Today, a widely circulated report from Taiwan suggests that Apple’s tablet won’t launch until late next year. To now, it was believed that the tablet would launch early next year.
The report could be hogwash — the site that reported it, DigiTimes, has a flaky history. But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that it’s correct. What does it mean?
Any launch time in the next year or so for the Apple tablet is OK. The only people upset by a later launch now — if it’s really true — are gadget nerds and maybe a few executives in Cupertino.
The tablet — and we don’t even really know what it is, but we assume it’s a big iPod touch, or a small MacBook Air with a multi-touch screen — has no intimidating competition yet.
Basically, it’s competing with Kindles and netbooks, and a bunch of other tablets, none of which have gotten any mainstream attention. This is another case — like the iPhone — where Apple has no reason to rush anything out, and should wait until it gets it right.
The company is already going to have a tall task getting mainstream consumers to spend money on this — it’s really a new category of device — and it should wait until it has the best story to tell consumers. (Though this may be a nice reprieve for Michael Arrington’s CrunchPad, which is supposedly real.)
Wall Street has not baked the tablet into its models yet, so there are no financial expectations to disappoint. Analysts probably won’t factor the tablet into their numbers until they know more about what it is, how much it will cost, etc.
Early Street estimates for the tablet are small anyway. In a note today, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster notes, “For purposes of sensitivity, assuming the tablet comes out on September 1, we believe Apple would sell around 650,000 units at a $600 ASP in CY10 and would equate to an increase of about 1% to revenue.” That’s a rounding error. And Munster reminds us that the tablet is not in his model yet.
Bottom line: Like all technology lovers, we can’t wait to get our hands on the tablet. But it’s in Apple’s best interest to do it right, no matter how long it takes. (Assuming it’s in the next year or so.) And no matter how long it takes, it’s not really going to be relevant to Apple’s finances until 2011 or 2012, anyway.
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