Great post, hmurchison!
So you suggest the new Apple 'netbook' will run on ARM CPUs - just like the Touch Book.
I speculated about this a while ago too and concluded it's the only way for Apple to offer something substantially cheaper without cannibalizing its current Mac models.
You suggest, unlike the Touch Book, it will not come with a keyboard, but have the option to plug one in via USB. Yet adding one via USB is not nearly as smart as the Touch Book's setup.
But why not use Bluetooth? Apple already has a tiny Bluetooth keyboard. Why introduce a USB version? Probably means the new netbook will not have Bluetooth.
But that means no tethering with iPhones either! Which would seem like a no-brainer (with additional tethering data plan of course).
I really like the Touch Book's 3 internal USB slots. Smart. Just plug in your USB dongle/drive - and leave it there most of the time. Or add WiFi. Or 3G data modems.
But will Apple's netbook also have a 1024x600 display, or much less?
Somehow everyone expects Apple's netbook to be an overgrown iPod touch. But that's not nearly as smart as the Touch Book's hardware.
Will Apple innovate further?
One tech I'd like to add to the list:
The 17" MacBook Pro's smart battery. Might give the netbook 24 hour battery life.
I feel a bit sorry for the Touch Book guys. They try to create an 'iPod touch like netbook' for the masses - only to have Apple come in and steal the thunder (if the rumors are true)...
When is it coming?
My guess: introduction at WWDC as 'One More Thing', shipping in September - to give developers time to re-compile their software for ARM CPUs. It really would need to be WWDC IMHO as it is a completely new OSX platform.
One thing's not clear though:
If Apple were to introduce this in Q3, why would they purchase Samsung's April Flash production? With prices falling and economies declining, waiting a few months could only save them money. Especially if according to rumors productions will only start in Q3.