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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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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.

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