I had a dream last night about the iPod (I know, I know) and how it morphed into a tablet Mac.
As I've previously mentioned here, the iPhone could be a clever decoy planted by Apple to misdirect attention from the real Macworld show stoppers - whatever they may be.
Steve Jobs has told us that iTV is coming, so that's a given, but what about the iPod? Cupertino has been famously silent about their little media player and the timing's right for an upgrade. There's no shortage of patent applications indicating that Apple is developing a full-screen iPod with a touch screen interface. Which got me to thinking...
Apple could easily release a full-screen iPod with a touch screen interface (that also supports hovering to avoid scratches). Where it would really become interesting is if the new iPod ran a simplified version of Mac OS X.
Instead of the iPod OS, the new sixth generation iPod (which I'm calling "iPad") would run Mac OS X lite. Gone is basic drill-down iPod interface we've all grown accustomed to, iPad would ship with a lite version of iTunes with the ability to edit ID3 tags and metadata, display visualizers, even access the iTunes store. In addition to iTunes lite, the iPad would also include iPhoto lite for browsing photos and offloading digital cameras.
In my dream, the iPad was such a success Apple expanded on the concept and released a slightly larger version with an expansion slot at WWDC in the summer of 2007. The new, larger version of the iPad was more of an ultralight computer as opposed to just a media player which doubled as an interface to the iTV and accepted stylus-based input.
After iPad 2 sold extremely well, Apple released the larger 10-inch diagonal iPad 3 at Macworld SF 2008 running OS X tablet edition with killer handwriting and voice recognition.
The 10-inch iPad easily converted into a desktop setup if you pop out the kickstand and add a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. iPad 3 also included a dock that would charge the unit and synchronize relevant content (email, RSS, music and video subscriptions, DVR content) in the background.
Keep in mind that Apple was granted a patent in March 2004 for an "electronic device" that they compared to several tablet PCs. Then in February 2006 they patented several touch-input user interface methods (i.e. using multiple fingers, gestures and motions) including a drawing of a person using a tablet-like device (pictured).
So there you have it. Apple's sixth generation iPod could morph into a dockable tablet that could convert into a desktop setup. Granted it's a little out there, but a man can dream, can't he?
(Concept photo courtesy Gary Franklin Haus' Pixel Mojo)