Talk of an Apple Tablet
By this point, though, it also seemed as if Apple was attracting as much buzz for its vaporware as its products. Rumors that the company was working on a tablet PC for release sometime in 2010, something that Apple refused to either confirm or deny, caught fire after a report in The Wall Street Journal that Steve Jobs was devoting almost all of his attention to the hypothetical device. Despite Jobs e-mailing the Journal to say "most of your information is incorrect," a combination of media reports, blogger suggestions and analyst speculation continued to fuel the rumor fire throughout the late summer and early fall. An Aug. 7 research report by Gene Munster suggested that the tablet would be based off either the iPhone OS or else a modified version of the Mac OS X, sell for somewhere in the $500 to $700 range, and sell 2 million units in its first year of release.In the meantime, the App Store grew to more than 100,000 applications, with Apple claiming more than 2 billion application downloads. With that explosive growth, though, came increased calls from outside to impose a regulatory framework on the online storefront. In December, Apple seemed to be moving in that direction, weeding out some developers accused of posting useless applications and fake positive reviews, and offering an RSS feed devoted to news and announcements for iPhone developers. On Oct. 19, Apple reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that surpassed Wall Street expectations, with revenue of $9.87 billion and a net quarterly profit of $1.67 billion, although sales of traditional iPods declined about 8 percent year-over-year due to "cannibalization" thanks to iPod Touch and iPhone sales. Mac and iPhone sales remained strong, though, and Apple later announced plans to expand its retail footprint by 40 to 50 stores worldwide in 2010. Steve Jobs wasn't present on that earnings call, and nor did he announce the new store openings-but as Apple's year comes to a close, there's little doubt that he's firmly in charge.
By the end of the year, other analysts had likewise leapt on the Apple tablet bandwagon. Oppenheimer & Co. financial analyst Yair Reiner suggested in a Dec. 8 research note that the device would include a 10.1-inch LTPS-based LCD touch screen and sell for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000 dollars. Apple's patent applications throughout 2009, including one filed in June that described a device with a screen that could be manipulated with a combination of fingers and palms, did nothing to quell the scuttlebutt-but until Apple decides to officially comment, any tablet PC must remain in the realm of vaporware.