Apple is close to launching a portable computer controlled via a large touch-screen, otherwise known as a tablet computer, a Wall Street Journal report, published today, suggests. The article cites “a person familiar with the situation” as saying that Steve Jobs is intensely scrutinising the work of those on the project, particularly with regard to the product’s advertising and marketing strategy. That will only add to the widespread speculation that Apple is gearing up to launch the tablet gizmo in time for the peak Christmas/holiday selling season.

So, what will this device mean for the mobile ecosystem? The WSJ’s sources declined to reveal any details about the Apple tablet and the article says it isn’t clear which operating system the device will use. There is one intriguing snippet in the article, however: Jobs is reported to have killed the project once because the battery life wasn’t up to scratch and on another occasion because there was insufficient memory.

If the iPhone is anything to go by, we can be fairly sure that an Apple Tablet will prioritise aesthetics, a slim form factor and screen quality over battery life. And the quality of the display will probably make it a great device for watching films, playing games or reading electronic books. But what kind of connectivity will it have? Just Wi-Fi or HSPA, GSM and A-GSP as well? The more radios, the bigger the potential drain on the battery.

In any case, it looks like its time to start thinking about adapting those 50,000 plus iPhone apps for a device with a much larger and higher-resolution display.