An Apple tablet PC in the new year is sounding increasingly likely.
Lee Kai-fu, former president of Google Inc. Greater China, wrote in a Dec. 28 post on his Website that Apple is expecting to ship 10 million tablet computers in the first year of the device's release, according to reporting from Bloomberg.
Lee is currently the head of Innovation Works, a company funded, in part, by Foxconn Technology Group, which owns Hon Hai Precision Industry, the supplier of the Apple iPhone. Reportedly, Lee said he was told the 10-million-tablets figure by a friend familiar with the project.
Lee additionally wrote that Apple will release the device in January, for less than $1,000 and that it will feature a 10.1-inch multitouch screen with 3G graphics, essentially looking like a giant iPhone, Bloomberg reported.
Speculation that Apple will introduce a tablet PC in January - though the company has yet to confirm it is even working on one - increased on Dec. 30 when the Financial Times reported that Apple has booked event space at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco for Jan. 26. On that date, it's expected that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will introduce the tablet, which fans have been hoping for since Apple booked the Yerba Buena space back in September, for what wound up being the introduction of a new iPod Nano and a price reduction for the Apple TV.
Rumors of an Apple tablet began as early as May, when Piper Jaffrey analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note, "We expect Apple to fill the gap between the iPod Touch and the MacBook with a new tablet device (not a netbook) priced at about $500??Ã-$700."
While many speculate an Apple tablet could slow the runaway success of the netbook market, Munster added that it could also overlap into the e-reader space.
"With a larger table device in Apple's lineup, the company could begin selling digital books on its iTunes Store, for use on the tablet as an eBook reader," Munster wrote. "In this way, Apple could respond to the tangential competition from Amazon's Kindle and Kindle DX."