MacBook Nano or iPhone Slate Caught Online, Says NYT

John Markoff at the New York Times has updated his article on a potential Apple netbook—following Steve Jobs' comments—with an interesting piece of news that reminds me of the first days of the JesusPhone, when an unidentified Apple device was detected for the first time in the traffic logs of some web sites. Markoff even provides vague specifics about this potential MacBook nano/MacBook touch/iPhone slate which was spotted in the logs of an unnamed "search engine company":

UPDATED: That would seem to confirm findings that a search engine company shared with me on condition that I not reveal its name: The company spotted Web visits from an unannounced Apple product with a display somewhere between an iPhone and a MacBook. Is it the iPhone 3.0 or the NetMac 1.0?

Like with the original iPhone—which was spotted online in web traffic blogs—I won't be surprised if this was real. Other Apple computers were detected online first as well, although some of them—like multiprocessor Macs running SETI or other distributed computing tasks—were never released. Unlike Markoff, however, I believe that Steve was completely honest when he said "we don't know how to build a sub-$US500 computer that is not a piece of junk", arguing that the company mission was to give more at the same price points, not less features for less money.

So out of pure instinct, I think we can rule out a MacBook nano netbook. Instead, if this is indeed a new unannounced Apple product, here in Gizmodo we are thinking about an iPhone HD with an updated 800 x 480 pixel display, probably coming in 2009. That resolution is something between the iPhone's 480 x 320 pixels and MacBook's 1280 x 800 pixels, which is completely reasonable: Other phones—like the HTC Touch HD—already have these ultra-sharp screens.

In addition to that, as Jobs pointed out in their financial conference call yesterday, they already have a strong entry in the small computing market with the iPhone. It is only logical for Apple—and probably less risky and cheaper—to keep the progress of the iPhone, upgrading the screen for one with a higher dot per inch count in the next model (but of course, I will always keep dreaming about the MacBook touch). [NYT]