Apple's long rumoured tablet computer could be worth US$1.2 billion to the company according to a leading analyst.
Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster issued a report to clients on Friday offering some speculative facts and figures suggesting the tablet has real revenue potential and not simply niche appeal.
Munster predicts the Apple tablet device will sell 2 million units in its first year, retailing for around $600 each, generating $1.2 billion in revenue.
The analyst also believes the tablet will be available early next year and not earlier as some rumours suggest.
"Last week we spoke with an Asian component supplier that has received orders from Apple for a touch-screen device to be fulfilled by late (calendar year) 09. This data point underscores our thesis that a tablet will likely launch in early (2010)," Munster writes.
This would contradict reports from last week, which claimed a September release date for the device. Apple traditionally announces new iPod ranges in September and the Apple tablet could be revealed at the same time.
Munster also believes the Apple tablet computer will be similar to an iPod touch, only obviously larger, with the ability to run most of the 70,000 plus applications on the Apple iPhone App Store, along with a new category of applications designed for the tablet's bigger screen.
"Apple could choose to simply run the current App Store apps on the larger device, with enough usable space for multiple apps to run (multi-tasking)," Piper Jaffray's report states.
"Key apps, like Safari and Mail, could be made larger to make use of the larger screen resolution, making Apple's tablet appealing for more extended use, and the company could continue to leverage its primary asset in mobile computing, the App Store, in this scenario. We believe this is the most likely scenario given the success of the multi-touch platform and the App Store ecosystem, which could be accelerated with a tablet device."