Apple rumoured to have touchscreen netbook in the making

LONDON - A source speaking to a Chinese-language newspaper has sparked rumours that Apple is planning to launch a touchscreen netbook-style laptop by the end of the year.

An article running in the Chinese newspaper Commercial Times, quotes an unnamed source from Taiwan-based Quanta Computer, which builds computers for several technology companies around the globe including Apple.

The Quanta insider revealed that the company would be building an Apple netbook, with the touchscreens provided by Taipei-based company Wintek, which manufactures touchscreens for  Apple's iPhone, to be delivered by Q3 2009.

Wintek is reported to have received a large order from Apple for touchscreens measuring in the 10-inch netbook size.

The story ran on the Dow Jones newswire, which was picked up by bloggers around the globe, igniting a storm of speculation, splitting the opinions of the blogosphere.

It has since been published on a number of major media websites, including Reuters.

Many bloggers, including PC World's Jeff Bertolucci who wrote an article titled 'Lies, Damned Lies, and Apple Netbook Rumors' are sceptical of the news.

However, in February Apple's acting chief executive Tim Cook said that the company was closely watching the netbook market and had some "great ideas" planned, although Apple chief Steve Jobs has previously dismissed the notion of an Apple netbook.

Although bloggers are at odds on the likelihood of an Apple netbook -- rumours of which have resurfaced for a number of years -- many agree that Apple is planning to launch some sort of larger touchscreen device in the near future.

These speculations range from simply larger iPods, capable of watching HD content to an Apple "Tablet" device, a keyboardless computer, the likes of which are currently available for Windows-based PCs.

Netbooks are mainly designed for internet browsing and mobile computing, cheaper, smaller and less powerful than conventional laptops.

A number of companies offer netbooks in the sub-$500 range, including Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus and Acer, with premium netbooks from Sony fetching about $1,000.

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