One particularly intriguing aspect of the current rumor-stream about Apple’s tablet plans is the suggestion that, if the product exists, it might be offered on a subsidized basis from a phone carrier like verizon or AT&T. Apple’s upcoming tablet device is a hot topic of rumors.
Apple’s rumored tablet computer will be like a big iPod Touch, cost between $500 and $700, will probably include 3G and be subsidized by a carrier like AT&T or Verizon, and could sell as many as two million units next year.
That’s the scenario painted Friday by Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster. In a report to clients, he wrote that his company has spoken last week “with an Asian component supplier that has received orders from Apple for a touch-screen device” scheduled for delivery in late 2009.
Continuation of iPod?
The rumor mill, which has also been joined by Barron’s and other mainstream publications, contends that Apple’s tablet will feature a 10-inch touchscreen, have WiFi in addition to 3G, and feature a customized ARM processor.
According to Munster’s numbers, if Apple does sell two million tablets at about $600, that’s about $1.2 billion in revenue. Although that could mean as much as 3 percent of Apple’s total revenue, some industry observers are looking at a possible tablet product as a continuation of the iPod product line, not as a new product category.
While possibly not enough to constitute a full product category, there is one other tablet-based product that has also been garnering a lot of online press speculation — the CrunchPad, a tablet designed primarily for Web surfing and media viewing, from a company founded by Richard Arrington, who runs the influential TechCrunch technology blog.
Unlike Apple’s rumored product, Arrington has been open about his plans to release the product, possibly this summer.
‘Not a Good Value Proposition’
One particularly intriguing aspect of the current rumor-stream about Apple’s tablet plans is the suggestion that, if the product exists, it might be offered on a subsidized basis from a phone carrier.
Michael Gartenberg, a Vice President at industry research firm Interval Research, pointed out that we’ve been seeing experiments from carriers such as Verizon Wireless, which is offering a subsidized HP netbook — along with a two-year data plan.
He noted that the long-term costs for a deal such as Verizon’s “is not a good value proposition for consumers,” considering the speed at which hardware Relevant Products/Services progresses and the two-year costs one must incur just to get a price break on a low-cost computing Relevant Products/Services device.
But, he said, we should expect to see more such experiments from carriers, such as Android-based netbooks. “If they do it right, it could become a good business for the carriers,” he said, adding that another approach could be allowing a customer Relevant Products/Services to share the data plan among a number of devices, as Verizon is now doing with its MiFi offering.
However, Apple is different, Gartenberg said, since the company “tends not to issue products just to see what will stick, but they tend to build a product that will appeal beyond a niche to millions of customers.” In other words, if Apple does release a tablet and does a deal with a carrier, it could be a different model.