Tablet Design Before & After the iPad

Aug 18, 2011 - 79 Comments

As if there was any doubt that Apple is the innovator here, here’s an amusing graphic showing the design of tablets before and after the launch of the iPad.

Tablets before and after the iPad

Similar graphics exist comparing the iPhone and smartphones too, DaringFireball links to a few comparing the before-and-after iPhone changes to Android phones. Entertaining find from Gruber.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Fun, iPad


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  1. mary says:

    I hope this works. Autocorrect is so stupid. Once I meant to type “to have” but I missed the space and typed “tohave”, and it “corrected it to “Mohave”!

  2. Karl says:

    Thanks so much. I hope this works.

  3. Ian says:

    This autocorrect feature is rubbish. Thanks for the tip.

  4. katrin says:

    Thank you!

  5. Charles Thomas says:

    Thank you for your support

  6. Derek says:

    If nobody buys a Samsung, then no problem?

  7. cristi says:

    fanatic pricks

  8. Phil2 says:

    here is a better overview of designs existing before launch of iPad:

    And now the question: From who has Apple stolen the design?

  9. Counsel says:

    The problem with Apple was that they actually use a button… Why? Ever use a Blackberry Playbook? The button is not needed…

    You need to go watch Jobs’s speach about innovation and innovators. Jobs stated that Apple improved on tech invented by others to make it very usable for the masses… Mouse, GUI, music player, tablet, … Apple didn’t create those techs, Apple made them better.

    Yet, I would prefer to have no button(s) on the exterior. WebOS and the Playbook OS show no button is needed–the swipe with a sensitive border works great, is easy to remember, and is intuitive.

    You might say Apple sells more apps… Right, but Apple only had web apps in the beginning. Apple only had 500 apps after 1 year–go watch Jobs’s speech.

    None of the tablets are perfect, yet. I like the innovation brought by RIM, Apple, WebOS, and Android. Each existing makes the others better-good for all of us users :)

  10. Pete says:

    How about the 1987 Apple prediction for the iPad/iPhone4S:

    Now as I remember in 1987, Microsoft was still messing around with MS-DOS. This was 5 years before Microsoft released the Windows 3.x

  11. Phil says:

    All this back and forth about who copied who is irrelevant. What matters is that Apple sold 11 MILLION iPads last quarter while Motorola sold 100,000 Xoom tablets (110-to-one in favor of iPad). RIM sold 200,000 Playbooks (55-to-one). Samsung sold 1.6 million Galaxy tablets (about seven-to-one). When people want a tablet, they want an iPad. They DO NOT want something “like an iPad.”

    If these pre-iPad tablets were so great, and Apple had merely copied them with little innovation to its credit, why haven’t they sold billions of the devices in the years they were available before iPad?

    Do you know why iPad competitors’ sales numbers are anything above one per week? It’s because they’re making them more like an iPad. The other companies are adding their own app markets to compete against Apple’s App Store. They’re slimming down the devices to make them thinner and lighter (like an iPad). They’re cutting prices to make them more attractive to people who think an iPad is too expensive. (Notice I didn’t say, “people who think A TABLET is too expensive.” No one walks into a store and asks if they have a tablet that is “like a Xoom, but cheaper.”)

    (Speculating on the future sales of the Kindle Fire is useless. Everyone has proclaimed their new tablet an “iPad killer” and it’s always turned out the same. Wait until the first full quarter’s sales results are in before you say the KF is the greatest tablet ever.)

    The iPad isn’t for everyone, I’ll admit. For people who hate Apple and wouldn’t use an Apple product if it was the last piece of technology on the planet, there are other choices. For the remaining seventy percent of the tablet buying public, the iPad just works.

  12. AppleFUD says:

    I love articles like this. . . apple fans trying to prove something that is blatantly false, because you always get such informative comments that show just how bat #@!% crazy apple is and how much they’ve copied anything and everything they could find for their own products…

    If Samsung’s lawyers haven’t’ found this post and/or the same info they are true idiots.

  13. Nick says:

    So we show rugged tablets, like the Panasonic toughbook H1.

    in the before picture, and show consumer grade tablets in the after picture. Yeah, real accurate reporting there.

    Guess almost all the befores are rugged PCs, which are still what’s used when you need something for field use. They are fat, heavy, have resistive touch screens, are IP rated to 65 or better, can be dropped, heated, frozen.

    They look he same “after the ipad” as they did before.

  14. Yacko says:

    lol said:

    “CPUs that are low power, enable thin design and are able to run a system like the ipad have been aroung for ages (e.g. Cortex A8+). Also they were affordable

    Multitouch Displays have been on the market for ages

    Luckily apple invented that technology. Just they didn’t.”

    Actually Apple has a hand in the two quoted here. The unique multitouch gestures specifically were created by Fingerworks and date before the year 2000. Apple like what they had and bought the company in 2005. See:

    As to the low power chips that made small thin tablets possible, these are based on designs by ARM that ARM license to various entities some of whom, like NVidia, add custom touches. As to where ARM came from, quoted from Wikipedia:

    “The company was founded as Advanced RISC Machines, ARM, a joint venture between Acorn Computers, Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and VLSI Technology.”

    This was way back in 1990.

    • MixD says:

      Development of ARM CPUs started in 1983 and they were publicly available (and low-power) years before the founding of the ARM company and Apple’s involvement. Apple sold most of their stake in ARM in 1998.

  15. […] l’iPad da un po’. Apple ha introdotto tante nuove metafore, senza parlare della strada tracciata nel design dei dispositivi, strada immediatamente battuta da tutti i concorrenti. Ma […]

  16. lol says:

    Let’s check a few things
    [ ] CPUs that are low power, enable thin design and are able to run a system like the ipad have been aroung for ages (e.g. Cortex A8+). Also they were affordable
    [ ] LCD Screens that were low power enough and thin enough for a table like the ipad have been around for ages
    [ ] Multitouch Displays have been on the market for ages

    Oh snap. So the technology to develop tablets like the ipad didn’t exist in the past? Luckily apple invented that technology. Just they didn’t.

    Maybe the author of this article will enlighten us which components he would’ve used to build an ipad in the timeframe 2001-2005.

    You also realize that those tablets were meant to work with standard windows desktop applications and that this meant x86 processors, which obviously helped thin design, riiiiight?

  17. […] claim they had no choice because there’s no other way to make whatever it is they’re making.Varför inte gå tillbaka till hur det såg ut innan iPad.Inga kommentarer Av Sebastian — 10 september, 2011 vid 01:54Kategorier: Apple, Samsung. […]

  18. RicardoBrusd says:

    Here are tablets shown at CES 2010 before the iPad.,,34594782-FMM,00.jpg

  19. Bek says:

    @ingle yeah they used the exact same words for the iPhone. Brilliant argument

  20. ingle says:

    The biggest issue with the iPads are the lack of keyboards. No wonder the tablet fad will die out soon.

  21. […] się swoim zdrowiem, Apple mogło trochę podgonić peleton w temacie komputerów. Really… Tablet Design Before & After the iPad Komputer: MacBook Pro Odtwarzacz: iPod Classic FACT! Cytuj   […]

  22. fatriff says:

    The CrunchPad project was started by Michael Arrington in July 2008, initially aiming for a US$200 tablet, and showed a first prototype (Prototype A) a month later.

    Look it up, it’s also called the JooJoo..

    Ipad ripped this design off.

    Apple are not innovators!

  23. Starchild says:

    I am small designer myself and I’d thought it’s better to put a note here.

    Apple (actually Jony Ive) follows design principle of a famous Designer called Dieter Rams. He has 10 principles and Apple follows mostly his principles.

    10 Design principles of Rams:

    Apple’s iMacs, MacBook Airs all follows 1 rule by heart, that is making things simple. You can see how old tablets look heavy with all the buttons and handles and all. Apple did one thing, they removed what is unnecessary. That’s what they best.

    My point is that, Apple didn’t copied the design from anyone. It’s pure apple way.

    If anyone care about apple coping other designs take a look at this.

    But, Dieter Rams were asked about Apple coping his designs. His reply was Apple is one of the few companies in the world that care about design and it’s a good thing to see a company follow his principles.

    Take my word, Apple is the king when it comes to design in the tech industry.

  24. pongscript says:

    Those window tablets are created to be used on construction and harsh environment. Apple is classy but on real world such as construction site it will be too hard. resistive is useful even when raining or for sweaty hand since it does use stylus..

    those windows tablets and ipad is on different league..

  25. fatriff says:

    Never seen such garbage in my life!! Apple the innovator???

    Sorry to burst all of your bubbles but the joojoo tablet was around long before the I pad and guess what?? The I pad is all most an identical clone!!

    Do your research people, don’t be mislead by garbage articles like this one.

    If what I’m saying isn’t true then how come you can still buy the joojoo, you could buy it before the I pad and you can still buyhb it now.. don’t you think apple would have sued them to death if they copied the I pad? But since they didn’t and apples knows fine well they pinched the design from an upstart company who don’t have the finances or power to do anything about it.

  26. Path says:

    There is a difference between innovating and styling. Apple’s success is and has always been styling.

    Do not confuse this with innovating. Nothing new was introduced by the iPad, or from any other Apple product for that matter. They just made it prettier and easier to use (by simplifying (limiting) the options.)

    I actually would have agreed with this article otherwise, but I must say that innovator is not even remotely the right word.

    • chirpie says:

      Look up the youtube video where Jobs flicks the screen and it scrolls, inertia style. The audience “ooos.”

      They did that because this statement:

      “Nothing new was introduced by the iPad, or from any other Apple product for that matter.”

      …isn’t completely true.

      • Sean Lijek says:

        I have a game for my Commodore 64, and an info page in the program does that. So Apple wasn’t the first to do it, not by a long shot.

  27. Lyesmith says:

    Thats pretty misleading. Here is 1UMPC from 2007. Yes thats 3 years prior Apple announced Ipad.

  28. Nathan says:

    Um…looks like Moore’s law to me. Not really innovation if anyone could see it coming from 20 years away. Apple’s real innovation of course was turning the von Neumann architecture into a corporate tollbooth. My stock portfolio salutes you Mr. Jobs.

  29. Bobo says:

    Lol, and Eric Schmidt says Apple should start innovating…. :D

  30. fork says:

    This thing was discontinued in 2005:

    Anyways, the dude that said designs are evolutionary has a point.

  31. qmcswret says:

    Ouch!!!! Sounds like another bunch of butthurt Apple haters. If it was “the logical next step”, why do you suppose it’s so often Apple that takes that step first and the rest of the industry soon follows on their heels? Why aren’t the others showing us how to make the leap?

  32. Aaron says:

    To be fair, Apple did steal their design from Star Trek.

  33. Picador says:

    So… tablets in 2000-2005 were big and bulky with relatively small screens at a time when LCD displays were extremely expensive and computer hardware was big and bulky, and tablets in 2008-2011 are slimmer with bigger screens at a time when LCDs are cheap and hardware is smaller? Nobody could have thought of this amazing design innovation except Steve Jobs.

    • shm224 says:

      this is funny.. I have three iPhones 3, 3g, 4, but never realized how thick and heavy they were until Samsung’s Galaxy S2 came along.

      Looking back, it’s amazing how I was able to read Bloomberg news feed on that tiny screen. After a couple of weeks with SGS2, my iPhones feel like bricks . Sure, Steve Jobs couldn’t have thought about anything better.

  34. David Hill says:

    So, that’s why Apple is a Nokia licensee? That’s why Apple has to pay Nokia for every iPhone on the market? Because Apple is the great innovator?

  35. sunhaq says:

    Bad choice of devices actually. Your “pre ipad” devices looks they have been selected to fit your article, how about these that have been out years before the Apple even imagined building the iPad:

    Hardware got a bit smaller since then, black/white is the new silver fashion wise and since todays tablets are not using pens anymore you also don’t need the extra buttons for easy access without pen anymore. Imho todays tablet design is the logical next step gathered from technical innovation and clearly not created by Apple.

    • Alforque says:

      Quite true. Although this has a stylus, it’s pretty much the iPad in 1994:

    • Riwaterman says:

      Put an iPad next to another pre-ipad tablet.

      Are they both off?

      Step back and view them at three feet away.

      Do they look so much alike you can’t tell the difference?

      If yes then there could be consumer confusion and the iPad copied the earlier model. I don’t think you will think the iPad design mimics the others so much that you can’t tell the difference.

      Now try this with the Samsung tablet. I think you will think they are the same tablet by the same manufacturer.

      Turn them on and do the same test.

      Again the results will be the same I think.

      This is the issue.

      Oh by the way no one has mentioned Alan Kay’s DynaBook conceived Back in 1968 when he was at Xerox PARC. He then went to work at Apple. And what about John Sculley’s Knowledge Navigator and the the Apple Newton and eMate – very popular in schools for a short period back in the late 1970s.

  36. Eric says:

    Of course if you show only things that look alike, you can say things look alike.

    Show the tablets that DONT look like the iPad to make this more accurate.

    Asus Transformer, various Archos tablets, etc.

    Apple didn’t invent rectangles.

    • Peter says:

      I guess they chose to only tablets that are actually sellling. Why not include LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer if you are going to include poor samples.
      Compared to iPad, Kindle and Nook, is any other single tablet really doing well?

    • Peter says:

      I guess they chose to only include tablets that are actually sellling. Why not include LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer if you are going to include poor samples? Asus Transformer (ha).
      Compared to iPad, Kindle and Nook, is any other single tablet really doing well?

  37. bozkarking says:

    How about this?

    The real difference is Windows and desktop OS’s on a tablet vs an OS that is designed for portables and cell phones on a tablet, be it iOS or Android.

  38. Ryan says:

    Designs are evolutionary. Apple cannot be given credit here. It was the natural next step. Smaller components and capacitive touchscreens would have led to these designs regardless of the existence of the iPad. Smaller components and capacitive touchscreens are not the invention of Apple, and Apple should be given no credit here. Not to mention, the iPad looks almost exactly like a thinner version of the HP TC1000 as alluded to by a previous commenter.

  39. Tabe says:

    I don’t get the point. That’s generally how industry works. Someone designs something, someone else takes it and improves upon it.. rinse, wash, repeat. It’s not like Apple hasn’t copied anything from others. Yes, Apple is a great innovator. Not sure what’s “amusing” about this, though.

  40. Fred Fnord says:

    Come over here and let me explain to you the concept of ‘nested replies’ before you make yourself look like an ass again.

  41. sean says:

    Yes, I see that Apple’s design id almost a direct copy of original Windows tablet designs, in fact the HP tc1000 missing which despite being an inch thick has a very small bezel. I think HP may have a case here.

    So yes I agree that Apple took an already existing design and simply tweaked it.

    Let’s thank all those manufacturers for doing the groundwork for Apple!

    • David Burnett says:

      Seems rather bulky to have to carry around an external keyboard and a stylus. And the OS seems more like another port of Windows.

      The only thing hey seemed to ‘copy’ is the frame style.

    • Mike says:

      You seriously think the iPad looks anything like those windows tables? How so?

      • Ryan says:

        Read the article. He said they look different, not the same. The point is that when the iPad came out the tablet makers changed their design to match not that the iPad looks like those old models.

        Are you old enough to vote? Because it’s kind of scary that you were confused by such a simple diagram…

        • Eoban says:

          Uh, and maybe YOU should’ve noticed that Mike was replying to sean’s comment, not the article itself:

          “Yes, I see that Apple’s design id almost a direct copy of original Windows tablet designs”

          It’s kind of scary that you were confused by such a simple comment thread hierarchy…

        • Elroy says:

          Oh really? Did you check the Compaq he mentioned? I’ll provide a URL:

          Funny enough that came out way before the ipad and seems to be a missing link. It resembles the ipad more than the other tablets before it. Also note it can be used with the Keyboard detached!

          Apple stole the design, they only changed the color ;)

    • Riwaterman says:

      The only one of these three that truly predates the iPad design is the HP 1100 which was sold in 2006 or 2005.

      The joo joo and the HP Slate were actually introduced as a real product AFTER the iPad!

      Sure you can say that HP and JooJoo had designed it before the introduction of the iPad but so was the iPad.

      The iPad certainly cannot be confused with the HP1100. Overall Design may be similar but side by side they are two very different looking tablets. No consumer confusion results.

  42. Tyler says:

    You forgot about the entire deluge of PC Tablets that were basically laptops where the monitor folded around backwards and had touch sensitive screens like this thing–

  43. Peter says:

    This isn’t any different than when Macintosh was released. Every PC maker soon followed with a similar design and soon Windows appeared with a mimicking interface. Apple has always led the industry, it has been this way for over 30 years now.

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