• Manufacturers: Apple Tablet in March for $1,000 US

    Computer industry observers have been leaning on their contacts for months trying to divine when (or if) the long-rumored, never-yet-seen Apple tablet might be coming to reality. Now an analyst with ties to the suppliers who would likely be involved says that the wheels are being set in motion for manufacturing to begin in February, with a likely release in March or April.

    Analyst Yair Reiner frequently reports on Apple's plans for the investment bank Oppenheimer. Since he provides advice to people who are moving billions of dollars around, he has a lot of motivation to avoid wild speculation. AppleInsider revealed the contents of a note from Reiner to investors this morning that said his informants in the supply chain in Taiwan and China indicate that “the manufacturing cogs for the [device] are creaking into action” to begin production in February of a device that resembles what Apple-watchers have been predicting for some time. The people Reiner is talking to say that the tablet will have a 10.1-inch multi-touch LCD display and carry a street price of $1,000 US.

    He says that Apple plans to produce as many as one million units per month, which means Apple will want to build up five to six weeks of inventory before announcing the device. This would put the product launch in March or April of 2010. Reiner noted that Apple has been busily promoting the device in the publishing industry, in line with persistent reports that the initial launch of the tablet will focus on its capabilities as an e-book (and e-magazine) reader.

    Contacts in the US tell us Apple is approaching book publishers with a very attractive proposal for distributing their content. Apple will split revenue 30/70 (Apple/publisher); give the same deal to all comers; and not request exclusivity. We believe the typical Kindle/publisher split is 50/50, rising to 30/70 if Kindle is given ebook exclusivity.
    Reiner also asserted that the royalty deals were likely to calm the publishing industry's dissatisfaction with the way that Amazon has handled its distribution arrangements with the Kindle.

    As innovative as it is, we believe the Kindle has disgruntled the publishing industry (book, newspaper, and magazine) by demanding exclusivity, disallowing advertising, and demanding a wolfish cut of revenue. The tablet is set to change that. It should also make ebooks more relevant for education by simplifying functions such as scribbling marginalia.
    "Marginalia" refers to notes in the margins of books, which would potentially make the tablet attractive to students and to colleges. The profit margins on titles in college bookstores is often as high as 30 or 40 percent. If Apple could get a piece of that market, it would provide an enormous new revenue stream.

    Another analyst came forward today with more details on the tablet’s hardware, indicating that the reports of a super-tablet with a high-resolution OLED display were wide of the mark. According to ThinkEquity analyst Vijay Rakesh, the tablet could include 64GB flash and would ship in the March quarter. Rakesh said Apple could build 1 million to 3 million tablets between February and March with 8 million to 10 million for the year 2010. The analyst also agreed with Reiner that the tablet would include a 10.1-inch multi-touch LTPS LCD display and not OLED technology, which some reported could delay production until late 2010 and raise the price over $2,000 US.

    image via SlashGear
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