Rumours of an Apple tablet have gathered steam this week with an Oppenheimer analyst suggesting the tablet could be released in late March or April next year. Anticipating a boom, Apple's manufacturer is reportedly ready to produce one million units a month for an average price of $1000 each.
"Our checks into Apple's supply chain indicate that the manufacturing cogs for the tablet are creaking into action and should begin to hit a mass market stride in February," wrote Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner.
"The February ramp schedule suggests a late March or April commercial release, since Apple will need to build at least 5-6 weeks of inventory before going live."
Reiner has said that the tablet is expected to have a 10.1-inch multitouch LCD screen that works in a similar way to Apple's iPhone. Sports Illustated have release a video on You Tube (see below), one of many speculations as to what the new device might look like.
Earlier this year technology analyst Rob Enderle of Silicon Valley's Enderle Group said that an Apple tablet computer "could be a segment killer... a Swiss Army knife of products."
"So far there hasn't been a good e-book reader that uses an LCD display...You lose too much resolution. What makes an e-book reader great is that it reads just like paper and it has a long battery life. " At the time Enderle suggested that it was this aspect that saw Apple hold off till the new year, that the technology couldn't be developed in time.
What is perhaps more interesting to publishers, however, is news on Apple's revenue split. Whilst no details have been released yet surrounding deals with newspapers, Reiner writes that Apple has approached book publishers, and offered a 70 per cent cut, without requiring exclusivity. Amazon currently offers book publishers 50 per cent (demanding exclusivity), and newspapers 30 per cent. If the revenue cut increase translates to newspapers, than more publishers might be willing to sign on.
"As innovative as it is, we believe the Kindle has disgruntled the publishing industry (book, newspaper, and magazine) by demanding exclusivity, disallowing advertising, and demanding a wolfish cut of revenue," Reiner wrote. "The tablet is set to change that."
Nevertheless, Reiner's writings remain rumours and many doubt the reliabiliy of his predictions. Jeff Bertolucci writing for PC World has said the $1000 price tag is hard to imagine: " If Reiner's prediction is accurate, the Apple device seems wildly overpriced for the consumer market. With smartphones hovering in the $200 range, e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader priced at $259, netbooks under $400, full-size laptops near $600, and MacBooks starting at a grand, a $1000 Apple tablet would seem an exotic luxury built for the privileged few."
Wired's Charlie Sorrel deemed Reiner's rumour an attempt to boost publicity: "Until it is actually announced by Apple, every week will bring further groping guesses about this tech-unicorn, in increasingly desperate attempts to drum up publicity."
Apple have refused to comment on the speculation.