Touch Screen Mac in the Pipeline for 2009?

Unlike our own timid news media, Chinese newspapers have no qualms about reporting tech rumors related to Apple, and, to be fair, they are much closer to the source, since China is where the bulk of Apple hardware is made. The latest report from Chinese news sources is cause for genuine excitement for the Apple faithful, because it tells of a long sought-after beast of legend, the Apple touchscreen device.

And not just any touchscreen device, either. If the sources are to be believed, this will be a touchscreen netbook computer, which, basically, is all I ever wanted in a girl, er, I mean an Apple computer. In fact, the very perfection of this rumor leaves me skeptical, but I can’t help but hope, and the news source is heavy on the specifics and seems pretty certain of what it’s reporting.

The details are as follows: Taiwan-based company Wintek has received the contract to supply touchscreen panels for Apple products, though it’s not sure what the final application will be. At the same time, Quanta Computer is reported to have won the contract for new Apple netbooks, which is where the Wintek touch screens will be put to use. The news comes from the Commercial Times, as translated and reported by Digitimes.

There are two very different ways of looking at this. On the one hand, it makes complete and perfect sense. Apple fans are clamoring for an OS X-powered netbook, and we have the hackintosh pictures and tutorials to prove it. At this point, Apple’s pretty much the only computer manufacturer not involved in the OS X netbook game. And the netbook segment is pretty much the only part of the consumer computing market that isn’t taking a huge hit thanks to the worsening economic climate.

On the other hand, Apple hasn’t really even entertained the possibility of getting in to netbooks, although some analysts would claim otherwise. They don’t like the value proposition that such a low price point offers, and cheapening the brand would detract from their general cache. That said, the longer the economic slump lasts, the less they’ll be able to depend on their brand perception to keep customers coming back in the face of dropping PC prices from competitors.

While the details seem sketchy, and the rumored product seems too good to be true, we won’t have to wait long to see if this rumor pans out. According to Wintek, shipments of their touchscreen panels are set to begin in the second half of 2009, so we could see a product announcement as early as WWDC.

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