Anyone holding their breath for Apple Inc's much-anticipated, but never confirmed, touchscreen tablet device may have to wait a bit longer than they planned.
Early hopes that Apple could introduce a tablet — or “iPad” — at an event in September have given way to expectations that the company will instead roll out a refreshed lineup of its iPod devices.
“It has to be great — and I don’t think it’s going to be ready for September,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger said of a tablet device that many expect would likely resemble a larger, keyboard-less iPod touch.
A number of companies have been working to put their stamp on a nascent tablet market that has yet to be truly defined, from personal computer manufacturers to Amazon.com Inc with its Kindle electronic reader.
Apple, which has a tradition of a glitzy September media event to launch new devices, has yet to announce anything, but it is widely expected to repeat the practice this year.
The year's event would be particularly important if Chief Executive Steve Jobs were to make his first public appearance since a nearly 6-month leave of absence for health issues. Investors will be keen to see for themselves how well he appears.
Jobs’ appearance could overshadow any products at the event — especially without a tablet. Odds are that the iPod nano and iPod touch will be refreshed with digital cameras, analysts say, and the iPod touch could also get a video camera. Apple could also unveil the ninth generation of its iTunes software.
Apple has declined to comment. Analysts believe the tablet may not arrive until later this year or next, given the company's reluctance to rush any device to store shelves before it is fully ready for consumers.