by Tom Kaneshige

Apple’s Mysterious Tablet, Round Two

Opinion
May 22, 20092 mins
Enterprise Applications

Will Apple really sell a $500-$700 touchscreen tablet with a new OS next year?

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster weighed in on the mysterious Apple tablet Thursday. He figures the device will run a third version of Mac OS X that will resemble the iPhone OS. It’ll be another hook into the App Store. 

Given the effort involved in designing a new OS, Munster predicts the Apple tablet won’t ship until the first half of 2010. The price tag? Probably $700 or less, which would be high for a netbook; many industry watches believe an Apple product needs to come in or under the critical $500 netbook price point.

But if Apple plans to run the thing on a new Apple processor that’s reportedly in the works, I’m guessing the tablet might slip to the second half of next year. And if the tablet comes with cell phone capabilities, it’s likely Apple will wait for G4 services to be established, says a reader.

I’m still favoring my earlier blog post about the 10-inch touchscreen being part of an iPhone docking station (or maybe connected to the iPhone via Bluetooth) mainly because it sounds neat. This would reinvent the netbook category, which Apple’s acting CEO Tim Cook denounced during an earnings call last month, at a price point that makes sense.

But an iPhone docking station has many hurdles, too.

The biggest, of course, is getting a small device to support a full OS X version. Then there’s the battery drain and heat from the processing power needed to make the thing work, another reader points out. All of this makes it a difficult design to achieve.

Apple has also let third-party device makers develop iPhone docking stations. It’s unlikely, says the reader, that Apple will get into this market. “It’s not a large hardware profit center,” the reader says.

Web services, though, could be an intriguing way around some of these technical problems, as well as keeping Apple in the services game. Applications running on Apple servers would mitigate the battery and processor limitations of small devices like the iPhone.

Got a different take? Send me an email at tkaneshige@cio.com. Or follow me on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline.