Taiwanese news and rumors site DigiTimes is stirring up the Apple (s aapl) tablet pot today with reports that regular Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn will be producing the upcoming device. Shipments of the device are said to be set to begin in the first quarter of 2010, which would be in keeping with earlier rumors that the tablet would arrive in January of next year.
Sources speaking to DigiTimes placed initial shipment sizes at between 300,000 and 400,000, and that it will boast a 10.6-inch display using LCD panels provided by Foxconn subsidiary Innolux Display. Everything about the report makes logical sense, but that alone doesn’t guarantee reliability of information.
The source goes on to claim that Apple won’t be focusing on music or movies with this latest addition to its hardware line, and instead will be concentrating more on e-book functionality. Add to that a long-lasting battery, easy Internet connectivity, and trademark Apple UI simplicity, and you have the key selling features of the upcoming tablet.
DigiTimes also reports that HP (s hpq) will follow suit shortly after with a similar product of its own in the second quarter of 2010. Add to that the recent emergence of Microsoft’s (s msft) Courier device, and we have what looks an awful lot like the beginning of a brand new hardware product category.
Depending on Apple’s price point, whether it intends to or not, I see this product and others like it eating away at the netbook’s market share. In the end, I think the description of this tablet’s features are exactly what people were looking for in a notebook alternative, and not cramped keyboards and questionable build quality. But again, price will make all the difference, and if Apple tries to create a new niche for this product by pricing it out of the netbook market, it could have a hard sell on its hands.