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Steve Jobs Almost Entirely Focused on Tablet Project?

The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that Steve Jobs has been focusing almost exclusively on Apple's much-anticipated tablet computer since his late June return from a medical leave of absence for a liver transplant. The report notes that employees who had become accustomed to a certain level of freedom in their work during Jobs' leave of absence have found his close attention to even the minutiae of the project "jarring".

Since his return in late June, the 54-year-old has been pouring almost all of his attention into a new touch-screen gadget that Apple is developing, said people familiar with the situation.

Those working on the project are under intense scrutiny from Mr. Jobs, particularly with regard to the product's advertising and marketing strategy, said one of these people. The people familiar with the matter declined to give details on the tablet or disclose when the device would come out.

In a response to The Wall Street Journal's request for comment, Jobs simply reported that "much of [their] information is incorrect" while declining to provide additional specifics.

Jobs' attention to detail on the tablet is said to be similar to his singular focus on the iPhone in the months leading up to its 2007 launch. Jobs has been quite particular about the tablet project over the last several years, having set such high standards that he had reportedly nixed the project twice before finally finding the technology sufficient to achieve his vision.

At Apple, a tablet-like device has been many years in the making. Apple filed a patent related to a tablet device as early as 2000, according to a Thomson Reuters patent database.

But development has come in fits and starts. Mr. Jobs killed the project twice in recent years, the first time because the battery life was too short, and the second time because there was insufficient memory, said one of the people familiar with the matter.

The report concludes by summarizing recent rumors pointing to a tablet introduction later this year or early next year at a price point somewhere between the iPhone and the entry-level MacBook. Also unknown, according to the article and other observers, is whether the device will run full Mac OS X or if it will run a version of the iPhone OS.