updated 11:45 am EDT, Mon October 5, 2009
Questions of practicality impede progress
Apple has been working on a rumored tablet computer since at least 2003, claims a group of the company's former workers. Although a final tablet may only be released in early 2010, 2003 is said to have seen the creation of a PowerPC-based prototype, one which would have been impractical for anyone to use. "It couldn't be built," says Joshua Strickland, a former Apple engineer. "The battery life wasn't long enough, the graphics performance was not enough to do anything and the components themselves cost more than $500."
A former executive explains that tablet attempts have also faced the criticism of CEO Steve Jobs, who has repeatedly questioned what use a tablet would have. Several tablet projects are said to have been halted for this reason. Jobs is now believed to be heavily involved in development however, a move which could be inspired by the popularity of the iPhone and iPod touch, which have demonstrated the usefulness of mobile technology. Some reports say the completed tablet will be able run App Store titles, with little to no modification necessary.
Jobs may be further motivated by the success of Windows- and Linux-based netbooks, an area in which Apple is currently unable to compete. A tablet could also supplant devices like the Amazon Kindle, which concentrates primarily on e-books, devoting only minor attention to tasks like web browsing.