Apple's mythical tablet computer is the stuff of gadget blogger wet dreams. We've covered the rumored device many times, and Chris Dannen has even explored why they keep resurfacing. But many more rumors keep popping up. Why, why, and why?
The newest whispers are that Wintek has been independently confirmed as the supplier for an Apple "e-book form factor netbook product," which reads as a tablet-PC with a display somewhere in the 9-10 inches range. Meanwhile Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has been at it again, offering a fairly detailed prediction about the device. According to Munster, the project's been delayed until early 2010, and it'll run a third version of OS X that's halfway between the iPhone and Apple's full operating system. He expects it to be in the $500 to $700 price range.
Meanwhile, Micheal Arrington over at TechCrunch is taking time off from promoting his own pseudo-netbook to say that there's evidence Apple's diverted "significant" personnel from the iPhone and MacBook teams to work on the project, that the device is "very real" and will be "particularly useful for gaming."
So, add in the tidbits of data from earlier rumors, and a fairly complete picture of a device that's not quite a netbook is beginning to take shape—which makes sense, as Apple's own Steve Jobs and Tim Cook have rubbished those devices many times.
But that's assuming there's actually a fire behind all this smoke.
So why do these rumors keep popping up? Because Apple's iPhone is king of the smartphone. Because every man and, sometimes, his dog has an iPod and loves it. Because even Microsoft's own ad campaign lambasts Apple's products as being terribly cool, ignorant of the irony involved in that argument. And because the netbook revolution took everyone by surprise: Everyone now knows about the little machines, but they're small, inefficient, often user-unfriendly and only rarely well-designed. Consequently, everyone's imagining what a wonderfully designed little device Apple's Jonathan Ive would cook up, married to an iPhonesque App Store, and hitting the Kindle where it hurts.
That's a very potent mix, and it's why the rumors keep swirling. I hope they're right—an Apple-inspired mini tablet PC would likely be a fabulous thing. If, and only if, Apple gets its pricing right: Low, please Apple? Think lower.