A new toy?

Get ready for another round of geek lust.

There have been rumours for the past 30 months or so about the emergence of a touchscreen-based, handheld Mac. Ideas ranging from an Apple-branded Palm to an iPod on steroids have been bandied about. Big double handfuls of gasoline-soaked wood were thrown onto the fire today when the U.S. Patent Office granted a patent to Apple for an "electronic device" that appears to be a self-contained portable touchscreen computer. Two big questions emerge:

1: Will this device ever see the light of day? Apple files a few dozen patents a year, many of them for items, ideas, and products that never make it past the design stage. This filing, however, is made a little more interesting by the fact that OSX Panther and OSX Tiger both have Apple's excellent "Inkwell" handwriting recognition technology built-in ... despite the fact that no current Mac has any way to use those functions. Why spend the development hours and money on Inkwell unless there is a use for it? To tantalize us even further, the Taiwanese development house Quanta has been contracted by Apple to provide portable touch-screens for an unspecified portable device. Draw your own conclusions as you will.

2: What will the thing do? PDA? Unlikely, since the PDA market is dead flat right now, and more people are using the iPod's organizer functions that are using Palm OS devices right now. Video iPod? Unknown, but unlikely since portable video is a mostly a "look what I can do" concept, as opposed to a "I'll sit down and watch this" kind of thing. Wireless notepad and email plank? Maybe. Full-on OSX box with a stylus? Possible, but really, where is the market for that when the iBook is so cool? Something completely different? Probably, but your guess is a good as mine.

I hate waiting.

Posted: Tue - May 10, 2005 at 09:37 PM