Report: Elusive Apple tablet delayed until late 2010

The Taiwanese rumor mill has more news about Apple's mysterious yet eagerly anticipated tablet product. This time, DigiTimes has heard from its sources at component makers that Apple will delay the tablet's launch from next March to the second half of 2010.

Why the delay? Word is that the Mac maker wants to "switch some components" and plans to introduce a second tablet model with a 9.7" OLED panel from LG. (The first model, as rumored, should have a 10.6" LCD panel.)

While the prospect of a shiny OLED tablet sounds exciting, DigiTimes has worked out some sobering price estimates. 9.7" OLED panels cost around $500 right now, it says, and displays "normally account for about 30% of the device's total cost." That means the tablet could cost as much as $1,500-1,700 to produce based on today's prices. Factor in Apple's traditionally generous margins, and you get a retail price tag well above two grand.

Perhaps pricing is one of the reasons for the delay, then. The report goes on to say OLED panels should get cheaper by 2011, so Apple could get away with more reasonable production costs of $1,200-1,500 in the second half of 2010. Subsidizing part of the cost by tying the device to a 3G data plan could be a way to bring the price further down, too. That said, DigiTimes claims the 10.6", LCD-based tablet should retail for just $800-1,000, so it's not clear how exactly Apple would peddle a smaller, more expensive OLED model.

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