Covering the recent Apple Tablet rumors last week, I never imagined there would be a whole bunch of new ones popping up so soon, but that's exactly what happened over the weekend and today. I've summed them all up for you.
The Apple Tablet's Name
Over the holiday weekend, a huge burst of online interest was sparked by the discovery that someone had trademarked the name "iSlate" a few years back, in both the U.S. and Europe—it's a name that some have thrown around as a possible for a while. Digging, investigations, and suppositions by several different writers then discovered the trademark might be linked back to Apple, and then the discussion simply rocketed off.
The chaps at TechCrunch discovered iSlate had been registered by Slate Computing LLC in November 2006, with the added kicker that the registration happened in Delaware, which is where the iPhone trademark was filed by another unknown company, Ocean Telecom Services. Furthermore, the signature on the file was that of a Regina Porter, which is also the name of Apple's Senior Trademark Specialist. Coincidence?
Now this doesn't mean it's 100% guaranteed to be the tablet's real name—Slate Computing also filed for the name "Magic Slate," which chimes nicely with the naming scheme started by the recent Apple Magic Mouse. And the 2006 date could also mean it was a back-up name for the iPhone itself, and Apple was heavily covering its bases. Wild guesswork also could be used to infer the "Magic Slate" is a USB multitouch control peripheral for desktop PCs.
With memories of an Apple prototype device back in the early '90s (yes, Apple's been working on this tech for nearly 20 years) dubbed "MessageSlate," then the fact "iSlate" might be the real name really looks more and more likely. Do you like it?
The most recent facts about the screen supported the notion Apple was making the iSlate with a 7-inch screen, meaning it'd be about four times as big as an iPhone. But today another manufacturer, Innolux, has supposedly leaked out the fact it's been given an order by Apple for 10-inch "touch panels" for the device. Other rumors are suggesting Apple contractor Foxconn has been working on strengthening the glass, which really will be important on a big screen slate-format device.
That size also marries up with a 10-inch dimension we'd heard about before, and we're supposing the "touch panel" phrase is a mistranslation. So what gives with these multiple sizes? Is Apple likely to release the iSlate in two different sizes? It's not beyond the pale. A small one, with a fairly limited battery life, would sell to people who prefer convenience over raw power and would presumably cost a few dollars less, whereas a large one would sell to people who want the whole experience. It's an equivalent to Apple's multiple versions of the MacBook, each catering for different needs.
This is the least exciting rumor, but it all adds to the mix: Cheng Uei Precision Industry is reported as having received orders for the connectors for Apple's upcoming tablet PC. This fits, since Cheng Uei already makes components for Apple—and though it also makes gear that goes into the Xbox and Motorola phones, among others, the company really seems to be making the most serious dough from iPhone parts.
But does the ship date for this new order of the third quarter of 2010 make sense? Well, it doesn't match rumors for an early 2010 launch for the iSlate—and these rumors have been getting stronger. But it does tally with a late launch for the iPhone version 4, assuming the order's not for the new tablet, but for the new iPhone. Would Apple shunt the new iPhone version a little later to give space for the iSlate to soak up all the news, and give time for the current iPhone version 3 to sell into more markets, like China? You betcha it would.
Mr. Jobs himself has apparently killed off the Apple Tablet several times in the past, since it didn't meet his exacting standards. But now Steve is apparently thrilled with the new one, according to anonymous inside sources. And that's the singe most positive rumor we've heard about the iSlate yet. Which might well be why Apple's price hit an all time high of $209.35 last week—on the strength of interest in a device is as yet still unconfirmed.