Apple Tablet could create new category, redefine others

In less than 24 hours Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will hold what is easily one of the most highly anticipated events that any company, Apple included, has ever done. The soon to-be launched Apple Tablet, a 10-inch, touch-screen device that will run all the applications of the iPhone, as well as include a 3G wireless connection, represents a whole new category of device – a category with the potential to shape how several emerging industries do business.

Image via Gizmodo

Forrester Research analysts Charles Golvin and James McQuivey posted a great blog today on Apple’s potential to create a new media-driven category – the same way it did with the PC, digital music player and even the smartphone. To do this, Apple will have to steal consumers from the eReader and netbook camps and convince them this is the device they never knew they HAD to have. But, Golvin and McQuivey think this is exactly what Apple will do.

Apple knows it is well positioned to offer music, video, and, soon, books, magazines, newspapers and web-based opinion and commentary, they wrote in the blog. However, the critical link that would make Apple’s tablet really soar is the inclusion of personal media: photos and home videos. Viewing photos is a top-five online activity, digital photography has created a whole new set of behaviors that Flickr, Picasa and others have tried to serve.

At the same time that Apple is paving this new category, it is also poised to redefine several existing ones. Apple appears to be targeting the same industry verticals that have piqued carriers’ interest in the last year or so:

Connected Home: McQuivey noted that the Tablet should be introduced with a family of co-devices that make it more flexible in the home. This could include Bluetooth keyboards, docks that transform it into a beside alarm clock, Pandora radio player, kitchen recipe stand, photo frame or home remote control. We’re talking about TVs that tablets can publish to wirelessly and HD cameras that can function in attached mode or work wirelessly from across the room – the same camera that will speak to your Mac, your iPhone, and anything else Apple makes, the analysts said.

Telemedicine (M2M): The machine-to-machine market is already taking off, and amongst the services with the most potential is eHealth. Telemedicine, or the ability for remote health monitoring, is another vertical Apple could transform with a sleek, mobile device that’s price point falls well below other medical devices on the market. Much like the iPhone has caused health applications to explode, the Tablet could make telemedicine services much more accessible and user friendly.

Distance Learning: One of the most oft-discussed angles of the Tablet is how it will change the publishing industry, perhaps even render eReaders obsolete. Lending weight to that is today’s news that the New York Times has formed a business segment to focus on digital reading apps and that it, along with Conde Nast, is working on an app for the Tablet. According to reports, Apple has also been talking with the educational division of McGraw-Hill to bring e-textbooks to the Tablet, alongside portions of the publishing company’s Connect online learning system. Apple could be the first to create a truly usable electronic textbook.

Manufacturing/Supply Chain: The enterprise use case for the Tablet is less obvious, given the purported price of the device, but it’s a possibility nonetheless. The Tablet could serve as a much sleeker replacement device for workforce automation and tracking.

To be all inclusive, there’s no reason consumers won’t monitor their energy use from this screen or at least save energy by using their computer less. In fact, the Apple Tablet could be the best bet to stimulate broadband growth or change the way consumers watch TV for years to come. Then again, I’ve also heard it can fry eggs, fight crime and cure cancer. Guess will have to wait until tomorrow to see what Apple really has up its sleeve. But if CEO Steve Jobs is telling the truth, we should count on a game changer.

(Image via Gizmodo)

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