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Touch Screen Mac in the Pipeline for 2009?

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Unlike our own timid news media, Chinese newspapers have no qualms about reporting tech rumors related to Apple (s aapl), 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.

18 Responses to “Touch Screen Mac in the Pipeline for 2009?”

  1. knowin mac, there gonna make like a netbook that actually has ram, and a good harddrive. dont forget the graphics. heres probalby wats gonna happen..
    theyre gonna make like a really thin netbook thats bout 12 inchs. bluetooth, wirlesss all of that just like a normal note book will be included. but the screen itself wil be pretty thick considering how thin they r now. im guesing it will sell for bout $600+ but then again it mught actually be worth, if they figure out how to make a multi touch, finger sensitive, motion sensitive and thin touch screen and by da looks of it…thats gonna take a while

  2. What I find exciting about this is that as the touch screen emerges, as the standard screen type on all portable computers, we will start to see people interact with video in new and exciting ways. This is going to bring about a boom in interactive video and the industry that develops it. There is about to be a mad rush for this space from any directions, google, yhaoo, adobe and a heap of smaller players especially in the area of advertising. Touch screens mean we can engage with video content more deeply and learn more – about whatever it is – a brand’s identity – consequences of different choices etc.

  3. Potentially driving the success of such a product: As boomers age, they are going to find the awkwardness of using portable devices with keyboards less and less comfortable with weakening eyes and soreness-prone shoulders. As wifi use expands, the demand for portable computers that are small enough to be used as net phones will be strong.

    I’ve been holding off on buying a net phone, portable computer, new phone, kindle, etc. for over a year, hoping that something like this rumored apple product would come along.

    Such devices are already available, but with price tags over $1000 for use by workers such as engineers in the field and doctors making rounds.

  4. Bob Forsberg

    It will never appear on the Mac side, but surely on the iPod side of the Apple product chain.

    EMail, browser, e-reader and Skype with tunes and video on a much bigger iPod Touch “big screen”….more like a Kindle than a netbook….probably August 2009.

    Being a iPod Touch doesn’t interfere with iPhone agreements and look at all the apps already available.

  5. “…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…”

    cache |ka sh |
    a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place : an arms cache | a cache of gold coins.
    • a hidden or inaccessible storage place for valuables, provisions, or ammunition.
    • (also cache memory) Computing an auxiliary memory from which high-speed retrieval is possible.
    verb [ trans. ]
    store away in hiding or for future use.
    • Computing store (data) in a cache memory.
    • Computing provide (hardware) with a cache memory.
    ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from French, from cacher ‘to hide.’

    cachet |kaˈ sh ā|
    1 the state of being respected or admired; prestige : no other shipping company had quite the cachet of Cunard.
    2 a distinguishing mark or seal.
    • Philately a printed design added to an envelope to commemorate a special event.
    3 a flat capsule enclosing a dose of unpleasant-tasting medicine.
    ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from French, from cacher in the sense ‘to press,’ based on Latin coactare ‘constrain.’

    Otherwise a good read.

  6. While Apple may not want to enter the sub-$500 market, that was their thinking with the iPhone when it first came out. And look how the price dropped. Perhaps this time Apple will come in at the correct price point.

  7. I don’t think that whatever Apple is up to will fall into the same category as ‘netbook.’ Apple’s stated goal of not getting into the sub-$500 marketplace for laptops (be them of the net- or note- variety). However, Apple making an oversized ipod touch device about the size of the bluetooth keyboard (and new non number pad adorned wired keyboards) that serves some of that same purpose makes sense.

    Like everyone else, I’m really excited about the prospect of this, but how Apple prices it is what concerns me. Part of me hopes this is why the new Mini’s aren’t priced any lower, as they are aiming for something at that level ($500 entry level pricepoint). Just a touch panel, no included keyboard (but bluetooth enabled for keyboard) and very limited storage as I doubt we’d see anything beyond flash storage.

    Here’s hoping this is legit and we have a completely new category of portable from Apple before Fall!

  8. Gazoobee

    Not ot rain on your parade but …

    I don’t think there is any reason to think this is anything but a small tablet running iPhone OSX about the size of a small pad of paper or novel.

    I don’t think it will run full OS-X like the picture, or have a hardware keyboard and clamshell case as others are arguing.

    If we are really lucky we may be able to draw on it or write in cursive, and it will be for reading books and editing documents on the go, replacing the clipboard used in hospitals and factories everywhere, the Kindle, and pretty much all “netbooks.”

    That’s my prediction anyway. :-)