Speculation has been high that Apple may be developing a tablet device and that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs himself may be handling the design. Now, according to a report from Apple Insider, those reports have been confirmed and a solid release date has been scheduled for the new device, which harkens back to memories of Apple's much beloved Newton PDA. Apple Insider cites sources close to Apple as saying that the tablet has been added to Apple's internal roadmap by Mr. Jobs and that a Q1 2010 release is planned. The new tablet will measure approximately 10 inches and will feature 3G connectivity.
The product has been in the works since September of 2007, but reportedly never received the official go-ahead, instead being reset and re-envisioned several times. The device is expected to retail for somewhere between the high end iPhone's price and the intro price for a MacBook -- with a likely price point seemingly being $799.
People familiar with the device say Apple is in active talks over a contract with Verizon Wireless to provide wireless services for the device. The tablet will likely use system-on-a-chip processors designed by Apple itself, with the help of its acquired assets from defunct P.A. Semiconductor.
Apple had explored using Atom processors with the device and the iPhone, but it reportedly was unhappy with their power consumption, so it designed its own ARM-based processors, which are found in the iPhone currently. The move led to Intel vice president of mobility Shane Wall and Pankaj Kedia, the chipmaker's ultra-mobility ecosystems director attacking Apple during a trade show. Intel's senior vice president Anand Chandrasekher hurriedly issued a correction to his junior executive’s comments.
The new tablet may lure buyers looking for the form factor and battery life of a netbook, but are willing to spend a bit more than the average netbook in exchange for greater functionality. While it may in essence be a premium netbook of sorts, Apple insists on not billing it as such.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs once famously dismissed the netbook market commenting, "We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk."