When it comes to rumors about the Apple tablet, it's hard goshdarn work trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here's what we find credible or at least, interesting:
1. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has produced sales estimates, a list of some key features and even a rendering (above) of what he thinks the thing will look like. Munster says the device
- will basically be a huge iPod Touch, capable of running App Store apps
- will run about $600
- will be used primarily for Web surfing, e-mail, and digital media, competing with netbooks without being a netbook
- will have some kind of cellular connectivity
2. Kaufman Bros. analysts...
...revealed that Apple has bought screen sizes of 4, 7, 9, 10 and 12 inches over the last two years. Some of the purchases were allegedly of such a large amount that the firm suspects they were for more than a simple sample, but a more significant small production run.
Based on that information, the analysis predicts that Apple will launch at least one -- but possibly multiple -- new devices in the near future.
3. In "Why Apple's Tablet Will Rock," Cult of Mac's Leander Kahney raves about the device with such conviction and fervency that it sounds like the thing will end world hunger. He lists no less than 26 reasons and actually refers to the device as "magical." In terms of drinking the Kool-Aid, Kahney definitely typed that one up with an orange mustache.
What we find most fascinating is Munster's assertion that the tablet will compete with netbooks without being a netbook. That suggests that Apple has basically looked at what people use netbooks for--e-mail, web browsing, media playing--and removed the keyboard, perhaps in hopes that providing those things via touchscreen will generate the "ooh-ahh" factor to set it apart from the competition.
One point we do feel people are missing is that it's not so much about the individual features. What typically sets Apple products apart is partially the physical industrial design, and mostly the "glue" that binds all the features together and enables them to work seamlessly and simply, something that say, Microsoft can't seem to get right.
As a reminder, look to the 1st generation iPod. Small hard drives, small LCD screens, and MP3s had all existed for years; Apple's chief innovation was to figure out how to glue those things together in a way that worked well. Now they seem to be prepping to do the same with touchscreens, App Store apps, and netbook features.