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Apple Tablet Rumours Resurface After Speech

Rumours of an possible Apple tablet have resurfaced after it was mentioned in passing during a speech by the New York Times executive editor

The rumour mill surrounding a possible tablet PC from Apple have once again kicked into action following a speech by New York Times executive editor Bill Keller.

Rumours of the Apple tablet resurfaced at the weekend, with leaked video of the executive editor at The New York Times referring to “the impending Apple slate.”

While Apple has long refused to confirm or deny the scuttlebutt over a tablet PC, periodic leaks of everything from alleged patents to insider reports have never failed to ignite a media firestorm. Fuelling the fire have been analyst reports suggesting that such a device will be released in the first half of 2010.

“We need to figure out the right journalistic product to deliver to mobile platforms and devices,” Bill Keller, the executive editor at The New York Times, told the newspaper’s staff during a mid-October meeting at The Times Center in New York City. “I’m hoping we can get the newsroom more actively involved in the challenge of delivering our best journalism in the form of Times Reader, iPhone apps, WAP, or the impending Apple slate, or whatever comes after that.”

A transcript of Keller’s remarks found its way onto the website of the Nieman Journalism Lab, a project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. The gathering was originally intended as off-the-record, before the video began its spread across the web over the weekend.

Whether or not Keller was referring to an actual Apple tablet PC, as opposed to say, Apple’s upcoming “slate” of products, recently uncovered patent applications filed by Apple suggest that the company is exploring touch-screen technology.

In a patent application filed in June 2009, Apple described a device whose touch-screen can be manipulated with fingers of both hands as well as the palms, theoretically allowing a broad range of activities including drawing or typing. The electronics involved in the patent would minimise feedback from a stray hand or finger accidentally resting on the device, and would accommodate different-sized hands.

“The primary object of the present invention,” the patent read, is to “provide a system and method for integrating different types of manual input such as typing, multiple degree-of-freedom manipulation, and handwriting on a multi-touch surface.”

The patent application, originally reported by Apple Insider and other blogs, can be found here.

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Back in August a report in The Wall Street Journal suggested that CEO Steve Jobs, returned from medical leave, was devoting a good deal of attention into the gadget. Jobs allegedly killed two previous versions of the device over concerns about battery life and internal memory capacity. In response to that article, Jobs emailed the Journal to state “most of your information is incorrect.”

The existence of an Apple tablet PC, along with e-readers such as Amazon.com’s Kindle line or Barnes & Noble’s just-announced Nook, could help repair the fortunes of newspapers and other periodicals looking for new ways to attract readers and revenue. Amazon.com has previously negotiated deals with content providers to port their periodicals onto the Kindle, and Barnes & Noble is doing the same. With the decline of traditional print advertising and readership, newspapers have been bleeding funds and staff members, leaving them desperate to find a new paradigm to embrace.