Speculation about Apple’s next big thing heats up as the rumored Jan. 26 unveiling nears
Two lines of thought dominated the ongoing debate this week about what Apple’s (AAPL) tablet computer is and what it might be good for.
[UPDATE: Make that three lines of thought. See Antacid Tablet, below.]
The first — the tablet as an oversized iPhone — flows from a brief post in a Chinese-language microblog that gained currency primarily due to the influence of its author: Kaifu Lee, a Carnegie-Mellon trained computer scientist who headed the Apple R&D team that developed the Newton, started Microsoft’s (MSFT) Beijing Research Division and, after a five-month legal tug-of-war, founded Google (GOOG) China.
According to Lee (translation via GadgetMix):
The second — the tablet as something you buy instead of a MacBook — comes from a long post by Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber. Forced into a thought experiment because his sources at Apple — usually very good — seem to have disappeared behind a “cone of silence,” Gruber asks what strikes us the central question about Steve Jobs’ next big thing:
His answer, in brief:
Gruber doesn’t offer an explanation of how, exactly, one would do extended typing on a virtual keyboard (AppleInsider suggests some ideas here). But for anyone interested in what Apple might be up to, Gruber’s “A Tablet” is a must-read. Get it here.
UPDATE: On Friday, ArsTechnica’s John Siracusa filed his predictions in a post entitled Antacid Tablet that takes a middle road, separating — Don Rumsfield style — the known knowns from the known unknowns. It’s another must-read. Get it here.
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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]