50 Percent Chance Apple Will Announce Tablet Next Month. 100 Percent Chance We’ll Keep Talking About Tablet, Whether It Appears or Not.
Is Apple planning a special event for January? If so, what are the chances it will feature this mythical tablet/slate device everyone’s jawing about?
In a research note this morning, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster hazards a guess, putting the odds of the company hosting a special event at 75 percent and the odds that Apple (AAPL) will use the event to debut a tablet-like device at 50 percent, with an eye toward a March release date.
“Based on new media reports of trademarks connected to Apple (iSlate, Magic Slate), and our own conversation last week with with a Taiwanese component supplier, we are reaffirming our expectation that Apple will likely ship a tablet device by the end March,” Munster writes. “We believe there is a 75% chance Apple will host a January event and a 50% chance it will be held to announce the tablet.”
And if Apple does announce such a device, what can we expect from it? Largely what we’ve been hearing recently, says Munster, who outlined his own expectations for an Apple tablet in another research note issued earlier this month. “We expect the tablet hardware to be similar to an iPod touch but larger (about 10″); we expect the key differentiator of the device to be its software,” Munster wrote.
“While there are several options ranging from a touch screen Mac OS X to an iPhone-like OS,” the analyst elaborated, “we expect the tablet to be driven by a new version of Apple’s iPhone OS that runs a new category of larger apps alongside all the current apps from the App Store. We believe Apple’s tablet would compete well in the netbook category even though it would not be a netbook. Rather it would focus more on apps, entertainment content (from the iTunes Store), and web surfing.”
That would make for a pretty compelling device at the right price point. Indeed, says Munster, “we believe Apple could sell about 1.4m units if the tablet shipped in March, adding 2 percent to revenue.”