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More corroboration of tablet device brewing at Apple

Apple is indeed working on tablet-like device that may finally surface sometime next year according to a trio of sources who've been in touch with high-tech blog TechCrunch.

The news should come as little surprise to avid followers of the Cupertino-based company. Back in September of 2007, AppleInsider exclusively reported on plans for the larger multi-touch device in its report titled "Up next for Apple: the return of the Newton."

Although it's been more than a year since that initial report with no sign of the product from Apple, AppleInsider has maintained confidence that the company is still actively developing the device and intends to bring it to market only when it meets the stringent demands of chief executive Steve Jobs.

In its own report Tuesday, TechCrunch cited three independent sources close to Apple who say to "expect a large screen iPod touch device to be released in the Fall of ‘09, with a 7 or 9 inch screen."

"Prototypes have been seen and handled by one of our sources, and Apple is talking to OEMs in Asia now about mass production," the publication said. It added that there were some early concerns amongst Apple managers over the potential market for such a device but that those fears have been quelled by the blistering success of the App Store:

"The difference now is the iTunes app store, which has thousands of games and other applications that are perfect for a touch screen device with an accelerometer."

AppleInsider will provide a brief update on the status of Newton tablet following next week's Macworld Expo.