We're already dipping our toes in November, and there isn't an iTablet to be found.
Don't blame Apple
Maybe it's just that it makes too much sense. A year ago, Steve Jobs said that he had no interest in joining the hot netbook market because Apple "doesn't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that."
However, now that netbooks, smartphones, and e-book readers are gaining in popularity, there is a logical push to create a gadget that consolidates many of these features. A flat touchscreen Apple device that can check email, display the morning paper, and stream video of your nephew's birthday party would be cool, but -- for now -- it's not real.
Apple has never been one to rush a product to market, so it's a pretty safe bet to cross off an iTablet from your holiday wish list.
Apple is blowing a huge opportunity here. As cool as Apple may be, it can't afford to drag its feet with what even the executive editor at New York Times'
Waiting is the hardest part
No matter what any Apple fan may tell you, Apple doesn't have the luxury of time.
It doesn't have to be first. Even if the iTablet is similar to Hewlett-Packard's
The reason that the clock is ticking on the iTablet is that the competitive landscape is already shaking out this holiday season -- with or without Jobs' tardy slip.
So what if the iTablet can interact with social networks, stream last night's V debut, and mix a dirty martini -- consumers won't just snap up any device because there's a partially bitten apple logo on it. If you don't believe me, wipe the cobwebs off the Apple TV.
Can Apple be following in Palm's footsteps?
Delaying the iTablet may find Apple repeating Palm's
It may be true that e-readers and existing Wi-Fi-tethered tablet PCs aren't hog-tying users to multiyear commitments. However, Apple risks either entering a market where the demand isn't there (as in the Apple TV or the Newton) or the suppliers are overwhelmingly entrenched.
I'm sure that when the iTablet sees the light of day -- and it will, bet on it -- Apple will draw long lines and gushing reviews. It may very well be the one device that bridges the gap between the MacBook and the iPhone in a way that only the Cupertino crusaders can. It just needs to be a little more impatient here. Ticking clocks can become time bombs.
The costs of being a no-show for the 2009 holiday season are lower prices and higher expectations for the 2010 season. It also gives every rival more time to satisfy the market, with or without binding two-year contracts.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been an Apple fan for ages, but isn't sure if he will be hopping on the iTablet after buying a Kindle last year. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.