The 17-inch iPad: Omigod!

Apple has a history of pulling the rug out from under competitors. Remember the breathtaking pace of iPod development that dashed competitors’ hopes of ever catching up? Now, just as Hewlett Packard, Sony and others, in typical “follow Apple” fashion, are prepping 10-inch tablets to compete the iPad, Apple will move on and dash their hopes once again.

I remember when every woman I knew wanted a pink iPod mini back in 2004. Apple updated it once, and then with breathtaking speed, obsoleted it with the iPod nano. All those companies that wanted to compete with the iPod mini suddenly found themselves behind the power curve, crushed by Apple’s pace of innovation.


I believe the same thing is going to happen with the iPad.

Our collective consciousness may have somehow settled on the iPhone’s rollout calendar: a new iPhone every summer. Somehow, the community thinking has lazily lapsed into the idea that Apple will also refresh the iPad in a year. That’s a trap Apple will gladly have the competition fall into.

Remember, it’s not realistic to change mobile phones more often than once a year because one pays an expensive monthly fee and is under a two year contract. The iPad data plan, however, requires no contract, and Apple is free to come out with a new iPad model when ever it thinks the time is ripe. There is no reason to believe that Apple will give the competition an entre calendar year to catch up with the iPad 1G.

What’s the next logical step?

First, Apple has some OS ducks to get in a row. We need a better, more transparent file system access, and we need printing. The magnifying glass for editing may have been a nice innovation for editing on the iPhone, for low volume typing, but heavy typing, on a larger iPad keyboard, demands yet another innovation for fixing typos. When these refinements appear in iPhone OS 4 for the iPad “in the fall,” you can bet there will be a larger iPad. I’m guessing 15 to 17 inches.

For starters, an iPad of this size creates even more opportunities:

  • More practical board games, like Monopoly, that were too cramped on smaller screens
  • A full size keyboard that’s more forgiving of finger placement
  • Larger text in Pages that’s easier to edit
  • Larger text in ebooks for the visually handicapped
  • Even more exciting action games
  • A larger bezel around the edges on which one can rest the palm of the hand
  • Architecture and drawing programs become realistic
  • Breathtaking 1080p video

Now that the iPad 1G has shipped, you can be sure that Apple is working on a family of successors that will hit the sweet spots in the market place. I can foresee special polycarbonate stands that lay a 17-inch iPad 2G on a table at a comfortable, reclined angle and include a palm rest. I can foresee 17-inch iPads being used as replacements for TVs in dorms and teenager bedrooms. I can foresee them being used at construction sites for blueprints and by the military for battlefield maps.  The list goes on.

The potential uses will be just as synergistic and exciting as the current iPad is over and above the iPhone. That is, some argued early on that the iPad is merely an iPod touch with a larger screen. We learned quickly that isn’t so. The visual effects and opportunities presented by the larger screen went well beyond a mere scaling of screen size.

Just imagine the even greater visual leverage presented by a 15 to 17-inch iPad 2G. Once again, the competition will have its hopes dashed of ever catching up.