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Apple tablet rumors: Time Inc. in the dark, PA Semi chip, 'secret' negotiations


U.S. publishers are reportedly negotiating tablet-related content deals with Apple in New York; a list of potential component suppliers for the hardware has surfaced, including a P.A. Semi-designed processor; and new allegations claim Time Inc. has little knowledge of the tablet.

Don't expect Time Inc. at next week's event - report

Sources with Time Inc. told MediaMemo's Peter Kafka that "Apple has only recently started" sharing details about its forthcoming device, and even those discussions have minimal details. Most of the talks between Time and Apple reportedly took place within the last few weeks.

Because of this, Time Inc. doesn't have anything to show off at next week's product unveiling, when Apple has promised it will show off its "latest creation." But, Kafka said, Time remains "intensely interested" in the device.

"But for now, Time Inc. executives are thinking about this stuff in a bit of vacuum, because they don’t know exactly what Steve Jobs has up his sleeve," the report said. "Tease that out a bit and you can tell the story of most media companies: They’re excited to start taking advantage of the tablet–as soon as they find out what it is, exactly."

In December, Time Inc. released a video demonstrating how users might read Sports Illustrated on a tablet-like device. Some members of the press were also allowed to test working demos of the concept.

P.A. Semi chip rumored to power tablet, Hon Hai to manufacture

A new note Wednesday from UBS Investment Research cited industry checks in forecasting that the Apple tablet will be powered by a processor designed by P.A. Semi and built by Samsung. Analyst Maynard Um said it would likely be a complex system on a chip design.

Um pegged Hon Hai Precision Co. as the manufacturer for the tablet, and said LG Display will likely supply most of the screens, with AUO being a second source.

Other parts noted by UBS were:

  • Connectors from Chen Uei and Hon Hai
  • Wintek, Sintek and TPK as touch suppliers
  • Batteries from Simplo and Dynapack
  • NAND flash memory from Samsung
  • Broadcom to provide a "combo" chip for connectivity

The note said the tablet is expected to hit the market at some point in the first half of 2010.

"Key will be timing and price points, in order to asses how material it could be for suppliers," Um wrote. "In addition, how convincing the device will be could generate debate as per whether the tablet device category could be revived and help overall demand."

Apple purchased fabless chip designer P.A. Semi for $278 million in 2008. The company specialized in sophisticated but low-power designs.

Top publishers in New York for Apple negotiations, referencing a report from Publishers Marketplace, said Wednesday that "secret" negotiations are taking place between Apple and "nearly all (and most likely all) of the six largest trade publishers" in the U.S. The talks are reportedly underway in New York as Apple preps to unveil its tablet next week.

Those involved said that it's possible a deal may not be reached in time for the Jan. 27 event. It also noted that publishers could be "seeking greater control over pricing and supply of digital material."

The rumors follow a report from earlier this week that Apple was in talks with publisher HarperCollins to sell e-books on the tablet, with a business model that would follow that of the existing App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch. Typical bestseller releases could cost about $9.99, and Apple would give publishers 70 percent of the revenue, while keeping a 30 percent share for itself.