John Gruber’s lengthy and thoughtful take on what the Apple Tablet could be has been making the blogospheric rounds. His reasoning is solid I definitely think he’s onto something:
Do I think The Tablet is an e-reader? A video player? A web browser? A document viewer? It’s not a matter of or but rather and. I say it is all of these things. It’s a computer.
What I found surprising is that Gruber doesn’t say that the tablet will be a game machine. Apple has a checkered history when it comes to gaming — though encouraged with the Apple II, it wasn’t at all supported with the original Macintosh (Steve thought it would make it seem too much like a toy), and some think that’s part of the reason that PCs dominated the home market. With iPhone and iPod Touch, Apple has all but rebranded them as a gaming platform, after seeing which apps were the most popular.
So, along with being an e-reader, video player, web browser, document viewer, I would expect the new tablet to be a game platform, and a potentially game changing one at that. With a flat form factor, accelerometer, iSight (especially if there’s two iSights, one on the front, one on the back), and wireless, the gaming opportunities are remarkable. You could have a driving game where what you’re holding actually held like a steering wheel. You could have two lined up side by side and play air hockey. You could do some crazy augmented reality stuff, or body control stuff, and come up with game ideas no one has thought yet.
Anyway, yeah, games. Oh, the other thing I suspect is that the only way to get software on the device will be through an App Store. The model is just too attractive, especially if they sell it as a “not-computer” (yes, it will be a computer, but they will very likely sell it as some type of appliance).