Apple "signs off tablet netbook", says reliable rumour-mill
Hooray for the Chinese. Just when we hadn't carried a chewy Apple rumour for at least several days, The China Times spreads unsubstantiated whisperings of a netbook release for the Autumn:
"Although there are many reports that highlight the new iPhone debut during the last month as well as Steve Jobs’ return, Jobs will not face any new product shortage, at least not for this year. Taiwan’s high-tech supply chain companies said Apple will debut its first netbook in October. Three corporations – Foxconn, Wintek, Dynapack have received direct orders from Apple. Foxconn will be the main manufacture for Apple’s new netbooks, since Foxconn cooperated with Apple on designing and ultimately manufacturing iPhone.
"According to reliable information, Apple will not follow the current market trend (by producing netbooks with screens about 10.2 or 10.1 inches in diagonal length.) Instead, Apple will produce screens with about 9.7 inches in diagonal length. Touch screen will be installed.
"Because Apple will adopt touch screen technology on its netbooks, Apple will not target low-end consumers, avoiding direct competition with Acer and Asus. Apple’s netbook (or a "tablet" as many call it,) will probably be sold at around $800 USD each."
It's all true. Have a read of the original article in The China Times if you don't believe me. It still doesn't seem all that likely, though. All the pleading for a netbook has come from the Apple fanboys so far, but there's the bigger question of whether Apple would really want a product line for the sake of it. Netbook sales are good, though their numbers are still expected to be a drop in the ocean compared to desktop PCs, and even regular-sized laptops (called Notebooks in this research by DisplaySearch) :
Even the pricing throws doubt on the article - at $800, there'd only be a $199 difference between the netbook and the MacBook in the US. That price doesn't make it nearly competitive enough to take a chunk out of the current market, or even suggest it could grow the market to make it worth Apple's while.
It'd be a cool toy and it's nice to dream, but what could an $800 iPhone tablet do that an iPhone or netbook can't? It feels like a step too far, for Apple and the consumer. Christ, I never thought I'd say that.