Apple's Jobs Focused On Tablet

The tech icon is involved in the smallest details of the Apple tablet PC, aiming to make it the company's next market-redefining product.
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is reportedly directing nearly all his attention to the highly anticipated tablet PC that has long been the center of speculation among tech enthusiasts on the Web.

The Apple co-founder, who returned to work in June after undergoing a liver transplant, is involved in even the smallest details of the new product, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Under particularly close scrutiny are employees involved in the product's advertising and marketing strategy.

The tech icon has been heavily involved in other Apple products that have redefined markets, including the iPod portable music player and the iPhone. Both products have been hugely successful for Apple.

Jobs' reported hands-on approach to the tablet PC comes only a few months after undergoing the liver transplant that many industry watchers believe was related to a 2004 bout with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Jobs confirmed in June receiving the operation while on a six-month medical leave that started in January. When he announced the leave, Jobs, who was noticeably losing weight, said he was suffering from a "hormone imbalance."

Apple needs a successful new product to make up for slowing iPod sales. While the player has been a major contributor to Apple's resurgence as a consumer electronics maker, iPod sales today are more reflective of a mature market that's unlikely to see huge growth rates.

Tablet PCs, which have been around in one form or another for about 20 years, have yet to achieve big success among consumers. Microsoft led the last major push into the market in 2003, but failed to generate much mainstream interest.

According to previous media reports, Apple's tablet would have a 10-inch diagonal touch screen and many of the same capabilities of the iPod Touch. However, the larger device would offer a better entertainment experience, particularly with video.

Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster estimates that Apple could sell $1.2 billion worth of tablet PCs the first year the device is available, which could be by early 2010, according to some reports.

As a matter of company policy, Apple doesn't discuss future products.

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