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Bad glass delayed Apple tablet?

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While here in the States Apple-tablet rumors are churning the waters as turbulently as a pool of piranhas into which has been dumped a truckload of honey-dipped hamsters, over in the Far East the iWhatever's impending release is being treated as a fait accompli.

Even though, as reports suggest, Apple's device is months late.

Not slowed by the Christmas torpor that settled over most of the Western world, the busy folks at MacRumors turned up a web registration by Apple for the domain name iSlate.com, prompting some to assign that name to the device than now seems to be destined for its coming-out party on January 26.

However, the Taiwanese market-watchers at DigiTimes have more practical considerations on their minds than marketing matters - such as who is providing parts for the device, and who's building it.

In a report on Monday, DigitTimes' sources revealed that Foxconn will build the device, and that its Innolux division will be the primary display supplier for the 10-inch iWhatever. "Mass shipments" of the device will begin in March or April after Apple's expected January announcement.

Interestingly, the report also mentions that Apple "was forced to delay" shipping the iWhatever until 2010 due to problems with strength of the display, and that another Foxconn subsidiary, G-Tech Optoelectronics, had been brought in to solve that problem.

This tidbit might explain what Apple missed the 2009 holiday shopping season, and why the iWhatever was originally rumored to have appeared in fall 2009. Possibly that was Apple's plan, but the tablet's display technology wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

The also-rumored 7-inch model wasn't mentioned in Monday's report, but back in March DigiTimes also reported that Wintek - mentioned today as a second supplier of 10-inch panels - would be the supplier for what it then referred to as "Apple's new netbook." Perhaps Wintek is handling the 7-inchers and Innolux the 10-inchers.

But then again, Wintek was mentioned in July as being the supplier of a 9.7-inch touch screen for the iWhatever. Rumors are easy. What counts are parts orders and shipment schedules - and maybe more information might leak out at Innolux's shareholders meeting, set for January 6 in Miaoli, Taiwan. Stay tuned. ®

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