Evidence continues to mount that Apple will deliver a touchscreen tablet next year, with an analyst laying out solid reasoning for this rumored device to become a reality. It appears more likely to be an oversized iPod Touch, not a tabletized MacBook.
“Between indications from our component contacts in Asia, recent patents relating to multi-touch sensitivity for more complex computing devices, comments from [chief operating officer] Tim Cook on the April 22 conference call, and Apple’s acquisition of PA Semi along with other recent chip-related hires, it is increasingly clear that Apple is investing more in its mobile-computing franchise,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a research statement issued to clients.
Apple’s next step in mobile computing will likely be the release of a touchscreen tablet featuring a 7-to-10-inch display sometime in the first half of 2010, Munster predicts.
Apple enthusiasts have been gossiping about a Mac tablet since July 2008, when the first rumor about the fabled device surfaced at MacDailyNews. Since then, a stream of clues, rumors and statements from Apple suggest this product will indeed join the Apple product family soon, as Gadget Lab has been reporting for several months.
Apple itself has steadfastly refused to confirm or deny any hint of an Apple tablet.
While in theory Apple could simply make a larger-screen iPod Touch, Munster believes creating a tablet will be more complex. He speculates the operating system will be a hybrid between the iPhone’s mobile operating system and Mac OS X. Or, Apple could optimize a version of Mac OS X for the multitouch interface.
Price range? Munster is guessing between $500 and $700, positioning this device as Apple’s response to netbooks.
At its recent quarterly earnings call, Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook said the company had no plans to release a netbook, calling the device category “junky.”
“For us, it’s about doing great products,” Cook said. “And when I look at what is being sold in the netbook space today, I see cramped keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware, very small screens and just not a consumer experience … that we would put the Mac brand on, quite frankly.”
Other indications that it’s an upsized-iPod-Touch–style tablet in the works (rather than a “junky” netbook) involve Apple’s recent hiring of several chip designers, as well as its acquisition of PA Semi to develop mobile processors.
Would a touchscreen tablet be worth putting the Mac brand on? We think so.