How Would a Mac Tablet Computer Stack Up?

 

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Rumors continue to fly that a Mac Tablet computer is coming this fall.  The gossip is that this tablet computer will be 9.7″ in size and be announced in September or October of this year.  Fortune Magazine recently ran an article about Piper Jaffray Senior Analyst Gene Munster and his interpretation of what an Apple Tablet would be.  The computer, in his mind, will have the following qualities:

* Be similar to an iPod Touch, only larger, and capable of running most of the 70,000 applications in the iPhone App Store plus a new category of apps designed for the bigger screen.

* Will be used primarily for Web surfing, e-mail, and digital media, competing with netbooks without being a netbook.

* Will be priced between an iPhone and a MacBook, between $500 and $700.

* Is likely to include a 3G cellular modem and could be subsidized by a carrier, either AT&T or Verizon.

* Will sell better than Apple TV did in its first year, 1.2 million units.

* Could sell two million units at $600 each to generate $1.2 billion and add about 3% to Apple’s revenue stream in 2010.

Assuming that the rumors are true and a tablet computer is on its way from Apple, how would it stack up against its competition?  Let’s take a look at a couple of netbooks that are popular right now and compare them to the rumored features of an Apple Tablet computer.

Apple Tablet: Intel Atom processor, 9.7” screen, Mac OS X, Touchscreen, 802.11 n/BT/3G connectivity, $600

Acer Aspire: Intel Atom processor, 10.1” screen, Windows XP, Keyboard/Touchpad, 802.11 g/LAN, $299

Samsung Netbook: Intel Atom processor, 10.2” screen, Windows XP, Keyboard/Touchpad, 802.11 g/BT/LAN, $399

It appears that the age-old issue of higher price and a better experience versus lower cost and usability will hold true for Apple’s tablet computer.  We see the potential cost of the tablet at literally double the price of one of the entry-level netbooks.  Although we can assume that the Apple Tablet’s features would extend well beyond what a baseline netbook would offer, would it be worth it to a person who is in the market for such a computer?

The idea behind a netbook or tablet computer is to buy an ultra-portable computer for a minimal amount of money.  For $299, a student can go out and get a lightweight laptop that they can fit inside their backpack and take all over campus.  It has connectivity for wireless and wired networking and all of the basic operating system functions of a regular Windows PC.  In short, it gets the job done at a cheaper price.

The Apple Tablet would serve as a “luxury” piece in this market and begin to approach the cost of a low-end PC.  Potential access to the Apple Store and its wide range of applications would definitely help sell the product to the general public.

It seems that, for most bargain-basement computer users, an Apple Tablet that would literally cost double won’t trump the PC netbook.  However, the Apple Tablet could prove to have a much wider range of features for accessibility, social networking, and productivity that could justify the higher price.

Our speculation has led us to believe that there’s definitely some give-and-take among consumers who’d consider an Apple Tablet over a PC netbook.  A huge difference in price would be the first obstacle to overcome and Apple would have to offer features that others couldn’t, such as access to the applications within the iTunes Store.  For now, like the rest of the Mac-adoring public, we wait for the coming months for the potential announcement of what could be the most fashionable and exciting ultra-mobile computer from Apple.

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