The recent announcement of the third generation iPhone OS has fueled persistent rumors of an Apple netbook or other intermediate size device, something I’d welcome for so many reasons. So this morning I was happy to stumble on Rex Hammock’s blog post predicting a supersized iPod Touch:

Within the next 45 days, not later than May 1, Apple will unveil the “Rumor #3 device” – an oversized iPod Touch. Along with that prediction, I’ll make the following educated guesses based on my experience of trying to fan the fires of this rumor for the past three years:

The device will be an iPod Touch, not a netbook or a tablet computer: I can’t emphasize this enough: It’s not going to be “an eBook reader” (or a “Kindle Killer,” see below) or “a netbook.” I don’t believe the device will have a physical keyboard and Apple will be explicit in its marketing that this is NOT merely an “eBook reader” or in any way, a computer replacement. It will be marketed as a complimentary device that fits between your iPhone and desktop or laptop computer. It will operate just like an iPod Touch but the display will replicate the foot-print and weight of a spiral-bound notebook popular on college campuses. The rumored 8×10″ screen means the full device will have dimensions extremely close to the size of a standard 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper.

How cool is that… but is it coming soon to an AT&T store near you? Maybe not. Rex’ prediction (rumor mongering?) concludes:

The first great opportunity for sales of this device is not the fourth-quarter holiday season, but the “back to school” window. One of the few promotions Apple runs year-after-year is one in which a person with a student ID can purchase a new Mac and receive a free iPod. While I doubt they’ll be giving the devices away, I believe the promotion will be centered on this device and will include a tremendous discount. I believe you’ll also be seeing an explosion of university-oriented and campus-specific iPod/iPhone Apps appearing during the summer, as well.Final thoughts: A couple of years ago, when I first wrote about such a device in comparison to the Kindle, one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Nashville-based Thomas Nelson, the sixth largest book publisher in the U.S., made a comment on my post.

In that comment, Michael wrote:

“I would much rather have an Apple Touchbook than the Kindle (which I own). However, you’re forgetting one small detail. The device is only one-third the equation. iTunes is another third. So far so good. A seamless way to get content from the store onto the device. What Apple is missing is the RELATIONSHIPS. They don’t have any relationships with book publishers that enables them to get access to the content…Could Apple develop these relationships? Sure. My point is that they haven’t started and this is where Amazon has a leg up. For most of us, they are one of our largest customers and we trust them.”

I wonder if Apple has started developing such relationships? I’m sure Michael or others in the book publishing world may already have a good clue as to whether or not the guesses in this post have any merit. But unlike when Michael wrote that comment, Apple may not even need a direct relationship to kick off this product. Maybe that’s what the Kindle iPhone/iPod App is all about.

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