Apple's Vision for the Future: The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good

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Every year a whole community seems to develop around the new products Apple has in store.  It's fun, it's exciting, and it can lead to huge feelings of self-righteous pride or crushing disappointment when predictions do not hold fruit.  So earlier this week when Steve Jobs talked about the future of Apple, it was interesting to hear what was said, and what was not said. First, the ugly:  really cheap Apple computers are not a market Steve Jobs sees Apple going into.  The cheapest computer Apple designed was the Mac Mini, which had a base purchase of $479 at one point, and is now $599.  This may call the future of the Mac Mini in question, which I hope is not the case.  It's the cheapest server I have ever seen.  For quick and simple office deployment (outside of really high-end uses like video rendering), you can't beat the size of the Mac Mini.  But, don't expect anything really cheap from the Apple anytime soon.  The Bad:  UMPCs are not a priority.  If you recall, what I was billing as the iPod Slate for the past year and a half would be a similar device.  Perhaps not the same, so there is still a chance, but from what Steve said this is not a priority because there isn't a real market out there for such a device.  Instead, you can use an iPhone for just about everything you can use a UMPC for, and it fits in your pocket.  He did say that should that market start to grow, they have some ideas ready.  Perhaps that is why the iPod Slate hasn't been announced....Also as part of the bad, the Apple TV is still not being taken seriously.  Steve points to the market and many devices out there like the Apple TV that have floundered.  I suppose there are still a lot of people that use DVD's, and don't have children that break them easily.  Or perhaps it's because there isn't a convenient way to convert their existing library to a usable Apple TV form that looks great.  Either way, Steve still sees the whole thing as a hobby, and as such it doesn't have a huge priority.  Pitty.The Good:  Apple is working on a tablet PC!  Steve didn't say anything about it, other than, "It's a policy that Apple doesn't discuss any products in development."  Yes!  This could be a much larger version of the iPod Slate, and essentially be the same thing I was hoping for anyway.  It could be completely keyboard free, using a software keyboard and a touchscreen in place of a hardware keyboard.  It wouldn't be the same (keys would feel different), but it would still do the job, and only take up space on the desktop. So, that's what I gathered from Steve's announcement.  Of course a lot of it is speculation, but it doesn't hurt to speculate.  I've been wrong with Apple's development strategy before, and I'm sure Steve will pull something out of his hat that will make the Media drool.  Half the fun is speculation.  ^_^