Steve Jobs is back — he's leading Apple's netbook efforts, says WSJ

While Steve Jobs may claim he is taking time off from the day-to-day business of running Apple, that certainly does not mean he isn’t guiding the company’s direction. Jobs is still actively involved with business decisions, reports the Wall Street Journal. This includes work towards a netbook device, despite the company’s best efforts to deny that it is interested in the market.

How convenient that Jobs’ return would be confirmed on this day of Easter, the day of celebrated resurrection.

The device will come in at a size larger than the iPhone/iPod touches, yet smaller than any of its laptops, the WSJ reports (this would kind of obvious, though). It’s hard to say what this Apple netbook would look like exactly — it seems none of the Apple tipster sites have yet to get a good grasp on it, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation.

Apple has placed an order for 10-inch touchscreens from a Taiwan distributor for delivery in the third quarter, Reuters reported last month citing its own sources. But, this may not be for a netbook (in fact, a 10-inch screen would actually be on the big side considering most netbooks have screens smaller that that), and rather for the oft-rumored tablet PC that Apple is said to be mulling about.

There’s another possibility too: that these netbook/tablet PC rumors could actually refer to the same device. Microsoft’s Tablet PC, for example, has only found a niche market to date because full-featured PCs with touchscreen capabilities just aren’t in great demand. Related to that, you could argue that tablet PCs are essentially glorified laptops that don’t justify their price.

Consumers have found the netbook alluring because of its small, lightweight size and equally diminutive price. These devices aren’t meant to play the latest and greatest games or high-end applications, and thus contain things like expensive graphic chips — they’re meant to keep things sweet and simple.

A tablet netbook may solve these problems. That is certainly what MacRumors suggests: “Apple’s ongoing research into multi-touch, however, has generated speculation that Apple may incorporate more advanced gesturing into a future device.” In other words, who needs a keyboard, anyway?

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