Prediction 2010 : Apple To Subsidise Tablet PC With Media Bundle?

Apple is likely to launch its Tablet PC - possibly called the TabletMac - early next year and the fact that it has acquired Lala earlier this month opens the prospects of some tantalising services coming our soon fairly soon.

We are a few days away from 2010 and our first prediction for next year is that Apple will subsidise the high cost of its tablet PC - which we suspect will be around $1000 or £600 - the same way it made its expensive iPhone smartphones available to millions, through a long term contract.

The Cupertino-based company is likely to convert the iTunes environment from a client-based model to a cloud-based one and tie its TabletMac tightly to it. What would that imply?

Well, Apple may offer 1000 audio streams, 50 movies & video programmes, 10 magazines, books and podcasts per month for only £30.

That's obviously an assumption and, just like the likes of O2 or Orange, the TabletMac manufacturer would be in a position to offer a range of tariffs.

The device would also be the ideal platform for the Apple project codenamed CMX/Cocktail which would be a new album format; it would be the perfect match for a multimedia friendly tablet.

Apple already has the most media-friendly CEO around - Steve Jobs has 138 million Disney shares and is a member of the board and Apple has a cult-like status amongst many creative departments worldwide.

Add to that the fact that Apple, with iTunes, iPod and the iPhone has already shown that it is the most media-friendly technology company as well; the Sony of the third Millennium.

It would have to rely on existing mobile phone operators and WiFi networks, something that would make it a bigger version of the iPhone except that it won't be able to make phone calls, only transfer data.

Speaking of the iPhone, both the iPhone and the TabletMac are likely to have the possibility of seamlessly synchronising content between the two. This is to ensure that the user gets the most updated content while on the move, anywhere and at anytime.

This could potentially mark a paradigm shift from one where the user "owns" the content to one where the content producers give a limited license to the consumer, in a way similar to Nokia's Comes With Music - linking the hardware and the software - but in a more restrictive way.

As long as you own the hardware (or upgrade to the latest version), you can play whatever content you have downloaded/paid for but not when you stop your subscription; this makes the existing customers captive.

Ultimately, the TabletMac could become the largest member of the iPod Touch family, a prospect we never thought would be enticing for me when I first explored the possibilities of a giant iPod Touch here.

But then, I never thought that I would be the proud owner of an Apple product by the end of 2009 either.