Taking their cue from a recently-unearthed Apple Inc. patent application which some tech insiders deduced shows the hardware platform for a future “Tablet PC” MacBook, other observers are predicting that the company will release a large-screen (7 in. to 9 in. diagonal LCD) iPod Touch as early as next fall.

Adding fuel to the fires of speculation are statements by Apple CEO Steve Jobs earlier in 2008 that indicated he would be watching Tablet PCs and notebooks (including, one assumes, “netbooks”) closely, to see if any of those concepts showed signs of becoming the next consumer electronics mega-trend.

At the same time, Jobs denied reports that Apple is working on a Mac version of Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, although some observers contend that the gentleman doth protest too much and, the stronger his denial, the greater the likelihood that Apple acutally is working on something like that. And such a device could easily be built on the hardware platform described in the new patent application.

Tech industry veterans also discount the possibility of a Mac tablet PC, pointing to the failure of the Microsoft Tablet PC initiative back in the 90s. On the other hand, there are those who insist that the Tablet concept was simply way ahead of its time.

Stay tuned!

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