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Apple looks to take tablet beyond bathroom Web browsing

With its development reset by co-founder Steve Jobs numerous times, Apple's forthcoming tablet is a device that has been through many internal revisions that look to offer more than "surfing the Web in the bathroom."

In a report that seeks to find the future of the tablet PC, The New York Times has offered some insight into Apple's tablet dreams, which the company has been working to bring to reality for years. The story cited numerous ex-employees of the company, including one who said Jobs kept scrapping prototypes because they weren't good for anything except browsing the Web from the bathroom.

Apple allegedly developed one tablet prototype in 2003 using a PowerPC chip from IBM. But Joshua A. Strickland, a former Apple engineer who worked on the company's patented multi-touch technology, said the hardware was too expensive, it didn't perform well, and it had poor battery life.

An unnamed former Apple executive is also quoted — one who believes that the company will release a tablet next year. Sources have told AppleInsider that a 10-inch, 3G-connected device will debut in early 2010.

"I can imagine something like the iPhone with a much bigger screen being a gorgeous device with great capacity, but I don’t know where I would fit that into my life," the anonymous executive reportedly told the Times. "Those are the debates that have been happening inside Apple for quite some time."

Speculated to be Apple's breakthrough is the App Store, which last month crossed the 2 billion threshold in downloaded applications, and has more than 85,000 total options available. The report cited analysts who believe a tablet would have access to that library of applications.

With information on Microsoft's own touchscreen device, code-named Courier, leaked weeks ago, and numerous Windows 7-based touchscreen devices coming this fall, tablets look to be coming to the market in full force, despite their lack of commercial success in the past.