Apple is probably going to launch some sort of tablet PC next month, probably on January the 26th, but is this a revolution in computing or a revolution in control?
The iSlate will take the iPhone concept into a decent-sized package, but more importantly for Apple it takes the security and control model into the realm of laptop computing. From there it's a small jump to the desktop and Cupertino control over everything you do on your computer.
Microsoft once suggested that Windows applications should be digitally signed, by Redmond, and that this would remove Trojans, viruses and all manner of nastiness, but the company was swiftly shouted down by customers who feared ceding control to the beast.
Since 2003 the Trusted Computing Platform has tried to do the same thing - creating hardware capable of implementing software policies to control the applications and use to which the hardware is put. In Trusted Computing the user is still free to replace the OS, but if they choose to run one that takes advantage of the Trusted Computing architecture then the hardware will limit the capabilities of unauthorised applications.
But Apple has already achieved that with the iPhone: there are no iPhone Trojans or viruses, and the only worm so far seen exploits handsets that have been hacked by their owners. Apple vets every application, through its obscure and sometimes inconsistent approval process, and who wouldn't want a desktop computer free of malware?
Along with rumours of a January 26 launch date, and orders for 10-inch screens in abundance, stories are circulating that some iPhone developers have been given a nod that if their applications are flexible about resolution then they'll run without difficulty on the iSlate*. This would certainly indicate a shared architecture.
Stick a Bluetooth keyboard on the iSlate and it's a laptop replacement, extending the manufacture-controlled model into desktop computing.
We have no idea if the iSlate will launch in January, or what kind of wiz-bang interface will wow the fans, but we are confident that applications for the iSlate will be limited to those approved by Apple, and that Apple won’t be relinquishing that control any day soon. ®
* Apple has registered the islate.com domain. It seems that iguide.com is also in Cupertino's possession but we're going with iSlate.