”

Ask the few Zune owners how many times they’ve had people ask where they got “that brown iPod.”

The iPod has established itself in the minds of everyone in these ways:

1) You don’t need to be a geek to use it

2) It’s just about as simple to use as a TV

3) It’s inexpensive enough to buy on an impulse

Apple has slowly been expanding the definition of the iPod from a single-purpose music-player to a device that can display a calendar, show photos, play games, and now view video.

At the top of this iPod continuum sits the iPhone.

As we’ve seen with the introduction of the iPod Touch, the iPhone really is a next-generation iPod with an embedded cellphone. With all the publicity the iPhone has received, with all the sales it has had (and still does; I was in an Apple Store Monday and people were buying iPhones!), Jobs is making headway in stretching the definition of what “iPod” means.

Jobs made the bold move of leapfrogging his established iPod models for the iPhone and then adding a phoneless iPhone to the iPod lineup. A two-prong approach that redefined the scope of what “iPod” means and what an iPod can do.

What is missing in Apple’s product lineup is exactly what the rumor mill has stated a few months ago: a tablet computer.

And I think that tablet computer will be called the iPod Air.

Apple has already established the “Air” moniker as connoting lightness, svelteness, and portability.

A tablet computer called the iPod Air would ride on those marketing coattails very easily. And it would further broaden the idea of what the iPod is by linking the idea of “iPod” (easy, un-geeky) with the idea of “Air” (a sexy computer).

I’ve got a idea for a TV ad that would nail the iPod Air in everyone’s mind:

FADE IN: That now-famous manila envelope on surface

NARRATION: In January, Apple unveiled the lightest computer ever …

MacBook Air being pulled out of envelope

NARRATION: … the MacBook Air.

MacBook Air being opened

NARRATION: And now we’re doing it again.

iPOD AIR pulled from INSIDE the MacBook Air

NARRATION: Meet the new iPod Air. A computer as easy to use an as iPod. And as light as Air.

OK, maybe it’s not the best way to do it, because I can see eejits wondering if you need to buy a MacBook Air to use the iPod Air (just as everyone thought they needed to buy a Treo to get any use out of the Foleo!). I still put that example here because I believe mostly non-eejits will be reading this post. Apple’s marketing department and ad agency will come up with the defining image. A smaller envelope, maybe? A fanny pack? A Daytimer?

Nevertheless, I believe that the Air designation will not be limited to the new MacBook. I firmly believe that an iPod Air is coming and that it will be the rumored tablet computer from Apple.

Just wait and see what applications start appearing when Apple releases the iPhone/iPod Touch SDK. Especially wait to see what new iPhone/iPod Touch applications come from Apple at that time.

I still expect two things to happen:

1) iSync being revised

2) A portable Bluetooth keyboard

People will want an iTunes-simple way of getting stuff into an iPod Air and also have the peace of mind of not losing important stuff.

People like me will scream (have been screaming!) for a Bluetooth keyboard because an on-screen keyboard for anything more than SMS/texting is not fun.

If either of those two things happen, Apple will have further revealed its hand. Just as their number cruncher, Oppenheimer, surprisingly did in that earnings call.

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38 Comments on “Is Apple’s Tablet The iPod Air?”


  1. […] course Mike has has own take on everything: he opines that the MacBook Air is the first in a line of possible thin and light Air-branded devices. Could […]

  2. James Moat Says:

    Geez, Cane I know this isn’t a tech blog but you really have an interesting take on the electronic world (and yes, I do enjoy reading it). You might be on to something or you might be on something….


  3. […] So now the question is this– was this a pleasant surprise to Apple or was this part of the grand plan all along? Are the iPhone/iPod Touch and the new MacBook Air only transitional devices toward Apple “Next Big Thing”? Is the stage now set for a truly “Mainstream Wi-Fi Mobile” device? Mike Cane makes a pretty compelling argument HERE. […]


  4. I would be quite surprised if Apple ever uses the words “iPod” and “computer” in the same ad. The iPod is not a computer in people’s minds–a point you make above–so why would Apple make that connection?

  5. lifedrivedoc Says:

    Mike,

    You’ve got this spot on! I believe that the iPod Air or something of that magnitude is only a few months away. I held out on purchasing a new Palm TX because I can see the writing on the wall. The OSX portable implementation is going to lead the way. As I suspected last January, the Mac Touch system will probably revolve around Widgets that can be easily installed and run from a non-root directory, hence decreasing the chance for viruses.

    Once the SDK is released and this “touch” system comes to fruition, I am afraid that it may be lights out for a number of companies, including our favorite. I recently had a word with Dataviz to ask if they plan to port smartlistogo to another platform. I received an email this morning asking me to talk to one of the technical advisors about the possibility of porting this to the iphone. I also received a message from the Epocrates group on the blog stating that they have already made their program compatible with OSx on the iPhone.

    The wheels are turning and you have hit this one right on the head. I totally agree with your comments.

    LDD.

  6. Art Kavanagh Says:

    “2) A portable Bluetooth keyboard”

    Yeah. The absence of Bluetooth was the main reason I had misgivings about buying the iPod touch rather than the iPhone. I went ahead with the touch anyway, reasoning that, even with Bluetooth, the iPhone didn’t have the necessary keyboard drivers etc and they might never materialize.

    The touch is wonderful but it would be nice to be able to connect a hardware keyboard.

    Your prediction of an iPod Air makes perfect sense to me — but I’m not sure that Real Steve sees things the same way.

  7. mikecane Says:

    >>>I would be quite surprised if Apple ever uses the words “iPod” and “computer” in the same ad.

    Yes, you’re absolutely right about that. Apple even dropped the term from their corporate name! I’ll leave details such as that to their wizards of marketing.

  8. mikecane Says:

    >>>The absence of Bluetooth was the main reason I had misgivings about buying the iPod touch rather than the iPhone.

    Yeah, the lack of BT on the Touch is puzzling. But Jobs did say the iPhone was meant as a productivity tool. So there *must* be a BT keyboard at some point. Perhaps not til the “iPod Air” or whatever. Or the release of the SDK. Maybe Apple won’t even do it. Maybe the BT stack will have to be hacked to allow 3rd-party KBs. That would be nasty, though.

  9. Dave Says:

    it looke like the iPod air is becoming a reality..

    check here..

    http://www.iPodair.com

  10. Lefty Says:

    …je nais se quoi…

    Sigh.

    Mike, let me give you a free clue: “On qui ne peut parler le francais, il ne faut point faire semblant.”

    That means, “Someone who can’t speak French shouldn’t ever pretend to.”

    The phrase you’re fumbling for, unsuccessfully, is “je ne sais quoi” (which literally means, “I don’t know what”), not “je nais se quoi” (which literally means, “I know a good bit less than something between ‘jack’ and ‘fuck-all’ about French”.

    “Je ne sais quoi” is one of those phrases that sounds ridiculously affected even if you do know French; if you don’t, it simply sounds moronic.

    Of course, as they say in Tokyo, “baka ni tsukeru kusuri wa nai”: “There’s no medicine that cures being an idiot.”

  11. mikecane Says:

    That’s what happens when someone looks up a French term on the Internet.

    Let that be a lesson to you, kiddies.

    You need to calm down, son. March will tell which of us is correct. Wash your neck in the meantime.

  12. Lefty Says:

    Well, looking it up on the Internet is fine: the Merriam-Webster site you point at has it, of course, correctly.

    All the research in the world can’t help you if you can’t interpret the results you get in a sensible way. Kinda like this whole iPod Air thing of yours.

    Still waiting to hear whether you’re going to accept my wager on your assertion that I’ll be sacked by Christmas.

  13. mikecane Says:

    Oh, so you’re going on about what I see now is simply a *typo*! I didn’t look into what you were really saying because I probably had it wrong and (thanks to a statin drug!) didn’t recall even linking to a source.

    Hey, I’ve already posted at PIC that I believe there’s a 90% chance ACCESS will pack it in by year’s end. Do you really expect me to waste valuable post space and time covering ACCESS? You work for a company that has no significance. Deal with it.

  14. Lefty Says:

    Heh. Okey-dokey, Mike, whatever you say. (But I’d still like a definitive “yes” or “no” on that bet, since you seem so sure of yourself.)

    I’m tellin’ you, open source mobile devices are the wave of the future, not closed ones, especially not closed ones apparently designed around the philosophy that, in the interests of “simplicity”. features will be trimmed right down to the nap in order not to complicate the lives of the poor, befuddled users of those devices.

    I can send you a picture, which you can view in the email application on the phone that Steve allows you. Can you make it your wallpaper…? If I send you an mp3 file in an email, can you make it into a ringtone…? Can you use your A2DP Bluetooth headphones with your Bluetooth-enabled iPhone…? Heck, Safari scarcely supports Javascript, much less Flash.

    The iPhone’s a footnote. Kinda like the Mac, y’ know? By the time they come out with a 3G version, I’ll be surprised if anyone will care.

    But you don’t seem to want to write about any of that, either, “Wait until March!” You’re not showing the courage of your convictions very effectively, Mike. Quelle dommage!

  15. mikecane Says:

    What, are you looking for me to lay down money? No. I won’t set that precedent. Besides, if I win, it’d mean I would be taking some of your unemployment benefits. I’m not that cruel.

    iPhone’s a footnote?! You just know you got put into the Dumbass Of 2008 hat with that, don’t you? Remember the last winner:

    http://mikecane.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/dumbass-of-the-year-ed-colligan/

    I don’t understand what you expect me to do here. Rail against the iPhone’s shortcomings? First, I don’t yet own one, so I don’t know all of them. Second, other people who *do* own them have been doing that since it came out.

    You seem to be in some weird freakout mode here that you can’t wait less than two weeks!

    And for someone who claims to be employed by a company that is allegedly going places, you sure do have lots of free time to read and post on this blog!

  16. Lefty Says:

    Okay, I guess you’d rather people didn’t read your stuff. Suits me. I’m more than happy to point out when you’re being senseless on PIC, if you prefer. More people see it there anyway, so it’s all the same to me.

    FYI, I make my own hours, Mike, always have. You should be so lucky.

  17. mikecane Says:

    You don’t realize that each of your Comments is becoming more irrational than the last?

    Why don’t you use your real name? David Beers.

  18. Lefty Says:

    FAIL, Mike.

  19. mikecane Says:

    Come back in less than two weeks. You can either gloat or prostrate yourself then.


  20. I found your site and though they are talking about the iPod air .
    Well, I currently own the official .com domain address http://www.ipodair.com . I have had many, people and domain property firms contact me regarding this domain asking do i really own it and would i like to sell it! Apparently people know something I don’t know, they really want this domain address enough to even offer large sums over it.. What should i do with this should I just hold on to it.. I just need some feedback! or Help on what to do!!!

  21. Debbie Says:

    I really think this iPod Air thing is a great tool for Apple. I’ve been doing some research and believe the hype that Apple will create a ” Tablet PC Touch Screen ” kind of like a go between for the iPod line.. but TOP of the Line.. It does make sense and I’ll probably buy it…!!

  22. Donald Says:

    Hmm i’ve just seen this on YouTube.com it may be another attempt at viral ad marketing from Apple, however very creative…

  23. Donald Says:

    Maybe this one will work…

  24. Dan Says:

    I’ve seen alot of rumors on the net regading the ” ipod air ” espesially the Apple Tablet. It would be smart Apple to follow in line with the ” air ” branding and follow it with an ipod air.

    They may be working on it already.. just how much will it be?

  25. mikecane Says:

    Now that the “iSDK” has been revealed to be only a frikkin BETA with the full thing arriving in JUNE, it now makes sense for an “iPod Air” to be announced after that. Just in time for all those Back To School sales.

    That’s if the economy isn’t fully in the toilet by then.


  26. […] of going out and buying a new device like Mike Cane’s iPod Air or the long-desired iTablet the best "iPhone next step" is a device that leverages the […]

  27. Michael B. Says:

    I seen this blog after Googling the ” iPod Air ” very interesting.. I think it is true that Apple will come out with it.. and it looks like they have already secured the domain also… http://www.ipodair.com . If you type it in it goes directly to the Apple website..

    Mike you’re right.. good research on this..who ever you are…


  28. […] course Mike has has own take on everything: he opines that the MacBook Air is the first in a line of possible thin and light Air-branded devices. Could […]

  29. Michael B. Says:

    Also,, i forgot to mention the whois record doesn’t reflect Apple Inc. but it may be in transition of new ownership…


  30. […] in January, I wrote: Of course Mike has has own take on everything: he opines that the MacBook Air is the first in a line of possible thin and light Air-branded devices. Could […]

  31. Greg Manwell Says:

    Hi, I was viewing your blog regarding the iPod Air and domain. I’ve done some research and found that not only is http://www.ipodair.com registered but these domains are as well…

    ipodair.cn China
    ipodair.ie Ireland
    ipodair.co.uk U.K.
    ipodair.net Generic
    ipodair.org Generic

    Looks like people from accross the world are jumpin on some type of ” hypothetical bandwagon ”
    Who knows, everyone said that the Macbookair was a rumor too…

  32. John Rowley Says:

    hello Mike,

    A very interesting and well thought out speculation… I hope you are right. I have wanted an apple tablet computer for years. What worries me is that with Apple’s desire to keep things minimal (excluding the ever more bloated OS) they will won’t have a pen function on the tablet. My job is drawing stuff and if I could draw directly on screen on a shiney new mac that would be wonderful. I know that there is the Modbook but I’m not interested in that – I keep holding out for the real thing. I could use a wacom cintiq – especially as they just released one that could actually be used balanced on your knee (although with a sodding great cable attaching it to a computer and no virtual keyboard)but I just keep hoping year after year, month after month that Apple will finally see me right. Trouble is the Macbook Air seems to show Apple gunning for business men/women and on the whole it feels Apple cares less and less about the design community that kept them afloat before the ipod appeared. What do you think Mike?

  33. mikecane Says:

    Apple’s market has matured in the design niche. iPod has opened it back up to other people. So will iPhone. iPod Air would be more of a consumer device, like the iPod itself.

    Now I must go and sweat this fever to death…

  34. Jean B. Says:

    I’vThe read this blog about the ipod air and if it’s true I can’t wait. The name ipod air fits along with Apple’s “ Air “ theme..

    Like this blog many posts on the net suggest a Tablet style mini computer device that would definately be GREAT in COLLEGES! because sometimes the laptops even the Macbook air are too BIG! With a product like the “ iPodAIR “ would be a hit among teen and adults alike.. Specialy for that work project that can be easlily transported from that laptop to another laptop via the “ iPod Air “ with ease.. I would definately buy it and so would millions accross the world.. it’s what we need what everyone needs.. A massive market awaits.

    Go Steve Jobs.. Hope you Create it soon! were waiting.
    let’s just hope it’s under $400.00 bucks because it would be well worth it! if this “ iPod air “ acts like a mini laptop with steroids.. im definately in.

  35. bigmac777 Says:

    its called the ipad you ffffffffffffff***************************************eeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrssssssssssssss

    • mikecane Says:

      Hey, you fucking moron. Look at the date. Written THEN, not in 2011. Go back to your online pr0n, jackass.

  36. Markus Diniz Says:

    The zoom, alas, is just not optical, so as you zoom in you won’t necessarily see any extra detail.


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