Apple Tablet Date Debate

By  |  Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Apple TabletThe Applesphere seems to have stopped debating whether there’s going to be an Apple tablet or not. There even seems to be some consensus about form factor and price range. What’s left to toss around? Release dates. The question seems to boil down to this: Fall/Holiday 2009 or 2010? (As you may recall, we already have had the Financial Times confident it’s September and AppleInsider confident it’s 2010.)

Today, both Gizmodo’s Brian Lam and Jim Dalrymple of The Loop say they’ve talked to insiders. Brian’s insider sort of generally suggests the tablet will arrive this year. Jim’s insider says early 2010. Me, I…have no insiders! So I have to rely on intuition, guesswork, and crude deductive logic. A few thoughts:

–The tablet’s going to be a significant deal–the biggest new Apple product since the iPhone, whether or not it’s a hit. And there’s a lot of related stuff that needs to be addressed, like its impact on developers, and the first apps for it. That’s not ten minutes at the end of a September iPod event–it’s probably an event of its own.

–Apple’s September events are also traditionally music-themed, so I’m instinctively suspicious of rumors involving them featuring a device that isn’t music-centric, as a tablet wouldn’t be. (Although that wouldn’t preclude another September event for the tablet.)

–It doesn’t seem entirely out of the question that the tablet could be announced this year even if it doesn’t go on sale until next year, especially if it has built-in Verizon broadband that would require FCC paperwork that might leak. And Apple’s been known to announce products early when they don’t compete with existing Apple products (both the iPhone and Apple TV were unveiled months before you could buy one).

–On the other hand, it would be extremely odd to announce the tablet before the holiday season when it wouldn’t be available until after it. People might forgo an iPod Touch under the tree to save their pennies.

Conclusions? It’s hard to figure this out without an insider, and even the insiders are at odds with each other! But I just checked with my gut, and it told me that the tablet will most likely be announced and released next year. Gut, if that turns out to be wrong, I blame you.



4 Comments For This Post

  1. Chip Says:

    I think the real confusion here is what is meant by “first quarter of 2010.” That’s an often-used phrase in reference to this thing’s launch.

    While mere mortals think of first quarter as Jan-March, Apple’s business first quarter of 2010 starts October 1.

    Not adding any clarity, just a discussion point.

  2. pond Says:

    The comparison to the iPhone and possible Verizon connection is apt. If I recally aright, the iPhone was first mentioned in September or so, then given a big splash at MacWorld the following January, before its release that summer.

    In the September announcement Steve Jobs said it wasn’t something he liked doing, but since the iPhone had to comply by FCC rules, the secret would leak out anyway, so he was making it official.

    This tablet, if it is in its final or near-final form, and serve as a Verizon gateway, would also need some similar FCC clearance, so it could well be that Apple would announce it at the same time it hits FCC, just as a matter of controlling the spin and the news a bit more.

    There are two big considerations for Apple in releasing such a device (any device, really):

    1. Technical feasibility. Maybe Apple is waiting on the new next-gen PA Semi chip before they can release it, for example.

    2. Commercial viability. Even if all the tech is there, Apple won’t want the thing to not-sell. An $800 playtoy is not necessarily going to sell like mad in this economy … maybe it makes sense waiting 6 months for the forecast recovery … maybe costs will come down in a few months. I’m sure that if Apple doesn’t think the thing will sell, they will not hesitate to kill it, as Steve Jobs admitted he killed the long-rumored Apple PDA/Newton successor. He just didn’t think it would sell. (I guess that project morphed into the iPhone.)

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