updated 09:15 am EST, Wed December 31, 2008
Rumored large iPod touch
Amid the speculation of a possible Apple netbook, rumors suggest that the company may be working on a large form-factor iPod touch that features a seven to nine inch screen, according to TechCrunch. Three separate sources have allegedly corroborated the story, including one that claims to have handled a prototype and suggested that Apple is in the process of communicating with Asian OEMs to work out details for large-scale manufacture. If true, the anticipated production time-frame could lead to a release sometime late in 2009.
The device would fall more into the category of a touch tablet than a netbook. Rumors of similar Apple devices have circulated occasionally for a while, although the sources indicated that the company had been uncertain about positive reception by consumers. The iTunes app store success supposedly reinforced the concept, with its library of touchscreen-oriented applications that have achieved distribution numbers pushing into the hundreds of millions.
Even if the report of prototyping and OEM talks is true, there is still a possibility that the device is one of several possibilities that are under consideration. Steve Jobs commented in an October conference call that he considered the iPhone to be an entrant to the netbook category. "But we'll wait and see how that nascent category evolves and we've got some pretty interesting ideas if it does evolve," he added.
Apple filings to the US Patent and Trademark Office indicate that the company has been working on new touchscreen swipe-gestures that would reduce the need for excessive tapping while using the virtual keyboard. Additional notes explain that the technology could be used for PDAs, tablets and desktop systems in addition to the iPhone and Touch, although the company currently limits the use of touchscreen keyboards to the handheld devices.