RUMOR: Apple to debut tablet-based Multi-Touch™ device for under $700

“With a conventional netbook clearly out of the question, researchers for Piper Jaffray said Thursday there’s mounting evidence to suggest Apple next year will introduce its own take on the market in the form of a tablet-based device that will sell for $700 or less,” Katie Marsal reports for AppleInsider.

“‘Between indications from our component contacts in Asia, recent patents relating to multi-touch sensitivity for more complex computing devices, comments from [chief operating officer] Tim Cook on the April 22nd conference call, and Apple’s acquisition of P.A. Semi along with other recent chip-related hires, it is increasingly clear that Apple is investing more in its mobile computing franchise,’ analyst Gene Munster and his team wrote in lengthy research note to clients,” Marsal reports.

“More specifically, the analyst said these investments will likely culminate with the launch of a touch-screen tablet with a display somewhere between 7- and 10-inches at a special event sometime in the first half of 2010,” Marsal reports. “Such a move, he added, would be consistent with management’s comments that Cupertino-based company has no interest in catering to the existing segment for ‘cheap’ miniaturized notebooks and its spoken desire to differentiate in a market currently dominated by cramped computers with razor thin margins and a subpar user experience.”

“‘The device’s OS could bear a close resemblance to Apple’s iPhone OS and run App Store apps,’ the analyst wrote. ‘Apple could possibly introduce a second screen resolution into the iPhone OS software development kit (SDK), enabling developers to build apps specifically for the larger tablet device,'” Marsal reports. “Alternatively, Munster said Apple may be working on a customized version of Mac OS X for traditional computers that would be optimized for its multi-touch platform. Such an effort would be extensive and time consuming, even if it’s already underway, and therefore the analyst believes it may not be ready for consumption until sometime next year.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This jibes very nicely with what we’ve been hearing since as far back as last July:

Get ready for Newton 2.0 MacBook touch?!

So says our source — the same one who tipped us to wireless iTunes Store sales direct to iPod, iPhone a week before Apple debuted it — in staccato fashion:

“Think MacBook screen, possibly a bit smaller, in glass with iPhone-like, but fuller-featured Multi-Touch. Gesture library. Full Mac OS X. This is why they bought P.A. Semi. Possibly with Immersion’s haptic tech. Slot-loading SuperDrive. Accelerometer. GPS. Pretty expensive to produce initially, but sold at ‘low’ price that will reduce margins. Apple wants to move these babies. And move they will. This is some sick shit. App Store-compatible, able to run Mac apps, too. By October at the latest.”July 22, 2008

And from earlier this year:

To this day our source adamantly insists that it’s coming, regardless of what Apple actually names the shipping units, and adds that the SuperDrive will not be part of the finished devices, “It was just in some of the prototypes for various reason(s).”March 10, 2009

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