So the big tech news on the internet is all the anticipation for the debut of Apple's upcoming "Tablet" device.
There's no shortage of handicapping and conjecture going on, so why not through my hat into the ring with a couple of predictions:
-Despite how fancy the thing is and all the things it will do, the real economic story is still going to be a continuation and extenstion of the iTunes/AppStore business model. Think: "iBooks" or at least LOTS of books are coming to iTunes. Movies are already, but expect even more, at various prices points and in packages or bundles (of TV shows, Movies, etc)
The WSJ journal cited an source close to Apple quoting Jobs as saying a big part of this device was going to be giving "the old guard" (Media and Publishing companies) new distribution channels, and to literally "help them out"
The success of iTunes in the music industry is self-evident. They are beholden to it as it's the single most successful distribution channel for them in the digital age. It would stand to reason that Jobs would like to duplicate that success with other "content" businesses, as well. They're certainly hurting right now, and having the ability to bring their stuff, legally, to his device makes it more attractive too.
In terms of physical or technical stuff, I look for it to be "always on" in it's connection to the web, and to rely on the web for more software and functionality than a desktop does. Analogous to a netbook in that regard. There have been rumors of an 'iTunes in the cloud' coming, so that would be interesting (your stuff stored on their servers over the internet instead of locally on the tablet)
Other sites and blogs have already talked about the expectation of a virtual keyboard, virtual sticky notes that can be left for other family members, etc, but on thing I haven't seen talked about is photos and photo-editing.
I can imagine this having a stand on the back that can sit upright when not in use, like frame. Screen savers with family photos, and digital photo frames are far from revolutionary, but editing, syncing, and linking them up with *other* people's photo albums over the web on a digital photo frame, is. I would imagine something like this will be in-built so it can act as a cool dynamic photo display when the device is not in active use.
Lastly, games and apps. The rumor mill is abuzz that Apple is going to do more with games on this thing than they've ever done with any of their other devices. I'm not a gamer, but this makes a lot of sense to me. Some of the most popular apps on the iPhone are games. If the interface is as immersive as people expect it to be, games would be a big driver in getting people hooked on the thing.
Bottom line, I expect it's going to be a really neat, multipurpose device that does cool stuff, but ultimately is going to be really controlled (like all Apple products) and will further try to condition us to pay for things web and net users are accustomed to getting for free.
Good for the content business and Apple, maybe not so great for users (especially if you end up paying for stuff twice - for the privilege of being able to enjoy it on this device)
I guess we'll know on Wednesday!