It looks like most of us have already accepted the upcoming Apple iTablet as all but confirmed. The last couple of weeks have seen an enormous increase in iTablet rumors, and at this point I think a lot of people will be surprised if such a product doesn't materialize within the next year. But, as Stefan Constantinescu of IntoMobile points out, these sort of rumors have been floating around for the last seven years.
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Stefan is correct; the Apple Tablet has a long history of BS rumors. So what makes me think that we actually have a good chance of seeing one this time? Two things. The first is the recent netbook explosion, and the second is the Crunchpad.
In the last year, netbooks have gone from virtually nonexistent to extremely popular. By combining the portability and speed of an MID with the functionality of a laptop, netbooks represent the perfect computer for a lot of people. Apple knows that making a netbook would be extremely profitable, but they've come late to the market. Releasing their netbook as a tablet PC allows Apple to differentiate their product from the legions of virtually identical netbooks.
For the first time since the iTablet rumors began, we actually have large public demand for a device with the capabilities Apple has listed for their tablet. This is also the first time that there's been a similar competing product scheduled to launch around the same time. The CrunchPad will be out this Fall, which means that at least one other company has decided that tablet PCs have a great potential for success.
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It's still entirely possible that the iTablet rumors are just hooey, but I don't think so. The time is right for a tablet PC, and if anyone has the vision and design skill to pull such a project off, it's Apple.