Apple Tablet to Hit Market in March, Report Says
The frenzied speculation around Apple's highly anticipated
Apple tablet device-if it exists, that is-was ratcheted up another level after
The Wall Street Journal reported that the tablet will ship in March, quoting
sources briefed by Apple. Previous reports suggest Apple is planning to
announce the touch screen device at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San
Francisco sometime between Jan. 25 and 27. The tablet, which hasn't been
officially named yet, is likely to measure about 10 inches and offer Wi-Fi
connectivity. The paper also reported Apple is working on two different
finishes for the tablet.
One component of the launch that is keeping analysts
guessing is the price of the tablet; Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Yair Reiner
wrote a December research note predicting a price point of around $1,000-the
price of Apple's least expensive notebook. In comparison, semiconductor
manufacturer Freescale Semiconductor recently announced its plans for entering the tablet
market with a $200 device.
Regardless of price and final design, the impending product
launch, which sources say company CEO Steve Jobs has made a top priority since
his return to Apple, spurred a massive amount of speculation from analysts and
the technology community, including a former Google China executive reportedly
wrote in his blog that Apple expects to sell 10 million tablet PCs in its first
year out. Lee Kai-fu, former president of Google Inc. Greater China, claimed on
his blog 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.
The day before Christmas, a report by 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.
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."