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Rumor: Apple to Launch $800 Multi-Touch iNetbooks in October?

MacRumors is reporting that, according to sources at InfoTimes, Apple is set to release a a 9.7 inch, (multi?)-touch Wintek screen netbook this October:

Because Apple will adopt touch screen technology on its netbooks, Apple will not target low-end consumers, avoiding direct competition with Acer, Asus, as well as their less-than-500-dollars netbooks. Apple’s netbook (or a "tablet" as many call it,) will probably be sold at around $800 USD each.

Does this mean a new line of MacBooks now that the 13" has gone Pro? And what does this mean for the long-rumored large iPod/tablet form factor?

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

46 Comments
  • I can already feel my lap burning while I'm on the toilet!!
  • Note to self: Never touch Dmy's netbook.
  • That itablet looks soo cool
  • ^^Lmao
    sounds good tho. I know I'd like to have one!
  • There is more speculation at this site, including a lower price estimate and the usual assortment of mockup images.http://www.idealog.us/2009/07/apple-mac-tablet-predictions.html
  • For the life of me, I cannot envision the person who would find something like this useful. Don't get me wrong, this mockup look really really cool but I can't see this thing getting off the ground. For power users, this will not replace a macbook pro. For on the go mobile email and web checking, the iPhone takes care of that and you are not going to whip something like this out on the bus or train. Even for students, I don't see this as being useful, no one is going to start typing out long research papers on something like this. No one would even probably want to take class notes on a touch keyboard. Someone please describe to me the person who would find this useful enough to drop $800!
  • @ Al
    I think it's supposed to compete with netbooks but not replace mac book pros. While it is almost double the price of some netbooks, it has the touch screen and plus it is Apple, you always pay more for same parts.
  • I would love to have one. I envision it to have a little stand. Wirelessly you should be able to connect to a keyboard and full size display or television. So if need be it would replace a mac mini at home or with just the keyboard you could comfortably type up notes in class. It would work like an Amazon kindle but also access free library content. Perfect size to watch movies on the go and comfortable on the couch and night when my kids are asleep to read the newspaper or pay my bills. You can create amazing art through the touch screen and manipulate photos in ways you never imagined. And there are so many more ideas one could have...
  • Reasons why this won't happen:
    osx is too bloated
    market is saturated
    800 is too high
    apple won't do it
  • LoL here comes truth again...
    /grabs popcorn
  • @3girls - Really? You think a student is going to pack a stand, keyboard, and tablet in their bag and set all this up when they get to class. This is also assuming Apple comes out with a stand and keyboard support. I'll take the simple open and close action of my macbook pro instead, which has a 15" screen, full keys and the horsepower to run final cut pro and cs4. When are you going to be sitting on a couch that is not already in front of a TV to watch movies, etc. and what's the use of spending $800 just to hook it up to your TV anyway. This isn't a personal attack I just don't see the use of something like this. In my view this eliminates the pros of the iPhone and a laptop. By that I mean, this removes the portability of the iPhone because it is 10" diagonal and the computer power of a macbook pro which are the main reasons those devices exist.
  • In typical Apple fashion, these will be priced just above the price point of the competition. Will they sell? Yes, because they're Apple. What I'd really like to see is an iPhone without the phone; an option to pay for just the data package for on-demand connectivity without a monthly voice plan. Something like that would serve many of my portable needs.
  • @Al- My girlfriend currently uses a touchscreen laptop for taking class notes. In fact when she was looking to replace her old touchscreen last year I recommended a mac and she said that she was specifically looking for another touchscreen because it was a lot easier to take notes on. In her chemistry classes it comes in handy to draw the chemical structures and diagrams directly into her notes instead of referencing a particular diagram in a book and then having to look it up. And who's to say that this tablet won't have a keyboard with it? The depicted prototype could just be of the computer when the screen is folded over the keyboard.
  • @Matt - I can see how that would be useful, I've found it difficult to take notes on a computer in math and science classes but that still seems like an extremely narrow market. To each their own I suppose, I know that the iPhone opened up the smartphone market to millions of people so perhaps some kind of touch interface can make the computing OSX market more accessible for people.
  • If the tablet were as thin and light as some of the mock-ups show (or even twice that thick), and If it is bundled with a good fast handwriting entry app as many speculate and if it includes WIFI AND 3G/4G, then you can expect Apple to score another major market changing coup.
    In addition to students who can silently take notes with a handwriting interface (not lecture hall full of clikitty clack) think of the thousands of places you could deploy this sort of device in the corporate world:
    Car Dealerships/Service centers
    Hospital Staff/Doctors
    Warehouse inventory management
    Corporate campuses everywhere
    News Reporters
    Cop cars
    The screen is big enough to project a virtual keyboard you can actually TYPE on with something besides your thumb.
    Really, @AL if you envision a market for a tablet device this size and power you need to broaden your imagination, and stop thinking of portable computing devices being bounded by the iphone on one side and the laptop on the other. There is plenty of room in the middle.
  • Not to dominate the conversation but is there anyone who thinks some kind of finger handwriting recognition typing solution would be fast at all? A touch keyboard, though you could use eight fingers as on a physical keyboard would require you to look down at it all of the time, which would frustrate experienced typists. That's hardly a good trade off to reduce key clicking sounds. I love the iPhone virtual keys but I wouldn't want my computer to have one.
  • I wonder if it will incorporate a pen, for signatures, as a Real Estate Agent that will be awesome for closing deals and going paperless.
  • Who said anything about finger writing?
    Most of these tablet devices come with a stylus.
    I've written with one of those stylus tablets and it was very very good. It could make almost perfect sense of my chicken scratch and you can write as fast as you can scribble because it would simply save everything you didn't correct immediately so you could go back over it later. It would even learn your shorthand so you didn't have to type long phrases over and over. Instead of typing "Smith, Johnson, Waker and Associates" it would learn that when you stylesed smit___ you always later corrected it to the whole Company name.
  • @AL:
    A touch keyboard, though you could use eight fingers as on a physical keyboard would require you to look down at it all of the time, which would frustrate experienced typists.
    You forgot about Hepatic Feedback? It was reported here:http://www.theiphoneblog.com/2009/07/02/iphone-patent-watch-haptics-biom...
  • I just don't see the real point of this tablet. Maybe I'm missing it. Would anyone with an iPhone buy this, what would they use it for? On top of that, iPhone owners also own a computer and many of those a laptop.
    I just don't see who is going to buy this or what they would do with it that you can't already do on your iPhone and laptop. $800 for a note taking tablet or something like that is pretty steep.
    Everyone saying it's great for going paperless, get with it. When you buy something like a house or car expect to be signing paper documents for a long time. Those have to go to government records, and the feds require multiple copies of everything and will for a long time.
  • @icebike
    The problem is most people can type much faster than they write. I honestly don't care too much for my writing (although I am a fantastic drawer) and I think typing is much faster, easier, and doesn't require me to look at what I am writing.
  • Exactly, I can type over 60 WPM and I can probably write at a sixth of that. Haptic feedback might tell you when you hit a key but it's not the same as being able to feel those little bumps on the "f" and "j" keys. It would almost need a slightly raised grid on the glass itself that the soft keyboard would slide into for people to be able to feel their typing. That kind of system would detract from the screen though when the keys slid away. So far all of the ideas for using this that I've seen on this page have been niche business usages (real estate closings, student use in scientific setting). Apple doesn't tend to try for those markets. I'm still not feeling a need for an in between device for the iPhone and a notebook computer.
  • @Sting7K:
    The world is made up of more than JUST iphone owners.
    Car Dealerships
    Service Personnel (Fleet, Aircraft, Appliance Service, Cable Guy, (anyone in the field with a central database to access).
    Hospital Staff/Doctors (its STILL true that doctors hate keyboards).
    Warehouse, inventory management, Stock pickers,
    Corporate campuses, board rooms, Court Rooms,
    News Reporters
    Real estate Agents.
    Sales, especially if customer signatures are required
    Add the ability to write custom applications and the sky is the limit. Yes there are other Netbooks on the market, but most don't focus on touch screens.
    Don't assume all Apple customers fit your mold.
  • @Al
    Hepatic feed back can BE the little bumps. It can BE the feel of the keytops.
    Too much "In the Box" thinking going on here.
  • @ icebike
    no you just think you're beyond your box. Current haptic/pen input is not better than a traditional keyboard, sorry.
  • Suppose it had built-in iChat and ran iPhone apps (including games). Suppose it also had GPS and a suite of iLife/ iWork-type apps and a battery life of 8+ hours and support for Bluetooth keyboards, etc. What if it had no need for a huge hard drive, flash drive or backup drive but Apple offered lots of MobileMe cloud storage. Then what might you say?
  • Truth is right. This is speculation. Apple won't do this... doesn't make any sense. If anything AT&T will release a data only iPhone plan. This makes more sense. Price point too great and not a big enough market, especially competing with iPhone and MacBooks. Doesn't make sense...
  • @Jafish:
    So Apple won't do this you say.
    Because Truth says they won't. (Great source!!).
    So, what does Apple intend to do with all the 10 inch screens it ordered?
    http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSTRE52A0RH20090311
  • @icebike, Doctors maybe as they like fancy things. But court rooms (being government entities) aren't going paperless anytime soon, and most already have computers. Maybe the balif will carry one as he calls out the docket numbers? And the rest of those I still don't see it, when all those people could do the same things with an iPhone or iPod touch that fits in their pocket.
  • I was about to buy a MacBook pro 15 inch but now since I saw this I'm so saving my money in my iPhone Box.. Yhe iPhone box is my bank.. I can't wait I think this is true.....yay yay COOOOOOL... apple is the best....
  • Oh and those this picture mean u could use your iPhone as a keybord if u want..
  • @goodguesser
    tablets have come and gone and while an iChat cloud computing tablet would be a cool idea it wouldn't be all that great
    because we still haven't come up with a better way to type without sacrificing feedback or typing speed. Pen input is slow and a touchscreen that vibrates isn't going to cut it. Surepress2 offers a unique idea as pressing down and into the device feels more natural but the problem is that it requires you to press the entire screen. Of the tech existed I'd create a sort of semisolid screen capable of rearrange according to an electrical charge. You could press directly into the screen and it would simulate the intimate contact between keys and your fingers.
    Anyway the closest we will get to an itablet is the future iPhones which may one day be our universal remotes and our portable iChat devices. Idk o just think current tech inst there yet with portable input.
  • @Al
    I am a mobile DJ, personally I would love to see this come to life, one of my DJ programs that I use is currently available for the Mac and the touch screen would be a great asset to the computer. So many times have I wanted to be able to just lay a couple fingers on the screen to start a song, drop and drag another song while creating a loop at the same time. Being able to touch the screen instead of going from the mouse/touch pad to the keyboard multiple times make my life harder. Granted that there are MIDI controls out there, I like to bring as little to a show as possible to keep my booth a little less cluttered (also save my back a little, my speakers are heavy enough). Now I do have to agree with you, the touch screen is going to be for a smaller niche of the market, but to the few of us who could benefit from this, I think it would be a great idea. I would love to ditch my PC laptop for a Mac, and this is what would make me do so.
  • Why is everyone stuck on this being a tablet? The rumors talk about a touch screen, netbook style computer. Not a tablet.
  • Ok so now we have DJing usages, real estate closings and an implementation for the science classroom. Man, I hope Apple just works harder on iPhone 3.1 instead of this. I'm all for tech companies thinking outside the box, taking chances are what drive the industry forward. However, an entire forum full of people can't think of very many compelling usages of a piece of hardware like this that would be useful to more than .001% of the population.
  • @J-California - I've got a 15" Unibody MacBook Pro, you won't be sorry if you get one of them. This is the best piece of hardware I've ever purchased.
  • I'd buy a tablet, as long as it has 120gb or more hard drive. I wouldn't bother with a 10" netbook though, the 13" screen is a good compact size.
  • @icebike: "hepatic" feedback? It connects straight to your liver? Sounds painful... lol
  • I would DEF buy one. I have been looking for a product that has the form factor of a netbook but is cool like macbook air and less than the million bucks it costs to get a MBA.
    This is not a tablet but multi-touch netbook and there is no definitive answer as to keyboard or lack thereof. the 13" macbook is probably on its way out - hence the new 13: macbook pro, and so this will take its place at a slightly better price point. Apple will actually increase its margins with this device replacing the 13" macbook and driving more people who want laptop functionality to the higher priced MBP line
  • Matty... go to Macrumors and look up all Apples Patents... they are all to do with Tablet form factors, not Laptops...
  • Check this out!http://eshop.macsales.com/CustomizedPages/modbook/modbookcustomize.cfm?system=18b156bd-86d3-4679-8dd0-f2b942480fdc
    it already exists! Just not manufactured by apple and the specs far surpass any discussed here.
  • Sorry try thishttp://www.axiotron.com/index.php?id=modbook
  • An insider would tell you, were it not for non- disclosure discipline imposed by Apple, that any tablet with a multi-touch interface would rip right to the top of the "netbook" market but at a higher price-point, reflecting Apple's insistance on controling the hardware-software integration and quality that meets and usually exceeds the higher expectations of Mac-anything users.
  • I was planning on getting a 13 inch MacBook pro but I'll wait until October to see what happens. Also , new iPod touches will come of too. I can't wait.
  • My two cents.
    Look at Apple's trends. They have been incorperating multitouch into the laptops. The batteries are becomming smaller and longer lasting. OS X 10.6 has been shrunk. They are moving to SSDs (drives). And Apple has been refining "inkwell" in the last revs. Apple is even looking onto incorperating 3g into their laptops along with GPS.
    Look at the existing laptops. Thinner and thinner. Take away the mechanics of the lid/monitor, remove the keyboard and flip the monitor over. MacBook Touch.
    As long as it has a full version of Mac OS X anyone with a laptop would use one. Try to open a laptop on a flight lately? You can't open the lid to see the screen. Let alone type. A tablet Mac is the next logical evoloution. That said, on screen keyboards and handwriting recog. Is a must. Apple knows this already. Look at the first and last Newtons.
    Sign me up, I'll take two today.
  • Amazing! Apple Mac Book has already been very popular and now this technology is certainly going to rock the world.This is not only hi-tech but it is looking beautiful.
    There are more features and articles on here:
    http://www.touchuserguide.com