Reports from the Financial Times and Apple Insider suggest Apple is readying a tablet, probably priced below $1,000, for a Christmas or first-quarter 2010 release.
Rumors surrounding Apple's potential tablet PC, about which the company has
so far kept silent, continue to sweep across the Internet, most recently with a
from Apple blog Apple Insider
that the company is "racing toward" a 2010 release date for a 3G tablet-style
computer. Quoting unnamed sources at Apple, the blog said critical pieces are
falling into place to allow a tablet to become a reality, including CEO
Steve Jobs' return to the company from medical leave.
"He's since cemented the device in the company's 2010 roadmap, where it's
being positioned for a first quarter launch," the blog post assures, according
to unnamed sources. Apple Insider claims the device will hit the market in the
first quarter of 2010 and carry a price tag somewhere between Apple's top-of-the-line
iPhone model and its lowest-priced notebook, which retails for $999.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported
Apple is racing to get the tablet to
market by the Christmas shopping season and the device will likely have a
10-inch touch-screen interface. Quoting sources "briefed on the project," the paper
reported that Apple will also launch
content deals alongside the device, including
an attempt to revive the music business through "Project Cocktail," which
FT.com reported will launch in September.
The launch of a tablet is seen by many as an opportunity for Apple to
redefine a market niche that has traditionally struggled. It is also seen as an
answer to Apple's lack of a netbook offering. Netbooks, which are smaller, less
expensive notebooks, have seen sales rise sharply over the past year as consumers
look to less expensive but capable portable computers.
Last week, Apple COO Tim Cook used
Apple's earnings call to talk down
as "netbooks"-that have buoyed earnings for the rest of the PC
market. According to Cook, price point and computing power are major factors in
Apple's decision to stay out of the space. However, he also declined to comment
on rumors that Apple is developing a tablet PC that would bridge the product
gap between the iPod Touch and Macs.
"I think most customers buying a portable want to buy a full-featured
notebook," Cook said, noting that he sees production costs and margins as
an issue for Apple entering that market.
"[However], some of the
netbooks being delivered are very slow, they have software technology that is
old, they don't have a robust computing experience ... that kind of thing a lot
of people will not be happy with."
Rumors and speculation regarding Apple's future computer production plans
surfaced earlier in the month, when The China Times reported
that Apple will be debuting
a tablet-style computer as early as October that will retail for around $800.
"We recognize there are large markets left uncovered," Cook pointed
out at the earnings call. "At this point we don't see a way to build a
great product for $399 [or] $499. As I've said before, I think some customers-maybe
many customers-become disappointed and disenchanted after buying [netbooks]."