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12/28/2007
01:58 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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Is Apple Planning To Launch An Ultra Mobile PC Next Year?

We've been hearing rumors for months that Apple is working on some kind of tablet PC, most likely an ultramobile PC (UMPC) of some kind. One of my colleagues, Mitch Wagner, thinks that Apple has no plans for a tablet. Other industry insiders, like futurist Mark Anderson, think

We've been hearing rumors for months that Apple is working on some kind of tablet PC, most likely an ultramobile PC (UMPC) of some kind. One of my colleagues, Mitch Wagner, thinks that Apple has no plans for a tablet. Other industry insiders, like futurist Mark Anderson, think Apple is about to enter the UMPC market just as this device category hits the tipping point. So which is it?I think Apple plans to launch some kind of new handheld next year. This device is something in addition to the new 3G iPhone and the coming upgrade to the iPod Touch. Will it be something closer to a full-blown ultramobile PC or just a Web tablet, like the Nokia N-Series? I'm not yet sure. But if the blog rumor mill is any indication, the device will look more like a UMPC than a Web tablet.

Here's a look at blog post from Seeking Alpha that details the supposed Apple UMPC device:

Then about a month ago, another source revealed that Apple has shown significant interest in a 5.2″ 800 x 480 pixel touch screen design by Balda, a German company and the current iPhone screen supplier, and Wintek, an Asian component supplier. This second piece of evidence reveals the real purpose of this new device, an ultra mobile device occupying a position between the 3.5″ iPhone and the much rumored 7-10 inch Apple tablet. There was also a previous article I wrote which highlighted Apple's sudden concern for flash memory supplies in 2008, despite industry predictions for next year which emphasize greater production and softer demand. This further confirms that Apple is working on a new device due sometime in 2008 that will put strains on the flash memory supply chain.

If this rumor pans out, the new Apple handheld would be some kind of touch-screen device that is somewhere between the iPhone and the long-awaited 10-inch Apple tablet of lore. Wait, there's more:

This new Apple device, which could be an Ultra Mobile Computer, has not been sighted out and about the Apple campus or even in the area normally designated for testing new Apple products, suggesting that it's still in the software and hardware design period. Once it's physically spotted outside Apple's secretive labs, we may see an actual product release of 6-8 months, closely following other new Apple product introductions.

So this is still purely speculative, but it does look as though Apple is cooking up some kind of new handheld. While this could be the new 3G iPhone, it looks like a larger UMPC-ish handheld. Here is a look at what the device might look like.

What do you think? Is Apple working on a UMPC? And will Steve Jobs announce it at Macworld next month in San Francisco?

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