The rumor reported Friday by Gizmodo states that the two new devices could be in addition to the long-rumored 10-inch device believed to be coming in early 2010.
"This source claims that the two touchscreen prototypes -- made of aluminum, but on the shape of big iPhones -- were in a factory in Shenzuen, China," the report states. "One of them 'was running Mac OS X 10.5.' When I asked, the source didn't know if these were built for demonstration purposes, or if they were preproduction units. The company has a tight relation with Apple but 'it's not FoxConn.'"
Writer Jesus Diaz goes on to call the rumor "surprising," given that most sources, including AppleInsider's own, have stated that the only forthcoming hardware has a 10-inch screen. The report speculates that perhaps Apple is exploring other form factors as internal prototypes, whether or not they will become final products released to market.
Given a report earlier this month that Apple investigated screen sizes of 4, 7, 9, 10 and 12 inches, these reports, if true, suggest that Apple has explored touchscreen devices at nearly every possible screen sizes. In the earlier report from a financial analyst, it was stated that Apple purchased large numbers of some screen sizes, suggesting they could have been for more than prototypes, but a more significant small production run.
As for the latest rumor, AppleInsider sources have been adamant that the 3G connected device due to arrive in early 2010 would come only with a 10-inch form factor.
Earlier this week, a new report stated that the upcoming tablet launch is the No. 1 priority of company co-founder Steve Jobs. AppleInsider's own sources have said that Jobs reset development of the device numerous times over the years, striving to create hardware that meets his own high standards. In fact, at times Jobs even had doubts that the product would even see the light of day. However, the device now seems set for its 2010 debut.
Gizmodo also reported weeks ago a rumor that the tablet would have a 10-inch screen and come in come in two versions: one for educational use, and one with a Web cam. That report said the operating system that the tablet would run is a "huge secret."