NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( AAPL) is still puttering with its next biggest breakthrough product. The launch of the Apple Tablet, three years in the making, has apparently been pushed to the second half of next year due to component changes, according to a report by Digitimes, a Taipei news service that tracks Asia's tech production industry. The latest delay of what has to be one of the most watched and hotly anticipated gadgets currently on the tech radar may involve Apple's decision to use expensive OLED screens. The organic light-emitting diode displays promise to be brighter and more energy efficient than the current generation of liquid crystal displays or LCDs. But OLED technology is new, and the prices will likely remain very high for the next year. A conflicting report from Pacific Crest Thursday says Apple is still on track for a spring release of an LCD screen Tablet. Both reports may help confirm speculation that Apple is working on two Tablets -- a $900 LCD model, followed by a $2,000 OLED design. Apple chief Steve Jobs has been reported to have taken a big role in the Tablet's development and has rejected previous iterations. The Tablet will be the biggest test yet of whether Jobs still has a deft eye for designs that click with consumers. Apple has had prototypes of the large touch-screen device available for more than a year and was finally expected to introduce it late this year only to be delayed again. The overarching question for Apple is whether consumers will want Tablets by the thousands or the millions. And to be sure, it will take Tablet sales in multiple millions before Apple's gamble can be deemed a win.
Apple's hunt for a new game-changing product has taken it out to uncharted territory. Historically, Apple has made winning innovations on existing products like computers, MP3 players and cell phones. But the scrub lands of Tablet development offer very little in terms of fertile ideas for Apple to cultivate. Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and Toshiba have gone forward and failed with their own clunky models. But the fact that Apple has been taking clues from the popularity of its iPod Touch device is an indication that consumers are hungry for something bigger in touchscreens. Without a keyboard or radical improvements to touch-screen keypads, Apple's Tablet will be less of a computer and more of a media player -- think Amazon ( AMZN) Kindle or Sony ( SNE) E-Reader and not smartbook or notebook. Hundreds of millions of laptop typists aren't likely to trade in their keyboards for virtual keys, or worse, revert to writing with a stylus. And by that measure alone, Apple's Tablet, while destined to be dazzling, will be a mass market flop.