Apple Tablet: It’s Finally (Almost) Here

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Rumor has it that Apple will release a tablet computer in time for this year’s holiday season. The device will be akin to an iPod touch, and a possible competitor to Amazon’s Kindle. Apple Insider has more:

The 10-inch, 3G-enabled tablet, akin to a jumbo iPod touch, is the latest brainchild of chief executive Steve Jobs…Jobs, who’s been overseeing the project from his home, office and hospital beds, has…cemented the device in the company’s 2010 roadmap, where it’s being positioned for a first quarter launch, according to people well-respected by AppleInsider for their striking accuracy in Apple’s internal affairs.

That means that the device, which is expected to retail for somewhere between the cost of a high-end iPhone and Apple’s most affordable Mac notebook, is bound to turn up any time between January and March, should there be no last minute setbacks. Analyst’s following the Cupertino-based company may consider factoring first full-quarter sales of the device into their models for calendar Q2.

eWeek adds that the Financial Times…

…reported Apple is racing to get the tablet to market by the Christmas shopping season and the device will likely have a 10-inch touch-screen interface. Quoting sources “briefed on the project,” the paper reported that Apple will also launch content deals alongside the device, including an attempt to revive the music business through “Project Cocktail,” which FT.com reported will launch in September.

The launch of a tablet is seen by many as an opportunity for Apple to redefine a market niche that has traditionally struggled. It is also seen as an answer to Apple’s lack of a netbook offering. Netbooks, which are smaller, less expensive notebooks, have seen sales rise sharply over the past year as consumers look to less expensive but capable portable computers.

The guys at MacWorld saw this coming for at least two years. Adam Engst, in a January post, sums up the Apple tablet market in no uncertain terms:

Sure, it won’t fit in a pocket, but (a) many people in their 40s and 50s simply can’t see the tiny screens on current devices; (b) there’s a sweet spot between the iPhone and the MacBook Air that’s currently unfilled; (c) Amazon’s Kindle has been sufficiently successful to prove that people want a larger device for reading; and (d) the whole pocket thing is sexist anyway, since women mostly carry purses and don’t have reliable pockets. Oh, and (e), I want one.