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Mac Tablet

March 14th, 2009

On the close flip-side of the FUD story is that of new product rumors. While market manipulators create false rumors for profit, a lot of Mac fanatics out there spread rumors which may or may not be false based upon pure enthusiasm. And recent reports of Apple ordering lots of ten-inch touch screens for later this year (now backed up by some high-level news sources) follow up on years of rumors that Apple has been developing a tablet computer. We saw a similar pattern with the iPhone–years of rumors that Apple was developing a phone, official denials of same, then orders by Apple for parts pretty clearly intended for such a product, then the product being announced. There’s no guarantee that the last phase will come to pass, but we have now seen all the prior stages, so there’s a good chance that something is there.

The question is, what would the product cost? Some are speculating that this is Apple’s entry into the “Netbook” market, but with Apple charging an effective $400 or $500 for the iPhone, I kind of doubt that a 10“ touchscreen would come in at netbook prices. If Apple follows its past patterns, it will release an ultra-cool device at premium prices. In the current economy, maybe Apple will change that strategy–the iMac, after all, is now very competitively priced–but somehow, I doubt we’ll be seeing a $500 Mac Touch Tablet.

One thing such a computer would bring is true multi-touch; Apple holds a lot of patents on this, and would be foolish to pass up profiting from it, so long as they can make it work really well. We’ve seen pop-up semi-transparent keyboards and how they might work. There is talk about handwriting recognition, but I doubt that more–Apple is opposed to using a stylus, it seems, and the virtual keyboard just seems to make more sense.

Here are a few mock-ups of a Mac tablet that have been making the rounds:

That last one seems inordinately contrived–taking a Leopard screen and adding iPod/iPhone elements. The keyboard would never be so limited and the virtual scroll wheel would be useless. Likely none of these will be spot-on or even very close, but they do give you an idea of what a 10-inch touchscreen would look like with a bit of Apple styling applied.

We’ll have to see if this even comes to pass at all–who knows, the 10-inch touch screen could be for something we haven’t even thought of yet.

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