More rumors about an Apple Tablet-like device


Those Apple Tablet rumors just won’t go away. Yesterday AppleInsider revives talk of a larger iPhone multi-touch device:

“Intel has been in the running to assert its Atom processors at heart of a larger iPhone-like Multi-Touch internet tablet that’s also under development at the Cupertino-based electronics maker, and was at one time believed to have sealed the deal.”

Well, if this device is based on an Atom processor, then it’s obvious why we haven’t seen anything from Apple yet: The MID-focused Atom processor isn’t shipping. So far Intel is only shipping or soon to be shipping in quantity the Diamondville version of the Atom processor, which is targetted to inexpensive notebooks rather than mobile Internet devices. The other version of the Atom processor/chipset which we believe is more geared towards MIDs and the like isn’t shipping yet and even at Computex no one seems to be saying when the Atom-based MIDs will be available.

Intel’s Sean Maloney suggests that with MIDs “there’s much more experimental design,” which is I guess part of an excuse why MIDs are taking longer to hit the shelf–like any Apple MID itself. Interestingly, Maloney continues, “By the end of this year, you will have seen a whole bunch of new MIDs coming out and we’ll see which ones are hits.” So whereas MIDs were originally thought to be on slate for a June launch, it sounds like things are still not ready.

It could be because of the designs themselves or maybe it’s because of Intel’s lagging supply of the Atom processors used in these devices. It makes sense that if there are no chips and Apple is going to use these chips in a forthcoming Tablet-like device, that Apple can’t release anything yet either. Or maybe in deference to Apple as it continues to work out its design issues, maybe Intel is holding back until Apple is ready. That would be odd, but I guess it wouldn’t be impossible to imagine. If true, then that would make Steve Jobs’ recent comments on the next version of OS X (which presumably would be the big brother to an embedded version running in a touch Tablet) a misdirection in that he says, “We’re going to hit the pause button on new features” and work on parallelism and “foundational issues”. It doesn’t take much to imagine that an Apple Tablet is going to need new features tuned to it. So if the Apple Tablet uses an embedded version of the OS, and the OS is on pause for adding new features, then my guess is the Apple Tablet is on pause too in terms of software. Then again, maybe the embedded OS has branched off from Snow Leopard. That would be odd, especially if handwriting recognition improvements are involved in any way–and those are currently aging and in the existing OS. So if they’re fixed for an iPhone and Tablet, they’d be put in the main OS X too. This is all conjecture. Complete guessing. Who knows.

Anyway, if Apple is going to use the Atom family in a Tablet/PDC/iPhone+, then we’re talking at least about later this summer for a launch–if there is a launch. It’s making sense why we didn’t see anything at the WWDC. Then again, maybe we didn’t see anything at WWDC and we won’t see anything later this summer or year, because the Apple Tablet is still an R&D effort and nothing more. Ah, the rumors.