The Wall Street Journal reports that the return of CEO Steve Jobs, and his dedication to producing a tablet computer, is ruffling some feathers at Apple.
While reports of an impending announcement of a tabletlike device from Apple
continue to consume the Internet, new information suggests since CEO
Steve Jobs' return to active duty at the company, his focus has been on the
production and launch of such a device.
The Wall Street Journal quoted sources "familiar with the situation" as
saying Jobs has been concentrating on a portable, touch-screen device since his
return, causing a certain measure of frustration among other Apple employees.
"People have had to readjust" to Jobs' return, an unnamed employee told
the paper, although an e-mail Jobs sent to the WSJ said much of the paper's
information was incorrect, albeit without going into further detail. Jobs took
a six-month medical leave of absence from the company in January of this year,
approximately five years after he revealed he had been diagnosed with
For months, rumors concerning the release of a tablet device from the
company known for its astutely designed, if expensive, computers and consumer
devices such as the popular iPhone and iPod digital music player, have piqued
the interest of analysts, investors and consumers. Despite the growing
popularity of smaller, less expensive netbooks, Apple COO
Tim Cook and Jobs have repeatedly stated they have no interest in producing a
computer in the $500 range, which is the price point where most netbook manufacturers
find themselves around. The tablet device is widely considered to be Apple's
alternative answer to those devices and an attempt to change consumers'
conceptions about tablet computers, which have struggled to find an audience.
Earlier this month, Barron's reported that an unnamed analyst got a look at
the tablet the company has in the works, which features a 10-inch screen and
integrated 3G, according to the financial publication. The tablet is expected
to be priced between $699 and $799 and, as a media- and game-focused device, be
capable of playing high-definition movies. Some pundits predict the tablet will
make its debut during Apple's press event on Sept. 9, though other analysts and
research firms suggest a release date closer to January 2010.
Adding to the frenzy of the tablet rumors was a research note released earlier this month by Piper
Jaffray, which said the Apple tablet PC will be cheaper than a MacBook but
still more expensive than the netbooks that are currently dominating sales on
the lower end of the PC market. Despite that higher price point, Piper Jaffray
sees an Apple tablet PC as a challenger in the netbook market, as well as
competing against mobile devices from companies such as Amazon.com.
The issue of price is still expected to play a role in the release of such a
device, at least to the lucrative college student market, according to a recent
survey by product review search service
Retrevo. While the tablet is expected to be priced within the general netbook
market, albeit the higher end, its notebooks, which start at $949, may start to
see sales declines.
Retrevo said it polled more than 300 of its 4 million monthly visitors and
found that the "majority of student laptop shoppers will not consider buying a
Mac," with price being a considerable factor.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.