For the past 8 years and may be as far back as the Apple Newton days, many including myself had speculated about Apple releasing a tablet computing/media device. This device will not be a replacement of your notebook computer but to supplement the PC you already own.
Ever since the introduction of the iPhone and the mobile version of OS X, I had imagined Apple releasing something that sits as a conduet among the Apple TV, iPhone and the Macintosh PC.
This device will act as a remote interface to the Apple TV, able to bring up detials about the show or movie (ie. the type of content available from IMDB.com) you are watching. Able to receive and make calls via the iPhone, or conduct video conference. Able to leveravge the computing power of the Mac if one is available, to perform any computing that is too resource intensive for the Apple Media Tablet. You can imagine it being the view into the personal cloud created by the connected devices on the network.
Here are some of the recent events that may support the idea of such an Apple Media Tablet..
March 11, 2009 It was reported that Apple had purchased a large quantities of 10" touch screens.
April 16, 2009 Microsoft is rumored to announce a Zune HD that does video, has the capabilty to surf the Internet, and play XBox games.
May 6, 2009 Amazon surprised everyone by announcing the Kindle DX weeks after the released of an improved version of its first generation Kindle reader. This new Kindle is much larger and has standard WiFi connectivity. At the time of announcement it had agreements from several international newspapers for making digital subscription of the respective newspaper available through the Kindle. The Kindle DX will not be available until the "Summer", but Amazon is currently accepting orders. May be the reason Amazon rushed the Kindle DX announcement, even though it will most likely hurt the Kindle 2 sales, is because Amazon was worry that Apple will release or announce their Media Tablet during WWDC the second week of June.
May 11, 2009 Apple released a new version of the OS X version 10.6 beta with Chinese handwriting input for multi touch devices. Since the iPhone already has Chinese handwriting input, this so called multi touch device that runs OS X 10.6 must be a new device that we have yet to see. Since Chinese handwriting input is already available on the iPhone and iPod Touch.
May 12, 2009 Palm is rumored to release the highly anticipated Palm Pre in June, and precisely June 7th. I think Palm should have waited after WWDC to do their annoucement and product release, so it can give the media and analysts time to absorb any potential Apple announcements, before comparing the Palm Pre to anything that Apple has.
Apple's COO said that the netbook market is something they will watch, they believe the current form factor is too "cheap" for Apple to enter. And they have some exciting ideas about this area. Remember the Portable Audio Player (MP3 player), the concept was not invented by Apple nor was Apple the first to release a MP3 player. With the introduction of the iPod Apple was able to own and dominate the market.
Before Apple entered the mobile phone market. Mobile phone manufactures were sticking to the status quo and consumers were happy buying these mediocure devices. That was only because no one had shown the consumer what is possible. Apple did that with the iPhone and the consumers became more demanding.
I am not saying that the aforementioned Apple Media Tablet is a netbook, but if and when Apple enters the popular netbook market Apple will do so as a leader. The device will be something no one in the industry had seen before.