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Apple lineup: The Netbook is already here.

iPod Touch-the real Mac Netbook
iPod Touch-the real Mac Netbook

I’m beginning to think the iPod touch is not an end-of-life product that should be ignored. Oh, I did at one time due to the torrid pace at which Apple was releasing new iPhone products. Seemed like the old iPod was absolutlely superfluous. As the iPhone models increased their storage and speed, the iPod touch tagged along, but not too closely. Currently the iPod touch is consider a second generation device (2G) versus the iPhone in its 3G and now 3GS forms.

Like most of you who may not own an I phone, I have felt the pressure of seeing all my friends of Facebook buying iPhones and cross-posting from Twitter to Facebook via their iPhone. So caving into peer pressure, I’m considering buying an iPhone maybe in October when I reach the 3 year mark as a customer with AT&T. I have some things working in my favor though. I lucked out with being a Cingular customer before they combined with AT&T and before the exclusive distribution deal for the iPhone. But do I really need to buy an iPhone to get all the benefits of the App Store? Do I need to pay for the big hefty data plan?

Maybe not. Just this past week Mark Sigal @ O’Reillycom followed up all the rumors and speculation about Apple entering the netbook market with a Tablet PC. He claimed then Apple was already making a netbook and it was called the iPod touch:

But, perhaps the real story with respect to the forthcoming Apple Tablet Device is that Apple has already released a tablet computing device.

It’s called the iPod touch, and because it’s often overshadowed by its noisier sibling, the iPhone, we sometimes forget that it has already sold 15M+ units.

via: O’

Today J.P. Morgan is also saying, Apple is already in the netbook market. They have a device called the iPod touch.

The J.P. Morgan report views the iPod touch as Apple’s netbook, of sorts. At least, the analysis says, until Apple officially enters the netbook market – something the firm expects the Mac maker to do.

via AppleInsider | iPod touch seen as small but stealthy asset in Apple lineup.

Given the confidence level of reading these two articles I am more willing to consider an iPod touch. It seems like a more frugal choice without the burden of un-ending data plan fees. True the cost is not susidzied by AT&T, but that one time shot of money is about what I was willing to spend on a netbook anyways. So maybe an iPod touch is the better option if you want to save a little cash by not purchasing a huge data plan from AT&T.

computers technology wired culture

Apple web tablet on the way???

Mac Tablet PC
Mac Tablet PC

The answer to the question in this picture to the left is a resounding NO! All bets are being placed on Apple using a custom processor for it’s version of a Tablet PC. This is interesting in that everyone in the Technology Computer Gizmo/Gadget news circles has pursued this as a story starting last week.

China Times Daily apparently is hinting a new Mac Tablet is being manufactured for release in October of this year. I’m surprised they decided to go with a custom processor for the tablet. But given the ultra-competitiveness of the Wintel netbook market, CPUs are the next big thing in product differentiation. There are manufacturers now using Google’s Android cell phone OS paired with cell phone processors from ARM and Motorola for a new generation of battery conserving netbooks. Most of those products are targeted at the Pacific Rim market and will never see the American market at all. Which made me sad because I would love to have a netbook with extra long battery run times.

I have adapted much of my computer needs to what can be delivered through a network, web-browser and web apps. So the netbook to me is a nice analog to a cell phone and I’ve been waiting to jump into the market until some bigger innovations occured. Maybe this product will help shift the market the way the iPhone has done for cell phones. And with their new found CPU designs maybe product differentiation will even be easier.

However, hairy eyeball of experience rears it’s ugly head and takes the shine of this buzzing hive of technology press bees. Enter Mark Sigal @ O’ Mark doesn’t think the tablet is the real story, but that the iPod Touch IS the Mac Tablet right here, right now. Given Mark Sigal’s earlier survey of the mobile computing landscape he proposes a unified matrix of Apple computing products rather than phone vs. computer. So the longer one waits, the less we have to worry about whether we should be buying a Tablet or an iPhone. Personally I think the bigger screen and the new CPU from PA-Semi does warrant some extra attention. I think we’re going to see either longer battery run times, or maybe mix of iApps and iLife and iWork on the same happy device. But, who knows? We all have to wait until October.

From the Register

The VentureBeat note says that Apple divided the PA-Semi designers between two projects: ARM-based mobile phone processors on the one hand and a tablet processor, possibly ARM-based as well, on the other.

So we are looking at an Apple CPU-powered Mac tablet with touchscreen functionality and an October launch. The timing is said to be suitable for sales in the lead up to Christmas. Neither the manufacturers nor Apple are saying anything.

via Pssst… Apple tablet on way, whisper Chinese moles • The Register.

computers technology wintel

PowerVR maker – Imagination Inc.

Imagination is the name of the of company making the wicked cool low power graphics chip called PowerVR SGX. In the handheld manufacturing market Imagination scored two huge design wins. First was the Apple iPhone and iTouch. Second is the Palm Pre. It is very encouraging that the designers at Palm chose the PowerVR in order to create the iPhone killer. No doubt Palm benefited directly from inside knowledge of the iPhone when they hired former Apple VP Jon Rubinstein to head this new iPhone killer project at Palm.

Now Apple realizes it needs to protect it’s competitive advantage. They are sinking some several million dollars in Imagination stock to prevent any hostile takeover of their strategic partner. Even more interesting than this move on Apple’s part is Intel has already staked a huge claim on Imagination without having a single design win to announce. There’s some word out that future netbooks will use an integrated PowerVR chip. But the next revision of the Atom CPU and chipset will definitely have PowerVR integrated in, scoring some bigger more strategic design wins on the low power front. Intel hopes to best Apple at the low end, low power, long battery duration category.

The investment is considered important for Apple, which uses only PowerVR graphics in its iPhone and iPod touch devices. Its most recent launch, the iPhone 3GS, uses a PowerVR SGX video core now believed to be the SGX535.

via Electronista | Apple more than doubles stake in PowerVR maker.

computers technology wintel

“Pine Trail”-Intel’s next Atom CPU revision

In the netbook manufacturing and product development industry, the next big thing is always Intel’s rev of the CPU and chipset. Cue the entry of the Pine Trail CPU and it’s partner I/O Hub chip. Only just this year has Intel shown a willingness to combine functions onto the same processor die. I am very interested to see that the CPU is combining not just the Memory Controller as is the case the top of the line i7 CPU family. Talk about a weight reduction right? The original chipset consisted of no less than 3 processors a North Bridge and South Bridge along with the CPU. Now with the coming of the Pine Trail, it’s a big CPU/GPU/Memory combo and a single I/O hub. I’m hoping the power consumption improves and comes much closer to the proposed specs of the Android based netbooks that will use Smartphone CPUs like Motorola’s or ARM based System-on-Chip custom CPUs. If Intel can combine functions and get battery life for a 3-cell unit to average 8+ hours under even heavy CPU loads, then they will have truly accomplished something. I’m looking forward to the first products to market using the Intel N450, but don’t expect to see them until after Christmas of this year 2009.

Atom CPU and chipset
The Intel Atom

It should use the technology behind Pineview and would be made built on a new, 45 nanometer design that merges the memory controller and graphics directly into the processor; accompanying it would be the new-generation Tiger Point chipset, which is needed for and takes advantage of the N450 design.

From: MacNN|Electronista