By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
November 19, 2009

Steve Jobs’ next big thing is being retooled, Asian supply-chain sources report

Live by the rumor, die by the rumor. Or at least go on life support.

The Apple (AAPL) tablet computer that all Silicon Valley has taken as a given — but no one outside of Cupertino seems to have seen — won’t be arriving early next year, as widely rumored, and may not appear until the second half of 2010.

This according to a report Thursday in
, a Taipei-based daily newspaper that covers — with uneven results — every hiccup in the Taiwanese and greater Chinese electronics industry. At one point, MacRumors, which trades in Apple gossip itself, stopped citing the paper without heavy disclaimers about its track record (see here.)

Still, the report includes pricing and component details that, if true, could cause Apple’s competitors to rethink their own product plans. Among other things, DigiTimes reports that Apple is gearing up to make two models, one with a 10.6 inch LCD screen, another with a far more expensive 9.7-inch organic LED (OLED) panel.

Based on the cost of components, an OLED tablet might sell for as much as $1,200-1,500, according to DigiTimes, although the price point could be reduced if subsidized by, say, AT&T (T) or Verizon (VZ). DigiTimes‘ sources expect the 10.6-inch model to priced in the $800-1,000 range.

You can read the full report here. Take it all with a grain of salt.

UPDATE: Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, one of several analysts who had predicted an early 2010 launch, issued his take on the DigiTimes report in a quick note to clients Thursday morning:

“Bottom line. At this point we cannot confirm or deny the validity
of this report, but believe the exact timing is irrelevant given
Street models do not currently reflect the tablet, expectations
for actual units in 2010 are low, and investors focus is more on
whether the tablet is real and less on timing.

“For purposes of sensitivity, assuming the tablet comes out on
September 1, we believe Apple would sell around 650,000 units at a
$600 ASP in CY10 and would equate to an increase of about 1% to

Apple shares closed at $200.51, down 5.45 points (2.65%) for the day.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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