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The Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) Tablet will save the newspaper industry, put Amazon’s Kindle out of business and change the way students read textbooks. It’s what technology CEOs write poems about, and it’s what Doonesbury considers fodder for a comic strip.
All of the fun ends tomorrow as reality sets in when Apple lets us all in on their precise plans. At 10 a.m. (1 p.m. Eastern) Apple will unveil what it is calling its “latest creation.” I’ll be on the ground in San Francisco to cover the event live, so check back here for updates.
If there were any doubters left in the crowd as to whether Apple was indeed launching some sort of tablet, e-reader, or mini-PC, it’s becoming increasing clear. As the final hour drew closer today, Terry McGraw of McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP), couldn’t help but spill the beans on CNBC: “We have worked with Apple for quite awhile,” he said, “and their… the tablet is going to be based on the iPhone operating system and so it’ll be transferable… So now, with the tablet you’re going to open up the higher education market, the professional market. The tablet… the tablet is going to be just really terrific.”
The big question is: Can Apple live up to the hype? It’s not just about managing expectations for tomorrow. Apple has a long road ahead. To be truly successful, the device (an iPad, iSlate or tablet or whatever) must create a new category that falls somewhere between a phone and a laptop — and not just for Apple, but also for the broader media industry. Charles Golvin, an analyst from Forrester, eloquently made that argument today on our site.
It must also get the volume needed to move the needle for the big media companies reportedly involved, like McGraw-Hill. You could even argue the iPhone hasn’t accomplished that yet. With roughly 43 million sold worldwide, it’s still relatively small. However, if you look at Apple’s growing family of devices, including the iPod Touch and now the Tablet, which will reportedly also run the same OS, we may just start seeing a big audience.