Analyst report pins Apple tablet launch in March or April

Hey, did you hear Apple might have a tablet PC in the works? Crazy, right? Yes, we've been facing a veritable deluge of rumors about the device over the past few months, and there's no drought in sight. The latest cloudburst comes to us courtesy of AppleInsider, which got some new information from Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner.

Reiner wrote in a research note this morning, "Our checks into Apple's supply chain indicate the manufacturing cogs for the tablet are creaking into action and should begin to hit a mass market stride in February. . . . At this stage Apple appears to be sizing its supply chain to support production of as many as 1M units per month."

Reiner believes Apple will need five or six weeks of inventory to accumulate before launch, so as AppleInsider points out, that would place the launch in the March-April time frame. Shipments could total 1-1.5 million a quarter at $1,000 a pop.

Hardware-wise, the analyst expects a 10.1" display based on the same LTPS technology as the iPhone's multi-touch screen. Interestingly, the research note explicitly shoots down a previous round of rumors from the Far East, which suggested that Apple would introduce an OLED version of the tablet and delay the LCD model until the second half of next year.

Otherwise, AppleInsider says Apple is busy working out content distribution deals with book publishers. The Mac maker is purportedly offering to take a 30% cut of revenue and proposing generally more favorable terms than Amazon does with the Kindle. That particular nugget corroborates previous information we gleaned from an Australian paper.

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