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Summary:

Do I have $800 to spend on yet another Apple device that bridges the (relatively small) gap between my iPhone and my 13-inch MacBook Pro? Not really. But if rumors prove true and this October does indeed see the launch of a small tablet device priced […]

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Do I have $800 to spend on yet another Apple device that bridges the (relatively small) gap between my iPhone and my 13-inch MacBook Pro? Not really. But if rumors prove true and this October does indeed see the launch of a small tablet device priced in that area coming out of Cupertino, I will be hard-pressed not to find an excuse to pick one up. In my dream of dreams, such a device would also be Wacom penabled, but Apple rarely seems to take into account my opinion when designing new products.

Regardless, I’m probably better off earmarking that $800 as pretty much spent, according to new reports from Chinese tech news site Info Times. The site, which is renowned for reporting rumors and leaks on the supply chain side of Apple’s operations, is now saying that the tech giant is set to begin actual production on a 9.7-inch touchscreen device, aimed at competing with the netbook market. $800 is still a far cry from the $300 to $400 most basic netbooks will cost, but who’s counting?

The suppliers who’ve received orders from Apple for parts for the device are the usual suspects, including Foxconn, Wintek and Dynapack. Rumors have long been circulating that Wintek has been tapped to provide screens around 9.7-inches in size, so if nothing else, this latest rumor is at least consistent with previous ones. No other details about the device are made specific in the article, including whether or not it will also have some kind of keyboard, what OS or software it will use, or what kind of hardware specs it will have under the hood.

Let the wild guesses begin. For my part, I think Steve Jobs & Co. must have something fairly out of the ordinary in mind if they want to release an $800 device to compete in a market that really tops out around $500. Jobs once remarked that Apple didn’t “know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that,” but will consumers see the $300 worth of value-add that goes into this new device, should the rumored price point prove accurate?

I think that Apple is probably counting on establishing a new device category rather than competing with the netbook market. Basically, it looks to me like it wants to recreate its success with the iPhone by porting the same incredibly versatile software platform to a device more suited to browsing, video playback, and touchscreen gaming. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was compatible with some kind of keyboard peripheral, which would give you maximum portability with the option to add girth, along with productivity enhancement should you need it. With 3G-capable netbooks popping up in deals with U.S. wireless providers, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple announces a similar partnership to offset the high cost of this tablet, either.

It will be hard for Apple to thread the needle, so to speak, on a device which arguably fits into a very small niche in its existing line of offerings, but the company has been known to tap unexplored markets before, so we’ll have to wait and see if it can pull it off yet again.

Photo courtesy of flickr user factoryjoe.

  1. hope your right, and that tablet will have an alternate option around $1500
    to offer more space and ram,

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  2. [...] we know (jkOnTheRun) FriendFeed search: Filtering for popularity and relevance (WebWorkerDaily) Rumor: An $800 Apple tablet by October? (TheAppleBlog) Daimler shrinks Tesla stake with sale to Abu Dhabi (Earth2Tech) Publishers switching [...]

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  3. I think this is a hot idea. Here is the niche that it fills for me:
    1. When I travel, I’d rather not take a laptop with me. I’d rather just take my phone. But my iPhone isn’t enough. I am not a good enough typist to make the small keyboard acceptable for significant e-mail, and websites are usable, but not enjoyable on the phone (for the most part)
    2. I have an MBA (Rev A) and a netbook. The netbook has been relegated to the kids because of its small screen size. The MBA is my primary machine and I like it very well. But often, I wish it were even smaller and faster to start.
    3. The tablet would capture the spot that I need. The right size for e-mail, presentation delivery, media and web consumption, but not so big that I really have to think about bringing it or not.

    I really am excited about this idea.

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  4. I doubt they’ll turn on old-style-keyboard support. Apple killed the keyboard. And Apple doesn’t want to see people getting in the habit of lugging around an old keyboard everywhere they go. People would point and laugh.

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  5. But I’ll be able to feel the colors.

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  6. personally, i’d LOVE to see a new mac product like this much rumored tablet/netbook/godbook/etc. but i don’t expect ANYTHING usual with this. instead i predict:

    + no physical keyboards, only pop-up like the iphone
    + 3G ability built in
    + blue tooth/wifi for sure

    and more. read this:
    http://themacdweeb.blogspot.com/2009/05/mac-tablet-what-we-know-what-i-predict.html

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  7. wow…an Apple for under $800…I never thought I would see such a thing…

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  8. I seriously doubt this will be something with 3G built in. Maybe a secure sd slot like the laptops have would make more sense. Wireless 3G cards can be made if not already out there. Eye-sight built in, 720p video, mini-display port, wireless N and bluetooth built in. USB port. Basically a super-stripped down MBA with patented multi-touch screen. 64GB solid state drive, optional 128GB and a single i/o audio port. Apple will leave keyboards to 3rd party peripheral makers who want to create a fold-up bluetooth keyboard for traditionalists.

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  9. Doubtful it’s a netbook. More likely their long-rumored “tablet Mac” – which is nothing more than an oversized iPod Touch. **Could** be a great seller, depending on features. That of course is if the rumor is even true to begin with! ;)

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