Apple – OLED for Netbooks?

Apple MacBook Air On top of the rumors already floating around, Smarthouse published an article last week claiming that not only is Apple close to launching a touch screen-based netbook, but that they have been looking at using OLED display technology for both the display and a keyboard.

Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology is relatively new technology. OLEDs transmit less light than traditional LEDs, however they don’t require backlights. This allows them to draw a lot less power, and when compared to conventional LED-backlight displays running on the same battery, they have a much longer battery life. Because they don’t need a backlight, they are also substantially thinner.

Their sources claim that Apple is mixing touchscreen-oriented features both from iPhones as well as MacBooks (multi-touch touchpads), and they have had meetings with Sony about licensing Sony’s OLED technology for Apple products. One of the analysts mentioned calls it “an iPod Touch on steroids”. They also claim that Apple has been looking at SDX flash memory.

The sources mention that this new ultraportable/netbook will probably not be ready until sometime in the second half of 2009, with some analysts mentioning as late as October (which would be in time for the Christmas/New Year holidays).

It’s an interesting rumor/story. Apple clearly doesn’t want to “race to the bottom” and compete with Acer and Asus and HP (as well as Dell) in the cheaper part of the netbook/ultraportable market. Chances are they’d much rather have a device available for those wanting such a small form factor, while at the same time retaining some unique features that put them more into competition with the 8″ Sony VAIO P Series. Having an OLED display would allow them to either have substantially longer battery life, or to reduce the size of the battery needed (thereby reducing the weight).

Read: Smarthouse