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An Apple tablet is reportedly confirmed and set for a launch in Q1 2010. The tablet is pictured here in an artist's rendition, next to an iPhone for perspective.  (Source: Apple Insider)

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is reportedly devoting most of his time trying to perfect the new device and push his engineers to create the best product possible.  (Source: AP)
Can Apple craft a successful tablet device where others have failed?

When it comes to electronics product design, few executives or managers are as demanding or as uncompromising as Apple CEO Steve Jobs.  While others have played arguably more important roles in the technical or artistic direction of the iPod, iPhone, and unibody MacBooks, it has consistently been Mr. Jobs that has pushed his engineers to cut the devices' weight and footprint, all while packing in top functionality.

Many feared that the iPhone would be his final opus, when he departed the company with a failing liver.  However, less than a year later, Mr. Jobs is back in action, and according to the Wall Street Journal, he has one thing on his mind -- the new Apple tablet.

Last October in an earnings call, Mr. Jobs famously remarked, "We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk."

However, that's exactly what Apple is trying to do, in essence.  They're trying to create a luxury-brand netbook with more power and functionality, that's a small step up from traditional netbooks in price -- similar to its business model in the notebook sector that sees it selling ultralight, long-battery life notebooks for a markup.

Reportedly, Mr. Jobs is acting as a ruthless and relentless captain, demanding long hours, efficiency, and secrecy of his employees.  This comes to a shock to many Apple employees who were beginning to enjoy more freedoms while Mr. Jobs was on leave.  States a source at Apple, "People have had to readjust."

In a brief email Mr. Jobs reportedly contradicted these comments, telling the WSJ, "Much of your information is incorrect."

The new device is reportedly very important to Apple.  With iPod sales slowing, Apple is looking for a new hit to recharge its lineup and keep the so-called "halo effect" going.  The tablet market -- sparked by Microsoft a decade ago, but with currently only 1.4 percent PC marketshare -- seems an ideal place to start.

Reportedly Apple has been working on a tablet for almost a decade now, first filing a patent in 2000.  Mr. Jobs reportedly killed the project twice due to disappointing battery life among other things.  Now, with the iPhone's development lighting the way, it appears Apple is finally set to green light the device.  According to the WSJ, Apple may be pressured to release its tablet at $499 or less, due to the plethora of Windows and Linux netbooks priced in the same range.

Apple's tremendous secrecy makes it hard to determine fact from fantasy, but its clear that something is afoot in Cupertino. 

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first things first...
By DarkElfa on 8/25/2009 9:28:30 AM , Rating: 4
To start, If anyone thinks this thing will be 500 bucks or cheaper needs to check into a clinic. Second, Apple doesn't know how to make a PC that they can sell for 500 dollars that wouldn't be a piece of junk, there's a difference, especially seeing as how they charge on average twice what their hardware is actually worth.

RE: first things first...
By orgy08 on 8/25/2009 10:02:41 AM , Rating: 2
considering the retail price for a 32gb ipod touch is $399, I agree that it won't be priced at $500. Your looking at a minimum retail of $599, but I think $699 is more likely its starting price with an higher end model at $799

RE: first things first...
By invidious on 8/25/2009 1:19:46 PM , Rating: 2
So you will be getting a fancy looking Apple netbook for the cost of a fully functional PC laptop? All Mac hating aside, I don't really see what place this could have in industry. I am sure artists will buy it and apple fans will buy it. But I don't see the mainstream buying this.

It's not like the iPhone where everyone needs phone and for a little bit more you can get a multimedia phone. This is an entirely new product that no one has any uses for in their daily lives. I don't see how Apple is going to convince people they need this product, certainly not if it costs $800.

At $800 this is an expensive gadget / status accessory.
At $500-600 it is an artsy alternative to a low end laptop.
At $400-450 it could be a real competator to netbooks.

RE: first things first...
By orgy08 on 8/25/2009 3:34:14 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, I won't be buying it, I don't own anything Apple, I'm just pointing out the fact that $500 isn't realistic for Apple

RE: first things first...
By TomZ on 8/25/2009 5:16:04 PM , Rating: 2
I think it is realistic if $500 is the sell price to the customer, when AT&T or some other carrier helps subsidize the cost with a couple hundred bucks, based on the purchaser making a lengthy commitment to an expensive data plan.

Jobs understands how to work the business model, whereas others have failed in the past.

RE: first things first...
By BillyBatson on 8/26/2009 5:56:15 AM , Rating: 2
I am not a fan of apple or apple pc's, or steve jobs for that matter, but I do love my iphone more than anything.

I am 27 and will be coming back to school starting next week and I don't plan on buying a laptop but I have been following this tablet for a while and as long as it is $800 or less I plan to buy one. I wouldn't mind typing notes on this in class seeing as the screen will be large enough all while doing everything my iphone does but better/faster (minus calls).

If it is everything an itouch is and much more than yes a lot of people are going to buy it, even apple haters like me. it has nothing to do with a status symbol or a cool factor or marketing or anything else you might come up with to rebut me. Simply if I could stretch my iphone to be larger AND i can type on it? I would. This tablet does exactly that.

RE: first things first...
By StevoLincolnite on 8/25/2009 10:01:50 AM , Rating: 2
The worth and quality of a product comes down to the consumers perspective, personally I think the Mac is a Piece of junk because it doesn't allow me to upgrade it as cheaply and as easily as I can do with a Modern PC, and I cannot stand the Operating System.

Yet someone else might find that the Mac is worth every Penny.

I would love a Tablet, but it has to meet several requirements for me which are:

1) Priced at the level of Netbooks. (around the $500 - $700 Australian mark!).

2) Using an x86 Architecture like the Atom.

3) Doesn't use an Intel Decelerator IGP.

4) Easy internal access to upgrade the Ram and Hard Disk drive.

5) Bright, Clear, High Resolution screen.

A company that does that, has a winner in my eyes. :)

RE: first things first...
By Flunk on 8/25/2009 11:06:32 AM , Rating: 3
Good luck with that, with current prices that's pretty much impossible in that price range. 3. means you need to move to at least the Ion platform, killing your price 4. requires a larger chassis than you would really want. 5. kills your price more. Tablets have digitizers, adding more to the price.

Fairly enough a $1000 is really what you'd be looking at for a decent low-cost tablet. I think HP already sells something in this market but it might not be easily upgraded.

RE: first things first...
By StevoLincolnite on 8/25/2009 11:13:09 AM , Rating: 2
I never stated specifically that it had to be an Atom+Ion Platform, for all I care I would be happy with an underclocked/undervolted Athlon 64 combined with a 785G chipset with a Radeon 4200 in it. (Also uses less power to!)

Or even go the way of the Via Nano and the S3 Chrome chipset. (Still better than an Intel IGP!)

The issue with the Atom is that you are either stuck with:

1) The relatively expensive ION.

2) The Power sucking Intel Decelerator.

But you get more choice if you go AMD, or Via.

RE: first things first...
By Mitch101 on 8/25/2009 3:55:43 PM , Rating: 1
What parts does a tablet have that a laptop doesnt?

Usually a tablet doesn't have a built in DVD drive or keyboard but includes a touch screen and a webcam.

Now why again are these things priced twice as much as their laptop counter parts?

RE: first things first...
By Chudilo on 8/25/2009 11:17:01 AM , Rating: 2
You forgot the following:
6) Replaceable battery requirement.
7) SD memory port.
8) Bluetooth
9) 801.2n WIFI
10)Capacitive multi-touchscreen with full GUI support (not just moving the mouse pointer around like MS did it
11) Front and back webcams(or one that you could twist.

RE: first things first...
By StevoLincolnite on 8/25/2009 11:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
6) Replaceable battery requirement. - Yeah I did forget that!

7) SD memory port. - This doesn't bother me, as long as it has USB.

8) Bluetooth - I don't use any Bluetooth devices.

9) 801.2n WIFI - I would need this though. :)

10)Capacitive multi-touchscreen with full GUI support (not just moving the mouse pointer around like MS did it - Of course. :)

11) Front and back webcams(or one that you could twist. - I'm not a webcam fan, hence this would be an added cost I don't need.

RE: first things first...
By rudy on 8/25/2009 12:03:12 PM , Rating: 3
I dont know if you want a capacitive TC on a tablet then you cant use a stylus, dell has a capacitive tablet and it is not as popular as HP or Lenovos because of this.

RE: first things first...
By Chudilo on 8/25/2009 12:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
The reason they are not popular is because you have to use the stylus to move the cursor around and type and click and so on.
Which renders the touchscreen interface pretty useless.
With an interface similar to the iPhone, this could actually work.
1) If you wanted to click on an on-screen button you would just touch it with your finger. Not move the mouse pointer with your finger and then click.
2) If you wanted to scroll a document you'd Click-and-Drag your finger on the screen, rather then take the stylus and click the scroll buttons around.
3) You can apply the rest of the gestures that apple first implemented in the iPhone.
4) Type with both hands to type. Not touch 1 letter at a time with a stylus.
And so on and so forth.
MS and PC vendors only took the idea half way, because of the lack of interest. The interest wasn't there because they only took it half way. Apple might actually do it right by putting all the missing pieces together all the way through the Hardware and software including OS support because it all comes from the same vendor.

RE: first things first...
By orgy08 on 8/25/2009 12:43:03 PM , Rating: 2
well, typing will still be annoying with only one hand while the other one holds up the tablet. It isn't has small as an iphone, so you cant use just both of your thumbs to type. Only way you can type with both hands has it to put it on a table or your lap while sitting down.

RE: first things first...
By thecoldanddark on 8/25/2009 10:17:35 PM , Rating: 2
Uhh no, have you used a Vista Tablet PC?

1. No you don't. You can set it to a mouse or set it up so that it just clicks, for right click you just hold your finger. On W7 you can double finger tap it.

2. Umm, no again. When scrolling in Vista it uses flick scrolling. In Windows 7 it's inertia based.

3. Windows Vista has basic gesture support fw, back, cp, paste, delete, undo, flick up, flick down, Windows 7 has a few more gestures.

4. In Windows Vista this was a problem, but in Windows 7 it's not an issue.

I own a latitude XT. fyi.

RE: first things first...
By Pirks on 8/25/09, Rating: -1
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 8/25/2009 11:45:00 AM , Rating: 2
Why are they even in this market? Netbooks are for consumers of information (if what is on the web passes for information at all [note this website]) while Apples have always been for high-end information producers. Of course, iPhones/iTouches are for information consumers. Why hybridize? Apple is answering a question nobody asked.

BTW, when I saw this:
Reportedly, Mr. Jobs is acting as a ruthless and relentless captain...
I knew this was one of Jason's provacateur pieces.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook
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