The Apple tablet device dubbed the iSlate or the iPad by the rumour mill is understood to be the subject of a fierce bidding war among mobile network operators in the UK, including Orange, Vodafone and O2 and retailer Carphone Warehouse.
There hasn’t been this much excitement over a mobile device since the bidding war among operators in 2007 over the first iteration of the iPhone, out of which O2 emerged victorious in Ireland and the UK.
The 10-inch OLED device will be a cross between an iPhone, a netbook and a Kindle Reader, and indeed Apple has reportedly been in negotiations with book publisher Harper Collins about publishing e-books especially for the ultra-light device.
Apple is due to launch its latest range of products on 27 January and it is widely speculated that a 10-inch tablet computing device long wished for by Apple lovers will be available worldwide by Q2.
It is understood that Apple is seeking UK partners who will bundle a broadband package with the device.
The company, this time round, is also seeking multiple mobile partners rather than a single exclusive deal.
The company, headed by Steve Jobs, has so far resisted the temptation to enter the burgeoning netbook-computer market.
A tablet device similar to the iPhone could add fuel to the growing apps marketplace. Already Apple has more than 100,000 apps available on its Apps Store on iTunes.
In recent days, the web went wild when a senior executive at Orange/France Telecom inadvertently suggested the anticipated tablet computer would come with a webcam.
If Apple is indeed buying up OLED panels, it is echoing a growing trend with the latest smart phones, such as Google’s Nexus One, the Zune HD and various digital cameras sporting the technology.
The iPad tablet computer won’t be cheap and could come with a US$1,000 price tag.
By John Kennedy
Photo: An artist’s rendering of the Apple iPad tablet computer