Alright, so Microsoft's cat is out of the bag. We know what their Courier tablet PC looks like (gorgeous) and now we just have to wait for a release date. While we're waiting, it couldn't hurt to spend some time pondering the iTablet.
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Personally, I've tried not to take the iTablet too seriously. Apple hasn't given one jot of confirmation and we've been hearing rumors about this product for years now. However, given the virtual mountain of tablet releases in the last few days and weeks, and the most recent RBC Capital Markets survey (thanks, AppleInsider), I've started to take the iTablet a bit more seriously.
RBC surveyed 3,100 people, and more than 1/5 of them stated that they would be interested in an Apple tablet computer with a price point of between $500-$700. In 2007 RBC did a similar study to see if users would be interested in the iPhone. Only 9% said yes then, which speaks well for the amount of buzz the unannounced, unreleased tablet has been able to generate.
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So is Apple working on a tablet? I'm still torn between answers, myself. Considering the company's reputation for secrecy, I doubt we'll know for sure until Steve Jobs himself introduces it. That said, studies like this at least show that there is a substantial audience for the device. If Apple doesn't want to cater to those people, someone else is sure going to try.