What are Apple’s intentions in the fledgling Netbook market? More than what the company is letting on, if a report in today’s Commercial Times is to be believed. The daily Chinese-language financial newspaper claims that Wintek has been tapped to manufacture touchscreens for a device targeted at the category.
And that would seem to belie claims by the company’s leadership that the term “Apple netbook” is an oxymoron. Asked during Apple’s Q4 earnings call last year if the company will ever enter the netbook market, CEO Steve Jobs said, “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that….As we look at the NetBook category, that’s a nascent category. There’s as best as we can tell not a lot of them getting sold. You know, one of our entrants into that category, if you will, is the iPhone for browsing the Internet and doing e-mail and all the other things that a NetBook lets you do, and being connected via the cellular net wherever you are, an iPhone is a pretty good solution for that, and it fits in your pocket. But we’ll wait and see how that nascent category evolves and we’ve got some pretty interesting ideas if it does evolve.”
Certainly a kiss-off, yet one delivered with that “we could build a netbook that would blow your head off if we wanted to” caveat: We’ve got some pretty interesting ideas.
Apple COO Tim Cook was similarly dismissive of the netbook category during the company’s Q1 earnings call this year. “We’re watching [the netbook] space,” he said. “But, right now from our point of view, the products in there are principally based on hardware that’s much less powerful than we think customers want. Software technology that is not good, cramped keyboards small displays….And so, we don’t think that people are going to be pleased with those types of products. But we’ll see…it’s a category we watch. We’ve got some ideas here. But, right now we think the products there are inferior and will not provide an experience to customers that they’re happy with.”
Another harsh Apple kiss-off for the netbook category, yet like Jobs’s, it’s delivered with that “we’ve got some ideas” caveat–one that might just as easily be interpreted as “we’re going to redefine the category when we’re ready to.”
So what to make of this Commercial Times report? Like all Apple (AAPL) rumors, it could be something, could be nothing. But two things are certain: If Apple is planning to release a netbook it won’t be piece of junk. And it won’t sell it for $500, either.
[Image credit: Gizmodo]