Rumors about an Apple "netbook" or "tablet" have been rampant for years, but if a report today on the Taiwanese news site Info Times is any indication, a touchscreen Mac may finally be coming to market in October of this year. This would put the new device in stores in time for the prime holiday buying season.
MacRumors has published a translation of an Info Times article that states that Taiwanese manufacturers Foxconn, Dynapack, and Wintek have all received orders from Apple for components or (in the case of Foxconn) finished product with respect to a 9.7" diagonal screen tablet device. Foxconn reportedly lost out on much of the manufacturing of the new generation of MacBooks, but has been tapped for the touchscreen netbook due to the success they had working with Apple on designing and manufacturing the iPhone.
Earlier this year, TUAW reported that Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster expects Apple to release a touchscreen device. However, his prognostication pointed to a release in 2010.
Several updates have been posted to the MacRumors translation. The first notes that the manufacturers have all denied being involved with Apple on a netbook. In all cases, the manufacturers have company policies that prohibit disclosure of client information. Another update reports that several British reporters have received confirmation from Foxconn employees about the device, while a third mentions that the screen size choice was based on that of the Amazon Kindle DX.
Due to the integration of touchscreen technology into the device, it is expected that it will retail for more than traditional netbooks at around $800. As with all rumors dealing with new Apple devices, take this with a very large grain of salt, and don't put off any purchase decisions based on what could once again be wishful thinking on the part of Mac fans.