Apple is almost certainly going to launch a netbook (or a touchscreen version of the iPod Touch) in the next few months if rumours emerging from China are confirmed.
We have already heard that Quanta was expecting to add Sony and Apple as its clients for Netbooks in 2009. Sony has already launched its Vaio P series and Apple could be the last one to join the fray (ed: better late than never). Rumours of an Apple Touch Device did also emerge at the beginning of the year courtesy of Michael Arrington although we did express strong reservations should Apple market it as a Giant iPod Touch.
Digitimes reports Chinese newspaper Commercial Times saying that Wintek will be supplying the touch panels for Apple's new netbooks with Quanta starting production of the still elusive product by third quarter of 2009. Apple is the only major PC manufacturer not to have a Netbook in its line up.
A quick look at what it has on offering shows that its cheapest computer, the Mac Mini - which doesn't include a keyboard, mouse or monitor - costs £499. Apple's cheapest laptop is a £719 MacBook. Apple is not courting the same audience as other laptop manufacturers.
Expect Apple to deny pitting its Netbook against the lower end competition. Instead, we expect a MacBook Air Mini (or Mini Air) to appear at around £800-ish with the same specs as the current MBA (except for a different screen) and the added capability of morphing to a tablet (like Asus's newly released EEE PCT T91).
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Apple's "netbook", just like its MP3 players and its smartphone, will be like no other. Apple doesn't have anything with a screen size less than 13.3-inch. There could well be a laptop filling that void by the end of the year. Note that we've used the word "laptop" rather than "netbook". There are also rumours that Apple could use non X86 CPUs for the device, which doesn't make sense really as any ARM-based processor would be woefully underpowered.