Apple’s (AAPL) much-talked-about tablet is indeed on its way, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a note today, based on a conversation he had with an Asian component supplier. But it’s not likely to be a big, iPhone-like growth driver for Apple before 2011 — if ever.
Munster — who still thinks the tablet will launch next year, not this year — runs some hypothetical numbers: If Apple can sell 2 million tablets at a $600 average price next year, that would generate $1.2 billion of revenue. Nothing to sneeze at, but just 3% of the revenue he expects Apple to generate in 2010. And probably just enough to make up for Apple’s declining iPod revenue.
That’s fine. That market could eventually grow bigger, especially if wireless carriers subsidise the tablets — and the tablet could eventually become a more important business for Apple.
But for now, it’s smart to think of it as just another iPod or Mac model, in terms of its importance to Apple’s business, and not another iPod or Mac-like segment.
Meanwhile, here’s what Gene thinks the tablet may look like: A big iPhone/iPod touch-like device running a bunch of iPhone and Mac widget-like apps next to each other.
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