TechCrunch claims to have 3 independent sources telling them that Apple is expected to release a 7″ or 9″ tablet to be released this Fall. One of their sources even claims to have seen and handled the prototype and also says that Apple is talking to OEMs in Asia about mass production.
Apple has been experimenting internally with large form tablet devices for years, one source says, but there was concern that users wouldn’t like the device.
Rumors like this come and go but the fact that Michael Arrington would have 3 independent sources on the subject seems a little bit more concrete. I would have to say though that the idea that anyone close enough to the Apple “inner circle” to actually see or handle this yet to be released tablet wouldn’t be the kind that would go telling people about it.
I’m not going to rule out the idea of a device like this being made, in fact I’m sure Apple has experimented with it in the past and is probably doing so now, but I don’t know if I believe that Apple would be releasing one this year. I think the iPhoneOS is just too early on in its life span to be able to handle both a 3.5″ screen and a 7-9″ screen. And, certainly Apple wouldn’t want to take developers away from developing specifically for the “funnest iPod ever.”
If Apple was to make a tablet it would make much more sense for it to be running a full version of OS X modified enough to run a bit easier with just a touch screen.