Apple's Tablet: Open Or Closed? - InformationWeek
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
06:33 PM
Connect Directly
Ransomware: Latest Developments & How to Defend Against Them
Nov 01, 2017
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of malware, and new breeds that escalate quickly ar ...Read More>>

Apple's Tablet: Open Or Closed?

Developers may catch a glimpse of Apple's stance on future software rights and controls next month when Apple discusses its development plans for Snow Leopard.

Apple is reportedly planning to release a media pad, tablet, or netbook in 2010. Though the company won't comment on upcoming projects, news sites in Asia claim to have identified suppliers for the future product.

Even less clear is whether this rumored Apple device will be an open or closed environment. Will it be a computer that the user can control, or an oversized iPod tied to iTunes and subject to Apple's corporate supervision?

Axiotron's Modbook

Apple's first option is to cling to its existing MacBook hardware and application structure in favor of a tablet Mac that runs OS X, like the Axiotron Modbook.

First seen at Macworld 2006 in stealth mode, the company got Apple's blessing to create the single state version and price it starting at $2,290. The Modbook is manufactured by the same companies that make Macintosh systems. Axiotron ships the manufacturers the pen displays, the manufacturers rip the displays and keyboards out of standard MacBooks, and then add the Axiotron display.

Software developers would be taking a well-known course in developing such a tablet. Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June is expected to highlight its development plans for the next Mac OX platform called Snow Leopard. The operating system is well-trodden territory, developers know well their parameters, vendors know their roles, and the ecosystem has been good for the most part.

The 1 billionth iPhone app
(Click for larger image and to see two more pictures of the app.)

However, an Apple tablet based on its iPhone infrastructure stands a better chance of being widely embraced. Developers have been reinvigorated with dollar signs now that Apple's App Store has seen its 1 billionth app download. The store has allowed even novice developers to make and sell apps to the general public. Enterprises are using the App Store as a new opportunity for mobile workers to keep connected.

But an iPhone development approach for a Mac tablet could send out the wrong message. If content free of controversy is the only material available for Apple's tablet, 2010 could be the year that Google's Android-powered devices take off.

Case in point: Apple recently rejected the Eucalyptus app for the iPhone from the iTunes App Store. The company cited its prohibition on apps that contain potentially objectionable content.

Yet Eucalyptus contains no content: It's an e-book reader that can be loaded with any suitably formatted content chosen by the user.

Apple objected to the fact that a user of the app could load a text-only translation of the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, one of the books archived in Project Gutenberg.

"I am at a loss to explain why Eucalyptus is being treated differently than these applications by Apple," James Montgomerie, the application's developer, said in a blog post. "I'm also frankly amazed that they would suggest I should be manually censoring content that is being downloaded from the public Internet -- classic, even ancient, books, no less."

The book in question happens to be available through the iPhone's Web browser and through other e-book-reading apps for the iPhone like Stanza and's Kindle app.

Such inconsistency underscores developer complaints about how inscrutable and capricious Apple's approval process can be. And with the addition of parental controls to Apple's iPhone 3.0 software, some third-party Mac developers are hoping that will give the company an excuse to exercise less oversight.

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis on increasing application performance. Download the report here (registration required).

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Digital Transformation Myths & Truths
Transformation is on every IT organization's to-do list, but effectively transforming IT means a major shift in technology as well as business models and culture. In this IT Trend Report, we examine some of the misconceptions of digital transformation and look at steps you can take to succeed technically and culturally.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll