By Richard Menta 1/26/09
If you picked up that the pop culture reference in the title above came from an episode of the Gilmore Girls - a program that itself delivers a glorious cornucopia of pop culture references - then you also understand it's appropriateness here. As the media whips itself into a frenzy over the potential of the Apple iTablet / iSlate / iWhatever it only reinforces the fact that Jobs and co are probably our greatest contemporary source of pop culture.
So much is being written about tomorrow's unveiling, with a tone that has only become faster and more speculative than I have ever seen at an Apple event. The only issue may be the fact that expectations are pumped so high now an electronic device that can both cure cancer and bring world peace (sure to be popular with beauty contestants) can easily disappoint. This is hardly a worry for Apple who just announced a record quarter.
My take on it all, what I see as the real potential of this future device when it appears, focuses on the evolution of the operating system. Talk all you want about media and music, of Sony's $40 games vs iTunes $0.99 ones. The real legacy of the iPod touch and the iPhone comes from how it liberated the OS from a world of folders and files. The iTablet can now take this concept to a new level through the conduit of a full fledged touchscreen PC Apple will use to compete against the inexpensive netbooks. Netbooks are not the only probable target.
Are we taking the first step to a vision of the PC of 2017? The residual pain foisted on both the enterprise and consumer by Windows Vista illustrates where Microsoft is vulnerable. Of course Apple does not license it's OS, which means Microsoft will always have the opportunity to play catch up should Apple's new product come even halfway close to the hype. But that is a position Microsoft loathes to be in if Zune is any example.