Later today, Apple is expected to unveil what some believe may be its most important product ever: a tablet computing device.
The Apple tablet has been the subject of speculation for some time and in the lead up to Apple's media event today, the buzz has hit a fever pitch as just about everyone is talking about it. Obviously, the press and blogosphere will have plenty of information to feast on later, but I think the buzz about the Apple tablet is in and of itself worth examining. Why? I think it tells us something about...
The Tech Blogosphere
If you only casually follow the tech blogosphere, you might think that the Apple tablet is the only thing interesting in the world of technology. While there's no doubt that the possibility that Apple will announce its tablet today is big news, I've honestly never seen the tech blogosphere so fixated on anything, even prior Apple product launches.
If you ever needed evidence that the blogosphere thrives on rumor as opposed to fact, this is it. While there's nothing wrong with some healthy speculation, the level of rumor-mongering, over-analysis and one-upsmanship seen around tablet 'news' is something to marvel at. The reason is obvious in my opinion: the tablet has taken on an almost mythical role has provided bloggers with an opportunity to create whatever they want to create. In short, the Apple tablet has been a mirror into the souls of all those who wouldn't mind being Steve Jobs for a day.
The Tech Industry
I think the buzz around a (theoretical) tablet computer produced by Apple sends a clear message to the tech industry, and in particular the hardware segment: things are getting a little bit too boring. The idea of a tablet computer isn't new and while there's a lot of reason to believe that now might just be the right time for one, the fact that the industry has found the time to fixate on Apple's announcement is perhaps an indication that there's not enough going on elsewhere.
Dead Tree Media
Dead tree media may not only be watching today's media event with interest; it may be watching as an interested party. From book publishers to newspapers, numerous rumors indicate that Apple has been busy working deals with print media companies. From rumors that Barnes & Noble has formalized a relationship with Apple to the apparent slip-up by McGraw-Hill's CEO, one might get the impression that the Apple tablet could be as important to these companies as it to Apple itself.
The question, of course, is whether dead tree media can truly bank on a single piece of technology leading a revitalization of an entire industry that has seen a precipitous decline over the past several years. The hope that some in the industry seem to be holding on to could prove to be well-placed, but it could also be a sign of true desperation. Given that iTunes hasn't really saved the big labels, I'm inclined to bet on the desperation theory.
Few companies can create the type of excitement Apple can. Today's media event may be the company's most hyped ever. While we can debate the merits of the hype, you can draw a single conclusion from the amount of buzz Apple has generated here: if there's any company in technology that consumers, analysts and pundits will bet on time and time again to come up with game-changing product innovation, it's Apple.
Photo credit: Mike McCaffrey via Flickr.