Rumours that Apple will release a tablet laptop device with a touchscreen have been fuelled by a US analyst suggesting the device will be released in early 2010.
In a note to clients, Gene Munster an analyst from underwriting firm, Piper Jaffray, predicted the device will cost between $US500 and $US700 and come with a screen measuring about 25 centimetres. The price point would create a bridge between the $US400 iPod and the $US1000 Macbook.
The report was based on Apple patents, industry sources, acquisitions of chip manufacturers and comments from Apple executives, with analyst reporting that “It is increasingly clear that Apple is investing more in its mobile computing franchise”.
Meanwhile, BusinessWeek reported that it has confirmed prospective launch dates and detailed plans for the device.
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Both sets of rumours have said Apple will stay clear of the typical netbook model, opting for a device that will set itself apart from the rest of the market.
“Apple will likely leverage its multi-touch patents to differentiate its product from the typical netbook,” Munster said in a statement.
“We are anticipating a new category of Apple products with an operating system more robust than the iPhone’s but optimised for multi-touch, unlike Mac OS X.”
Munster claimed that the device will contain “more dramatic differentiation that the Street is expecting.”
The tablet device, which is also rumoured to be a response to the Amazon Kindle e-reader, is rumoured to include GPS capability and applications that rely on a user’s location.
The report comes after Apple acting chief executive Tim Cook dismissed the idea of netbooks earlier this year, saying that the company would not release products that sacrifice quality for lower prices.
The company would likely target the new device towards price-conscious consumers shopping for a netbook product, but are concerned about manufacturing quality.
Manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba have launched tablet-like devices, but they have failed to capture broad commercial market support and are now popular in niche industries.
Details of the device may be revealed at Apple’s upcoming World Wide Developer’s Conference, which is also rumoured to launch new models of the popular iPhone device.