Apple Says “No” to Netbook, Quietly Nods “Yes” to Tablet?

appletabletAs I mentioned in my post about Apple’s (s aapl) second-quarter conference call, COO Tim Cook pretty stridently denied that the company had plans to produce any kind of netbook device. Instead, he pointed customers toward the iPhone and iPod touch, saying those devices provided most of what consumers are looking for from a netbook anyway. It seemed like an outright rejection, but could it possibly have been a coy admission that some kind of tablet-type device was in the works?

Charlie Sorrel of Wired’s GadgetLab thinks so. He interprets Cook’s words during the teleconference differently, suggesting that they could leave the door open for a new entry in the iPhone/iPod touch category, with a larger screen and more similarities to a tablet computer.

It’s true that this kind of device makes more sense from the standpoint of Apple’s objections to netbooks in general. There’s no keyboard to be concerned about, battery life would be more in line with the iPhone than a notebook computer, and you have a built-in library of applications that are better suited to mobile usage than traditional PC or Mac apps.

As Sorrel points out, John Gruber of Daring Fireball also noticed that the software keyboard in iPhone OS 3.0 appears to be dynamically rescaled, or rendered independent of resolution. The iPhone and iPod touch currently only support one resolution, so the need for this must come from some other hardware source.

Taken individually, these pieces of information wouldn’t really be cause for much excitement, but taken together, they do suggest an interesting possibility. And just recently, a photo came to light that seems to strengthen the tablet-device argument even further. just posted this picture today, which was sent in by an anonymous tipster. It definitely looks like a mock-up, and could easily be a fan’s Photoshop attempt, but it resonates quite significantly with both Sorrel’s conference call takeaway and Gruber’s software keyboard discovery.

(Photo courtesy Andy on Flickr)