Apple Tablet Finally Arriving in January?
It doesn't take much to get the Apple rumor mill spinning at
full tilt, especially when it comes to hints and suggestions over the company's
long anticipated, never-officially-confirmed tablet device. While speculation
has grown (and peaked, and subsided, and grown again) over the past couple of
years, Apple has managed to successfully suppress any official details of the
supposed tablet. However, the news that Apple has rented out a stage at the
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco has generated speculation that
Apple is gearing up to announce a tablet-like device.
The report in the Financial Times blog quoted unnamed inside
sources that said Apple rented the stage for several days toward the end of
January, in preparation for "a major product announcement" on Jan. 26, a
Tuesday. Other recent reports, including a research note by Piper Jaffray
analyst Gene Munster, who said there is a 75 percent likelihood that Apple will
have an event in January and a 50 percent chance that it would be held to
launch the Apple Tablet, and a report in The Wall Street Journal which said
Apple is briefing major media companies like CBS and Disney on a tablet-like
device, suggest Apple may release the device during the first quarter of 2010.
Earlier this year, Munster issued a report suggesting that
the tablet would feature a 7- to 10-inch screen and retail for between $500 and
$700, effectively filling a strategic gap for Apple between the iPod Touch and
its low-end Mac desktops. Munster wrote, "We believe an Apple tablet would
be priced 30 to 50 percent below the $999 MacBook, and would offer
best-in-class Web, e-mail and media software. In other words, we believe
Apple's tablet would compete well in the netbook category even though it would
not be a netbook."
Munster suggested that an Apple tablet's operating system would
resemble either the iPhone OS, with multitasking capability and applications
designed specifically for a device with a larger screen, or else a
multitouch-enabled version of Mac OS X. However, he wrote, "We expect
Apple to build on the multitouch technology built into the iPhone and iPod
Touch along with the App Store ecosystem, with an OS more comparable to the iPhone's,
not the Mac's."
Apple may also integrate a mobile data feature such as 3G
wireless into the device, and could even subsidize the device through a
wireless carrier, Munster added. He cited the trend toward subsidized netbooks,
for example, Verizon's partnership with Hewlett-Packard to carry the HP Mini
1151NR. The Apple tablet could also challenge Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader if
Apple accompanies the device with a push to sell digital books through the