The latest rumor suggests that Apple is building not one, not two, but three tablet computers.
The report comes from Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz, who spoke to a “100 [percent] reliable” source — whatever that means. Apple’s plans for a 10-inch tablet in 2010 have been well-reported, though never officially confirmed, but the source claims to have also seen 13-inch and 15-inch models at a factory in Shenzuen, China.
One of the tablets was even running Mac OS X 10.5, going against rumors that Apple’s tablet will function more like a giant iPhone.
The factory at which these were spotted is not FoxConn, a well-known manufacturer of products from Apple and other major brands, according to Gizmodo’s source. The source didn’t know whether the models were preproduction units or if they were built for demonstration only.
With that in mind, I think it’s highly unlikely that Apple will be releasing any larger, more computer-like tablets, at least not unless the 10-inch tablet proves successful. Right now, there aren’t any products on the market that resemble what Apple is doing. Touch screen computers are available, but ultraportable, keyboard-free tablet remains unproven. A potentially competing product, the Crunchpad, could arrive later this year or next year.
Going all-out with three products is also uncharacteristic of Apple, if you think of the way it segued from the iPod to the iPhone. The company started with the concept of music, then slowly added more features — pictures, video, games — before finally becoming a do-it-all device. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the tablet PC grow in similar fashion, starting as a more powerful version of the iPhone, and then adding more functionality until it resembled a computer, but only if the idea is successful in the first place.
Releasing three tablets in short succession would only confuse customers and kill any buzz for one particular product, and Apple thrives on buzz.