The forthcoming Apple iSlate will be in direct competition with the netbook, but price will be key to its success according to online retailer Play.com
Product Director Frank Keenan told T3 that the always-on-the-go internet user will face a choice between Apple’s eagerly-awaited touchscreen device and the small scale laptops, which have emerged over the last three years.
– Apple iSlate rumours: 10 things we can expect
– Exciting Nokia launch to steal Apple’s thunder?
He says: "The Apple tablet will occupy the same space as the netbook for the always-online web browser, with the added functionality of media playing, music and video.
"Netbook sales have already accounted for 30 per cent of all laptop sales in the last year and Wednesday’s potential announcement could have a huge effect on the market. We expect it to be a very big seller in the UK.
"From Steve Balmer’s CES keynote we know that other hardware manufacturers will bring products to the market this year, but Apple always leads the way."
Mr Keenan also says that subsidies from mobile broadband contracts, which could make the tablet an affordable luxury will be important in determining its fate.
He added: "Obviously the cost of ownership will be key to the uptake of these devices but with the intervention of telecoms companies to subsidise 3G and WiFi connectivity we can expect heavy discounts to be given by providers."
Meanwhile the iSlate rumours continue to rumble on, as we approach the final countdown to Apple’s Wednesday launch in San Francisco. Tech Crunch says Steve Jobs is telling people this is "the most important thing he’s ever done", App tracking company Flurry claim to have spotted a new device downloading apps from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters and a finance company are predicting that the tech giant could earn $3 billion from the iSlate in the first 12 months.
With all that being said, we’ll be mighty relieved when Wednesday finally rolls around and speculation and rumour can finally be put to bed. Next up, months of iPhone 4 rumours. Sigh.