Tablet PCs – a chance for Maemo?

I just have watched the Apple iPad announcement and I have to say that I am quite impressed by the Apple marketing team. Before the film I could not think of a good use case for a oversized iPod, but after the film I have to say that Apple greatly refined the use case of the netbooks as a second PC.

Instead of putting an ordinary OS into a differently shaped device, like Microsoft is seemingly doing with the Slate, Apple adjusted the OS to the new use case.

If you have a much smaller screen and a much smaller keyboard, like you have on netbooks, you don’t want to write long articles or aim for the tiny buttons of ordinary user interfaces. Instead one should of a netbook like a playback device, which only requires rudimentary interaction.

As apple is great at streamlining stuff, they simply left out the keyboard and used a modified version of the iPhone OS, which is optimized for easy usage and – voilla here comes the computer you actually want to use in your living room, to quickly peek on facebook or your mail inbox.

But there are two big disadvantages that come with using the iPhone OS. First it is stripped down to much; there is no multitasking and no system clipboard which takes a lot of the convenience you have when using a real OS.

And second you are again locked-in by apple. If you use the iPad, you are also more or less forced to use iTunes for your music, iBook Store for your eBook and the AppStore if you want new Software.

Of course you might be able to Jailbreak the device and use third-party software but this will be nowhere as convenient as using the defaults. This is Apples Achilles heel and where Maemo can triumph.

With Maemo you basically have a full-fledged Linux with a easy to use UI. You have multitasking, you have a system clipboard and most importantly you have an open software repository – and all of this very well integrated in the UI.

You can freely choose your email provide, your music player and even the format you save your music in. And even though Nokia does not support OGG by default, the open nature of the OS allows it to be just as integrated as everything else.

Actually Nokia only has to build a Internet Tablet with the size of the iPad…

  • Hopefully iPad’s probable success will encourage Nokia to take the step and provide something like a Maemo tablet – think of the N900 UI (multitasking, Firefox!) running on tabletized Nokia Booklet hardware.

    Then again, something like that could also be accomplished by installing Mer (the 100% open source variant of Maemo) on an Always Innovating Touch Book. They even have the “keyboard dock” available.

  • Sebastian

    Regarding Multitasking:
    I think with the speed of the iPad (it seems to be way faster than an iPhone 3GS) application-stopping and starting again will feel like application switching. The programmers will have to implement measurements to preserve the current state of their application when the user quits it and to quickly restore the state once the user starts it again. This is no true multitasking but can make up for some of the problems created by omitting that feature.

    I think the choice Apple made by building this device and running an derivative of iPhone OS is the choice to support the “normal” user and not us power users. Read for a very good article about this.

    But I want to bitch a little bit too! This thing lacks a (front and back?) facing camera! Skype FTW!

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  • Jody

    Uh, the iPhone OS does have a system clipboard now. Since release 3.0.

  • birdy

    Yes, I’m for it that Nokia builds a pad-sized tablet using Maemo. That could be a pretty cool device.
    But there is one problem! The software has to be adjusted/enhanced greatly!

    For example office-viewer should be improved to be an editable (k)office. The media player can be improved a lot, by taking advantage of the additional space. The same applies for the foto-app, which should than be able to edit fotos. And so on…

    It may be rather easy to build the hardware, it’s more work getting the software in shape properly.

    But I do see a great chance for Nokia pushing torwards this direction.

  • Alot of bloggers are not really pleased with this new iPad.There was just too much hoopla regarding it and alot people got turned off.You see, I for one see some of the cool potential of this gizmo. Third-party applications for composing tunes, games, newsprints and magazines and FFS books, tons of cool stuff, but they failed to sell it very well (excluding the books). It feels rather not finished