Report: Apple to Release Touchscreen Netbook in 2009

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Apple Inc. will be releasing a netbook in 2009, according to a published report. Dow Jones Newswire cited two unnamed sources on the manufacturing side, likely Taiwanese sources, who said the company was developing a touchscreen device with a 9.7"-10" screen for the exploding netbook sub-market of computers.

Reporter Wei Yi Lim said that Taiwan-based Wintek Corp. is developing the display, while Apple's longtime manufacturing partner Quanta would be manufacturing the device. Sources from within these overseas manufacturing operations have long been a major source for leaks on Apple's product plans, though those leaks don't always pan out when everything is said and done.

Dow Jones didn't report any additional details on the device, and said that one of its two sources said specifications and features were still "under evaluation."

Netbooks are small, light (in terms of weight and features), and usually cheap. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in 2008 that, "We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk; our DNA will not let us do that. We've seen great success by focusing on certain segments of the market and not trying to be everything to everybody, and you can expect us to stick with that winning strategy."

During Apple's Q1 conference call In January of 2009, Apple COO Tim Cook said in response to an analyst's question about netbooks, "We're watching that space. Right now from our point of view, the products in there are principally based on hardware that's much less powerful than we think customers want, software technology that is not good, cramped keyboards, small displays, etc."

"We don't think that people are going to be pleased with those type of products," he concluded, but he then hedged with a, "but we'll see. We are watching the space. About 3% of the PC industry last year was in this netbook kind of category. So it's a category we watch."

We should also add that Apple released a video iPod less than a year after Mr. Jobs told shareholders that Apple wouldn't release a video-enabled iPod because, "It's about the music, stupid." The company has long denigrated product niches in which it wasn't competing until the company began to compete in that same market.

The subject of netbooks has been hot and heavy, especially with Wall Street analysts. Netbook sales have exploded, at least in terms of unit sales, and many watchers have called on Apple to release a competing device, demeaned the company for not having already done so, or, in the case of one analyst, actually downgraded the company's stock because Apple had not offered a strategy for releasing a netbook that didn't cannibalize MacBook sales.

Others have predicted that Apple could compete in the space by offering some sort of device based on the iPod touch product line, running the "OS X" that powers iPhones and iPod touches. Steve Jobs said that the iPhone itself was a netbook device, and the idea of the company releasing a touch screen netbook could well fit within this concept.

Time will tell, of course, and though Dow Jones' report is one of the more credible presentations of the Apple-is-going-to-release-a-netbook rumor, we wouldn't advise our readers to hold their breath waiting for it.

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10 Comments Leave Your Own

ppartekim

Isn’t that what the iPod Touch and iPhone really are anyway. I guess they could be classified as mini-netbooks.

Lee Dronick

“Isn?t that what the iPod Touch and iPhone really are anyway. I guess they could be classified as mini-netbooks.”

That is my view. If I am going to carry a netbook, I may was well as carry a MacBook and have more power to do things such as graphics.

Terrin

I very much think Apple will release a larger sized iPod Touch. Apple, however, probably doesn’t view it as a Netbook as much as a new platform.

geoduck

Apple succeeds when they do things their own way. Copying the eeePC would be a mistake but an iPAD/iPOD Touch MAX kind of device would be great.

xmattingly

Yep. If Apple does enter a new product to the market that’s in range of being a “netbook”, it’ll be a new paradigm. I still believe there is room for them to develop something that doesn’t compete at the bottom feeder price range. I’ve mentioned this one before, but sub-notebook with a monitor & touch LCD screen (not unlike a Nintendo DS) would bring them within range of the netbook category without exactly being a netbook. The touch screen would be a keyboard, oversized track pad, and whatever other type of input device/tool Apple would decide to implement at the software level.

azarkon

I think if Apple decided to make a “netbook” that was just an oversized iphone it would be a big mistake.  A key feature that distinguishes netbooks from smartphones is the nearly-full-size keyboard.  Even people married to their crackberries will tell you that the mini keyboards and touchscreen keyboards aren’t useful for more than the firing off of quick e-mails.  greater productivity—be it working on presentations, word docs, or taking notes—requires the familiar keyboard.  Netbooks have similar appeal to the MacBook air—less power, less features, less connectivity, less weight and bulk.  Unlike other $500 systems, people buy netbooks with no expectations that they’re not a piece of crap. If they can do all you need, then their size and weight make them more mobile than even a macbook.  Apple can take a page from Vaio’s P series laptop and create a netbook that is smaller, lighter and better than everyone else’s and justify a premium price.  In fact, what that Vaio is most missing is a great touchscreen.

Nick

Ok, everyone needs to listen, Apple is in fact releasing a whole touch screen computer LINE. I went to City Walk in Orlando for spring break, noticed the BK Whopper Bar Customizable Shirt stand had touch screen iMacs; now me being a computer nerd I looked into it and talked to a sales representative at a stand, he told me that Apple gave every BK

Lounge

across the country got free Macs that are not set to be release to later in 09’. So if you have any sort of mac, I recommend selling it ASAP before the value drops to more than you can believe.

Bryan Chaffin

Not sure if you believe your post or are trying to have some fun, Nick, but I’ll call you on this. smile

Apple is not going to pre-release Macs to anyone outside the company, and really, they’re just not going to give anyone anything. 

There have been third party companies converting various Apple Macs (mostly iMacs) into touch-screen devices since the original Bondi Blue iMac hit the streets. If you saw such devices, I have zero doubt that’s where they came from.

Bryan
Editor
TMO

Nick

To Bryan, I am not trying to “have some fun” and yes I believe my own post because I was there? It was like 2 hours ago?
It looked pretty legit and it did have other features such as the new mini-display port I believe its called and it was even running Snow Leopard. I guess you would have to be there to see it and witness it to believe it but if you live in Orlando like me than you can go look for yourself.

xmattingly

The 3rd party touch screen implementation + low level employee not having his facts straight on where the computer came from would be the most likely scenario.

I’m as enthusiastic as anyone else about Apple’s next wave of offerings, but seriously Nick… Snow Leopard on pre-release Macs in the wild? That Apple gave away?

In any event, I should probably call my brother in San Antonio, who’s pretty high up in the Burger King franchise down there. He would know better than any “sales rep” what’s happening across the chain.

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