Wired has decided that 2010 will be the year of the tablet, and it's arguable that the multi-touch additions to upcoming Snow Leopard make a tablet an obvious step for Apple. Despite that, others are claiming that after seven years of torturous rumours and speculation the predicted tablet from Apple just doesn't exist. Whatever the truth of the thing we can confidently predict that over the next few months the rumour mill will be running at high speed.
Sitting on the sidelines, nobody tells me anything. But something is up. The rumours surrounding the Apple tablet have a curious firmness about them, much like the later part of the two years of rumours leading up to the original iPhone launch back at the start of 2007.
However having used a tablet to try and do actual work, I tend to agree that tablets aren't mainstream. But then netbooks aren't mainstream and they're selling rather well, even I bought one, or as it happens two of them.
Dell at least may be deliberately targeting their rumoured tablet at the niche e-book reader market, and may well even offer their tablet for free with a contract for "one or more digital media subscriptions", which would be interesting. The Kindle is selling well, so perhaps it's even a sustainable model. Although Amazon at least aren't giving away the hardware as a loss leader.
When it comes down to it I'd be less interested in the rumours of an Apple tablet if it wasn't for the iPhone. The iPhone was the first mobile device I've ever owned, and I've owned a fair few, where I could check my email comfortably. That's made a big difference, and it's because the iPhone is not a phone, it just happens to be able to make phone calls. So maybe what I really need is a well designed tablet?
Update: Of course there are some people that are just pulling figures out of the air when it comes to the rumoured Apple tablet...