Like a souffl??Â« puffing on hot air, rumors of an Apple tablet continued to rise over the long holiday weekend, buoyed by absolutely no official comment from the company itself over whether it intended to produce such a multitouch device in 2010.
Apple-centric blogs, notably MacRumors, have sniffed out that Apple may have possibly acquired the domain name islate.com. While typing the URL into a browser yields only a "Page Load Error," MacRumors apparently dug into the domain name registrant history for the site and found that, in late 2007, Apple Inc. was indeed the Registrant of record for the site.
The name "iSlate," according to TechCrunch, was registered as a trademark three years ago; according to the blog, the company doing the registering, Slate Computing, could possibly be an Apple dummy corporation.
In late October, Bill Keller, the executive editor at The New York Times, also alluded to "the impending Apple slate." However, the question remains whether Keller was referring to "Slate," proper noun, or "slate," as in "upcoming slate of products." Other reports at the same time suggested that Apple was in talks with publishing companies over porting their content onto an Apple device.
Additionally fueling the rumors over the weekend was a report in the Financial Times blog, widely disseminated, which quoted unnamed inside sources as saying that Apple had rented the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, for several days near the end of January.
A "major product announcement" would be made on that stage come Jan. 26, the sources suggested.
Boy Genius Report also posted on Dec. 23 that "one of our very connected sources let us know that they've heard very solid information about Apple's upcoming tablet...our connect said there is 100 [percent] a 7" Apple tablet, to be announced in January." Boy Genius emphasized that the source had "been amazingly accurate for us in the past."
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who has spent the past several months digging into the possibilities of an Apple tablet, recently estimated in a research note that there was a 75 percent likelihood that Apple would host an event in January, and a 50 percent chance that said event would be used to launch a tablet.
Despite the omnipresent rumors, Apple has followed its typical pattern in keeping any official pronouncements about a device tamped down. An Aug. 24 report in The Wall Street Journal suggested that CEO Steve Jobs was devoting a substantial chunk of time to the creation of a tablet PC, an article that led Jobs himself to e-mail the newspaper that, "most of your information is incorrect."
Apple also filed a series of patents over the course of 2009, including one for a touch screen that can be manipulated with the fingers of both hands as well as the palms, that many conjectured were ultimately for the technology behind a tablet.
Gene Munster has suggested in previous notes that the tablet could be based off the iPhone OS, with apps designed for a larger screen, or else a modified version of the Mac OS X. Oppenheimer & Co. financial analyst Yair Reiner posited in a Dec. 8 research note that the tablet would be released in late March or April, and include a 10.1-inch touch screen; in addition, Reiner cited unnamed sources as telling him that "Apple is approaching book publishers with a very attractive proposal for distributing their content."
Apple may also integrate 3G wireless into the device, these and other analysts have theorized, which potentially opens the door to a deal between Apple and a wireless carrier. While AT&T currently supports the iPhone, recent criticism of its network could potentially lead Apple to back a rival such as Verizon. Analyst guesses as to a tablet retail price have generally ranged from $500 to nearly $2,000, before the cost of a potential data plan is factored in.
But until Apple makes an official announcement, all this remains conjecture.