Apple's tablet, in development for so long it's almost a fairytale, described online as "unicorn dust" and magic, is finally due today. Everyone's trying to guess exactly what will be revealed. We've had a go, too. But we're taking a different approach...
Following a music fanfare His Highness, Sir Steve of Apple will take center stage at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. GMT) in the Yerba Buena Arts Castle before his adoring crowd. Acknowledging the applause with a wave, and clad in the finest courtly blue jeans, Sir Steve will then address the populace.
His speech will start with celebratory words concerning the wonderful efforts of his kingdom of Apple in the previous year, and he'll mention how much gold has been added to his coffers. He'll talk about iTunes, and how many millions of people use it. He'll mention the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the iMacs...and he'll note how sales of these last computing machines have skyrocketed in recent months.
He may at this point announce some newly upgraded machines...possibly including, if you believe the wilder predictions of the Internet's gypsies, a touch screen iMac. Rumors swirl that he'll also lift the veil on a new iLife package, with enhanced powers to manage the photos, music and videos made by your family. iWork 2010 may make a showing too, and both of these may have a new element that works in the mystical cloud.
Moving on to other matters, Sir Steve will then reveal an updated OS for his iPhone telecommunicating device, codenamed iPhone 4.0. He'll demonstrate its dramatic new powers, which could include limited multitasking, enhanced GPS-based systems and maybe a whole new re-think of its user interface. Sir Steve will then thrill the crowd by announcing his developer minions will be able to get access to the new code immediately, so that they can build wondrous new apps before everyone can access the system in two months time.
All of this will be somewhat speedily presented, with Sir Steve striding enthusiastically about the stage. But then he will calm himself, and everyone there present will sense something mystical is about to happen. Steve will talk about convergence, ease of use, user excitement, and the roaring success of the iPhone. And he'll say Apple thought it had much further to go with the idea. Why limit yourself to the confines of a small screen, with the attendant issues of limited battery size and processors with carefully-managed low power? Why not add in the ability to read books that change as you read them, textbooks that have moving diagrams, and digital newspapers fresh from the printers? Games that can have more powerful graphics, and new ways to control them?
And then with a swoosh he will reveal the Apple tablet. Which will be named the iTablet, or the iSlate, or the iPad or something completely different—a name his serfs have held in secret while they distracted us with false leaks. It will have a 10 inch screen, an aluminum back, two home buttons (that for the first time are optical rather than physical), be powered by an Apple ARM chip and it will be running an enhanced iPhone OS (a fact we know for sure, thanks to the loose flapping tongue of a McGraw Hill executive in the tavern last night.) It might have a camera (or two) built into it, and it could even have sophisticated speech control. It will cost you around $900 to $1,000 by itself—though there will be many in the audience hoping, with fingers crossed, that it'll be less than this—and if you buy it with the ball and chain of a mobile 3G data provider already fitted, it'll cost you maybe $200 to $300 less.
The crowd will go wild. Steve will demonstrate how powerful his latest creation is, and he will summon various experts to aid him in this task, possibly including executives from EA Games, and maybe a famous newspaper. Its powers as a gaming tool, creative machine, navigation aid, shared family data portal, video conferencing device and entertainment center will be quickly revealed—so much of this wonder will unfold in the coming weeks.
Steve will then re-take center stage, and talk about content. Because the magic that powers the tablet is text, music, video, games, live Internet news and much more. He will reveal sweeping deals, achieved after intense negotiations with collaborators, that will provide books, newspapers, magazines, and TV shows for his tablet (and iPhone) customers to view. He'll note that this will require a new iTunes to manage it all, and with a flourish the new software will be unveiled (will he be bold enough to rename it iMedia?).
His enthusiasm will be evident throughout, and he may even upgrade his famous "boom" tagline to a "kaboom" one, such is his fervor.