Apple (AAPL) may or may not announce a tablet computer at an event in San Francisco next month; the consensus now is that it’s going to wait until next year. But it seems that either way, this isn’t just a one-off gadget.
It now appears that Apple is working toward an entire line of touchscreen computers — a natural evolution of both its iPod and Mac lines.
BusinessWeek’s Olga Kharif: Richard Doherty, a director at market researcher Envisioneering Group, who says Apple has developed prototypes of two different tablet machines—one that resembles a large-sized iPod and boasts a 6-inch screen, and another that features a larger display. Apple may launch one or both devices as early as September, Doherty says. A decision on whether and when Apple takes the tablet plunge lies with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Doherty says.
… One of Apple’s prototype devices is able to run all Mac applications, and allows for video and audio editing and graphic animation, Doherty says. Another, which looks like a larger iPod, lends itself to watching videos, playing games, and reading e-books.
While we’ve long thought it made sense for Apple to expand its touchscreen lineup, the thing we’ve never been sure about is how Apple would position the device: As a big iPod touch, under $1,000; or as a touchscreen MacBook, closer to $2,000. Now we have a better idea: They’re at least testing both.
Whether one, both, or neither makes it to market in the next year is a different story.
(Also: We’ve never heard of Envisioneering Group before, and we have no idea how Doherty knows so much about the tablets. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume he’s right.)
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