updated 12:05 am EDT, Thu October 23, 2008
iPhone MacBook hybrid
A search engine company that chose not to reveal its name has claimed to have observed web visits from an unannounced Apple device with a display size in between an iPhone and MacBook, according to the New York Times. If true, the report suggests that the computer maker is closer to producing a mini-notebook computer than it has publicly claimed. The market for the small devices is just beginning to emerge, with most major companies set for product launches timed for holiday shopping.
CEO Steve Jobs has been asked about the possibility of a mini-notebook at the recent MacBook event and the 4Q earnings report. He originally responded that the mini-notebooks represent a "nascent market" and suggested that Apple would wait to see if it survives.
He reiterated the same position during the Q&A after the earnings call, adding that the iPhone is already a great product in the category of small devices with advanced internet capabilities. He did ease back from his position slightly by mentioning that Apple "had some pretty interesting" ideas for products in the segment, although no further details were given.
"Ideas" could mean anything from pub conversation to working prototypes. Apple has admitted to observing the mini-notebook market, and with the number of releases from its competitors, it could be preemptively developing similar products in case the sales turn out to be impressive.
Jobs mentioned in the call that the company has $25 billion in the bank and no debt, which puts it in a position to spend more money on R&D through the economic slump. He brushed aside the inquiries regarding sub $500 computers, saying "we don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that."
The claim doesn't rule out a $700 mini-notebook, however, that would fall in line with Apple's tendency to offer a higher end product in the same category but with a bigger price tag.