Rumors say that a new tablet-style computer from Apple Inc. might be the first major launch in a new class of slate-like multimedia devices that could leapfrog the laptop.
With a gleaming touch screen, it might be perfect for watching movies, reading books, listening to music or surfing the Web. According to rumors, it might come out next summer and it might cost $800.
“The tablet rumors have been going crazy in the last few months,” said Arnold Kim, senior editor of Mac Rumors, a blog that tracks Apple scuttlebutt. “It’s almost at iPhone levels.”
Rumors say that the tablet’s marquee feature is likely to be its screen. As popularly imagined, the device would look like a single color panel a little larger than Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle e-reader. Because the user would be able to manipulate on-screen objects by touch, including a virtual keyboard, there would no longer be a need for a mouse or conventional keyboard. Also, the device would almost certainly be capable of playing music and movies, analysts believe, and be compatible with Apple’s online marketplaces such as iTunes and the App Store.
More than that, Apple stock shot up nearly $7 to an all-time high and has climbed even further since. On Wednesday, Apple shares rose $2.54, or 1.2%, to $211.64. The company is coming off its most profitable quarter ever, and its stock market value is more than $190 billion, higher than titans such as General Electric Co. ($163 billion) and Chevron Corp. ($156 billion).But anyone who expects the tablet to be a runaway success like the iPhone , which has sold more than 30 million units since it debuted in 2007, should switch to decaf, said Stephen Baker, a technology analyst at NPD Group.
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