How Much Is That Apple Tablet Going To Cost? Not $399 Or $499.

apple-tablet-patent-400There are always good bits of data you can pry from Apple’s cold fingers during the Q&A sessions of its quarterly earnings conference calls. Today was no different.

As usual, a question came up about Apple entering the “low-end” laptop market, which is a fancy way of saying “netbook” market. Once again, Apple COO Tim Cook reiterated Apple’s stance that “Our goal is not to build the most computers. It’s to build the best.” What he means by this is that Apple has no interest in playing in the low-end market, which is of course also a low-margin market, which would mean Apple’s pretty margins taking a hit. But wording is everything, and Cook once again didn’t exactly eliminate the possibility of Apple making a new type of portable computing device.

He said that no matter what the price point is, that if Apple feels it can build a product worthy of its brand, it will do so. But he also specifically called out two price points that he thought are producing junky products, and implied that such price points will continue to produce junky products: $399 and $499.

And so if Apple is working on a tablet computer (or a larger screen iPod touch) of some kind, it will likely be priced above $500. To Apple watchers, that is obvious, but it’s still important to hear Cook more or less say it.

A follow-up question later on about netbooks, asked if Apple specifically saw a future for a new mobile device with a larger screen? Cook joked that while he never wanted to rule out anything in the future, he also never intends to answer questions about new products. He went on to say that he believes most customers buying portable computers want a full-featured notebook. And many netbooks are slow and run old operating systems. Naturally, he didn’t mention Chrome OS.

And that just seems to be more proof that whatever big touchscreen device Apple makes, it won’t be so much of a netbook, but rather a product that Apple hopes will once again kickstart a new type of market. Whether that will work, who knows. Let’s see the thing first.