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Analyst noise: Apple tablet in March for $1k, publishers on-board, Verizon iPhone coming too

If you've been following mainstream news today, then it's likely you've seen the story doing the rounds on new Apple tablet rumors, spurred by a note sent to clients from Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner. Never heard of him? That's not surprising, since he has no real connection to Apple, and his job mainly consists of telling people how to move their money around -- a Master of the Universe gear-cranker, you might say. Anyhow, Yair is sure that Apple will be releasing its 10.1-inch, multitouch tablet around March or April, with a ramp-up on production sometime in February. He also notes that the device will sell for $1,000 (so far we've heard rumored price points from $699 all the way up to $2,000), but ultimately Reiner seems most concerned with how it will impact Amazon, the Kindle, and book and media publishers.

According to the note, Apple has been in talks with publishers concerning a "very attractive proposal" in which the company will split revenue with publishing houses 70 / 30, as they do with iTunes and App Store sales (just as we speculated in our post on the Time Inc. digimag). What's most disconcerting about the report is that it seems more interested in disrupting or dismissing what Amazon is doing (particularly noteworthy as the company is in the midst of its biggest season for Kindle sales ever). When financial analysts start squawking in this manner, we like to approach with caution. As of right now, we have zero solid evidence that Apple is even producing a tablet, let alone ready to drop one for a G come March. We have heard plenty of other rumors that corroborate much of this, but if the above is the plan, you can expect a big reveal from Cupertino around the time of Macworld or CES, so you won't have to wait long to know the truth. For now, keep your BS detectors set to "stun."

P.S.: See what we mean? Now a Piper Jaffray analyst is 70 percent certain (70 percent!) that Apple will introduce an iPhone for Verizon in 2010. Hold onto your hats folks, we've only just begun.