Dell Inspiron Mini 9 running OS X (not a media tablet)

Apple executives have repeatedly denied that the company is working on a netbook. But they’ve also repeatedly dropped hints that they could be working on something that will compete with netbooks. Today’s rumor comes courtesy of Business Week, which reports that Apple is negotiating with Verizon Wireless to carry two devices: A small iPhone-like device for making calls, and a handheld media tablet for interacting with music, photos, and videos.

This rumor is interesting for two reasons. First, Apple currently has an exclusive deal with AT&T to carry the iPhone. That contract won’t run out until next year, but Apple could work on deals with other companies to distribute new wireless devices.


And it would also explain what Apple’s been doing with all of those touch panels the company has supposedly ordered. Business Week says the media pad is smaller than an Amazon Kindle, but has a touchscreen display larger than the Kindle screen. The magazine cites a source who has seen the device, saying that Apple has something really cool on their hands and could control the media pad market — which wouldn’t be hard because that market doesn’t really exist right now.

I’d also be pretty disappointed if this is what Apple thinks it takes to compete in the netbook space. The reason netbooks have succeeded over the past few years is because they let you do 90% of the things you expect to be able to do with a computer without costing an arm and a leg. They’re more functional than the Windows CE handheld PCs of yesteryear, and cheaper than full featured ultraportables that used to cost $1500 or more. If Apple releases a machine made for entertainment and not work (without a keyboard), it might appeal to some people who are frustrated with the small screen on the iPhone and iPod Touch. But I don’t think it will take any market share away from netbooks which can run modern web browsers, office software, and a whole slew of other applications. 

via GottaBeMobile

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10 replies on “Rumor: Apple working on a wireless “media pad””

  1. Hmm… since an iPhone is a great device – expect for the phone – having an tablet might interesting if it is small and truly light enough to carry around. Now if it could load commercial ebooks (e.g., Sony or Amazon), it might be really interesting for travel.

  2. Apple are not ones to make a mistake with product releases. They waited and watched while mobile phone companies did the groundwork integrating MP3 players, GPS and movie playing into their phones. Once they saw what was and wasnt working they seized the opportunity to take the market in the form of the iphone. Nothing innovative as far as phones go.The Nokia N95 was there first just a much nicer pakage.

    I’m sure anything they release intended to compete with netbooks will follow the same model. How many people actualy use their netbooks for anything other than the net? a touch screen keyboard could probably deal with this. Although I must admit I’d miss the form factor of a traditional laptop.

    1. I think the point is there is no wiggle room for them because netbooks are hot with innovation coming quarterly, not yearly. In other words the marketplace is not asleep like for MP3 and cell phones. Apple’s one trick pony is to takes advantage of markets being asleep; when that isn’t happening they can’t move in at all.

  3. All I can say is, I CALLED IT! They ARE making an overgrown iPod Touch, focused more on media than business applications, and will get the price down by bundling data with it. [=^D

    And it doesn’t compete with netbooks at all. But I’m so totally buying one!

    1. If you can use the Apple bluetooth keyboard with it, and it would feature a thread to fit a gorillapod, a 7″ ipod touch might not be such a bad idea. But the resolution will probably be something like 800 * 500. Not much for real work and just enough for SD video. Oh, but it will have a connector, for which you buy a HDMI or component cable, for an arm and a leg, so you can connect it to your HDTV.
      I also predict: no removable media, no removable battery. Mac users find removing things difficult. Apple tells them to not want it.

      1. I’m certain it will be a 10″ device, looking at all the reports of what screens Apple is supposedly buying. But imagine a 10″ touch screen, with a very thin iPod-Touch-like bezel around it. I think Apple could easily make a smaller-than-Kindle device with a 10″ touchscreen.

        With any luck, it will even be HD, though my eyes can hardly tell the difference between HD and SD content on my 40″ HDTV, so that’s for the videophiles out there. I agree that connectors will be limited, and certainly proprietary, coming from Apple.

        A bluetooth keyboard is an interesting idea! I had predicted some kind of keyboard attachment that would let you operate the device clamshell-style. But if the device itself came with any kind of kick-stand (which we would hope), then pulling out a svelte BT keyboard could make this a nice netbook replacement after all!

        The main thing for me is battery life and instant-on. If it can go a true, full day on a charge like an iPhone or iPod Touch, then they’ll really have something. My Eee PC 1000 HE can pull 6-7 hours with my broadband card connected, but even resuming from hibernate takes 15-20 seconds, and you’ve got to “set up” somewhere. It’s also too heavy to comfortably carry in my purse.

        On the other hand, pulling a thin 10″ tablet out of my purse wouldn’t be much more difficult than pulling out my iPhone. If it has decent speed, full-page web browsing, Exchange support, and some kind of document editing/creating capabilities, it would answer all my needs.

  4. I’m thinking other companies will beat Apple to a similar iDevice first. That is the ironic part, people have Apple’s play book now, it is far more likely an established netbook marker will have something that does 85% of what Apple’s device ‘would’ do.

    The netbook market or the sales doesn’t scare Apple, wjhat scares them is someone else coming so close to what Apple was planning to do now.

    The market is upside down for Apple. Small & light weight is not premium anymore, touch screen is out, and even Linux people are making fancy ‘slick’ interfaces. There is no where to hide ‘Apple Tax’ anymore because everything is getting better, slicker, more portable while being cheaper. So Apple is in a weird spot of finding something new. Not pretend new like iPod or iPhone, remember mp3 and cell phones were old tech.

    Apple needs actual new ideas & tech, and I don’t think they have that yet.

  5. Does Apple really think they can compete with companies like iriver on something like a “media pad”? All iriver would need to do is add wireless to one of their players. The ARM camp would love to compete with Apple on a product were people don’t expect much compatability with other hardware too. Interesting times.

  6. You caught my eye with that: “small iPhone like device to make ‘phone calls” bit – –
    Didn’t somebody already build those? I think they call them “cellphones”. 😉
    Just wait – Apple is not yet done – next out of the box will be a:
    “small iMac like device for web browsing”, not to be confused with a “NetBook”.

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