The blog is reporting that Apple has plans to launch a 10-inch, 3G-enabled tablet, kind of an oversized iPod Touch, if you will. Because it would be 3G-enabled, there's also growing speculation that Apple is tapping Verizon to be the carrier partner. Remember: the exclusivity agreement between Apple and AT&T only applies to the iPhone. (see update below)
Of course, none of this has been confirmed by Apple. Still, AppleInsider doesn't just attribute the information to a source but rather, in a WSJesque way, cites "people well-respected by AppleInsider for their striking accuracy in Apple's internal affairs."
What's most striking about this rumor is that it also includes information about the Steve Jobs Seal of Approval, which doesn't come easy around Cupertino. The back-to-work CEO has reportedly signed off on the device and "cemented" it into plans for a Q1 launch next year.
With all of that said - and recognizing that no one is officially commenting about the device or fielding on-the-record questions - I offer the following thoughts to ponder, based on what I've read in other postings today.
- The price becomes an issue because it would have to be cheaper than the lowest-priced laptop in the lineup ($999) but likely would be more than than $500. Anything less than that would put it on the comparison charts against the netbooks, which COO Tim Cook has called "junky." At the same time, with a wireless carriers involved, subsidies will likely drive down the price even more.
- Is it a oversized mobile device or a small-sized laptop computer? Well, that could depend on 1) whether it's powered by Mac OS X or the iPhone OS and 2) the type of chip it has inside. The AppleInsider post has some good historical insight into the issue over the chip choice (in the latter half of the post.)
- I wonder what this means for the Crunchpad, the tablet device that's the love interest of TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington these days. That device, a 16mm thick tablet with a 12-inch screen, is expected to retail for about $300 and will be available "as soon as possible." A post on CrunchGear this week, reporting on rumors of Verizon powering an Apple tablet, ends with blogger Peter Ha writing, "We (as in Michael and CrunchPad Inc.) better get on their horse and get the CrunchPad out."
I would tell you that we'll be waiting for the official confirmation from Apple - but I would also caution you to not hold your breath for that one. Knowing Apple, the official confirmation will come from the stage of a special event where the company will announce that the device is already in stores.
updated: TechCrunch, citing unnamed sources, reports that Verizon is fast-forwarding its launch of its 4G LTE service to reach markets by Q1 of 2010, instead of the second half of the year. No one is tying it to a device for Apple but TechCrunch's source also noted that "there was talk of at least one non-dongle (wireless card) product that this LTE launch was being specifically geared towards."
Previous coverage: Apple's future: It's in the Touch