Apple tablet may not ship until June

Analyst cites “minor issues” with battery life and durability

Image: Apple Inc.

In an otherwise positive report Tuesday anticipating the introduction of Apple’s (AAPL) tablet computer at next Wednesday’s “latest creation” event, Kaufman Brothers’ Shaw Wu introduces a note of uncertainty.

“We are also picking up,” he writes, “that the product would most likely not ship in volume until the June timeframe, as there may [be] minor issues that need more work including battery life and durability. We believe the timeline could be similar to the original iPhone, where it was announced in January 2007, but didn’t ship until six months later.”

Skipping past those “minor” concerns, Wu adds some color to the rumors that have been flying about:

  • He describes the device as a hybrid between an iPhone/iPod touch and a Mac. “From our understanding,” he writes, “it is not intended to replace a Mac but to be somewhat of a ‘super’ iPod touch where video, gaming, web browsing, e-books, and the ability to run multiple apps, would be enhanced with the much larger screen.”
  • According to Wu’s sources, the device would rely on Wi-Fi, rather than AT&T’s (T) already strained 3G network, to reach the Internet.
  • Due to the $100 incremental cost of the large touchscreen, Wu expects the price point to be closer to $999 than $600, although he adds that carrier subsidies could lower the cost to end users.
  • Wu expects Apple to sell as many as 1 million units per quarter, which jibes with reports from his supply chain sources that the company is talking about building 5 million tablets the first year.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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