Citing "three independent sources close to Apple" including "one source that has actually held the [prototype] device," TechCrunch is stepping into the pre-Macworld Expo rumor fray with the possibility of a large-format iPod touch device coming in the fall of next year. The hypothetical MegiPod would sport a 7" or 9" screen and, naturally, play media content and run apps from the iTunes App Store. Production conversations are ramping up now, say TC sources.
Why an iTablet, and why now? The post cites the presence of the App Store as the primary determinant that the market is ready for a touchable Apple product in supersized form: "Apple has been experimenting internally with large form tablet devices for years, one source says, but there was concern that users wouldn't like the device. The difference now is the iTunes app store, which has thousands of games and other applications that are perfect for a touch screen device with an accelerometer." TechCrunch says the big pod may not be a done deal, as we've seen a zillion Apple tablet rumors come and go -- but that Apple is still planning to move forward, this time.
I'm not sure I would personally be in the market for a 7-inch, unpocketable iPod touch with the text input system featured on present-day devices; however, the expanded screen real estate and advances in the touch tech might combine to make a true typeable surface with room to finger-breathe. The more pressing question, then: since it's hard enough now to keep other commuters and bystanders from peeking over your shoulder to see what you're watching -- how much worse would it be with that massive screen?
Meanwhile, we've made a conscious effort to steer clear of the other Macworld-related rumor today, floated by Gizmodo and irately attacked by CNBC. Whatever the source and whatever the motives, publishing unconfirmed Steve's-health stories is (as we've seen) not a particularly prudent game to play.