The rumor mill insists that the release of an Apple tablet is imminent. I don’t put much faith in such whispers, but they do demand some small attention. Daring Fireball reminds us that Apple would never release a product unless they had clear answers to fundamental questions such as:

If you already have an iPhone and a MacBook, what would you need this for?

I certainly can’t answer this question for Apple, but I can answer it for myself.

I don’t need another device that directly connects to the Internet. I have a phone for when I’m on the run and a laptop for when I’m near to home. What I wouldn’t mind, however, is a secondary multi-touch display that automatically and wirelessly federates with my phone or laptop. Throughmy primary devices, this display could access the Internet and run available apps.

I can think of two very distinct use cases for me: reading technical material and writing electronic music. For reading, I want a large but lightweight screen on which journal articles, Pragmatic Programmer books, and Python doc-pages render beautifully. I’d probably spend most of my time in portrait. For music, I want a large landscape screen where I can easily grab and manipulate the knobs and sliders of my virtual synths. No more mousing around.

I imagine that others would have quite different desires; many of my friends would want paperback-sized displays to make for comfortable reading, etc. Apple could release two or three different sizes to satisfy different user needs.