With MacWorld just a few weeks away, folks are coming out of the woodwork with predictions that Apple will launch a netbook or something very much like it in January. This week’s prediction comes from Technology Business Research analyst Ezra Gottheil. He thinks Apple will release a machine that looks like a netbook (or maybe a tablet-style UMPC), but works a bit more like an iPhone than a netbook. Which is kind of what I’ve been saying for months. Except for one major difference: I’m not at all certain Apple will release an ultraportable computing device. Rather, I think that if the company pushes one out, it will have the following features:
- It’ll cost $599 or more, which would put it near the top of the netbook market in terms of price.
- It will run a stripped down version of OS X, much like the one you find on the iPhone, which would help Apple keep the little computer from eating into sales of the company’s bigger, more expensive computers.
- It will be able to run third party applications, but Apple will control access to those applications, much as it does with the iPhone App Store. After all, if you could just download and install all your favorite apps for OS X, why spend another $500 to pick up a full sized Macbook?
It’s worth nothing that I don’t have any insider information and neither does Gottheil. We could both be totally wrong. Apple might be putting out a rebranded MSI Wind U100 with OS X preloaded for $599 for all we know. Or the company could ignore the netbook space altogether.