Apple (s aapl) is all set to begin production of a 10.1-inch LCD tablet starting in February 2010, according to a recent analyst note by Oppenheimer’s Yair Reiner. Following that, the device should then go on sale in March or April, Reiner says, with an initial production run of around 1 million units.
Reiner isn’t working off of leaked or inside information, but his predictions are based on industry supply checks, which means he’s making an educated guest based upon Apple’s activity with its overseas suppliers of late. That’s not the only source of rumor fodder, either.
As reported by AppleInsider, Reiner notes that additional support for the upcoming tablet comes from contacts involved in the U.S. publishing industry:
Contacts in the U.S. tell us Apple is approaching book publishers with a very attractive proposal for distributing their content. Apple will split revenue 30/70 (Apple/publisher); give the same deal to all comers; and not request exclusivity. We believe the typical Kindle split is 50/50, rising to 30/70 if Kindle is given e-book exclusivity.
The deal would then be more attractive than Amazon’s (s amzn), if the estimates about Kindle revenue-splitting are correct, and Apple wouldn’t insist on release exclusivity in order to provide the 30/70 split. If Apple curries the favor of the publishing industry, and offers a more versatile reading platform, the e-book market could be in for the fight of its life come March or April.
Note that Reiner doesn’t see an OLED panel going into the production tablet, as has been predicted elsewhere. Instead, he says the device will use the same kind of LTPS LCD multi-touch display found on the iPhone, only this one will be 10.1 inches. Estimated retail price for the Apple tablet is around $1,000, according to Reiner.
Compare that with the recently unveiled JooJoo tablet (neé CrunchPad). Fusion Garage is offering its device for $500, and you get a good quality 12.1-inch touchscreen display capable of handling HD video. It would seem to undercut Apple significantly, except when you consider that the Apple tablet will likely be much more than just a web-browsing device.
If the Apple tablet resembles a computer more than a glorified, oversized media player, I think a price tag around $1,000 is fully justified. If I got decent on-device storage, a great on-screen keyboard, and lots of productivity apps, as well as wireless connectivity and e-reader type features, I’d be happy to pay more than I would for a bare-bones net tablet. I think OS choice will be key to this device’s success, but Reiner makes no mention of whether it’ll be designed to run iPhone OS or full-blown OS X.