Tech Check

Apple Tablet's Specs?

Workers apply the Apple logo to the exterior of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in preparation for an Apple special event January 26, 2010 in San Francisco, California.
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So here we go.

About 24 hours to go until one of the most hyped products in Apple's history finally goes public.

And that's saying something, especially after iPhone a few years back.

And like iPhone, and iPod before it, Apple is set to reinvent an entire industry, but unlike those two pieces of hardware that addressed markets already meeting customers' needs, the tablet faces a steeper climb. Others have tried tablets and were met with limited success. Apple's approach to offer a tablet re-branded as a mobile digital media device that blends the very best of Amazon's Kindle with the very best of color video that could give publishers a brand new lease on life might be a winning strategy.

But what else can it offer?

If it's merely something complementary to my laptop, it may not work, especially at the rumored $800 to $1,000 cost. I don't want to carry a laptop, a tablet, and a Blackberry . If it relies on a touch screen instead of a real keyboard, business users may not bite. So what will this thing be?

Here are some of the specs making the rounds, and we'll see how close the rumors are. The device will feature a 10.1 inch LED or OLED screen depending on price; a massive amount of flash memory; both Wi-fi and 3G capable; it'll run on either a chip from Apple-owned PA Semi or the Snapdragon platform from Qualcomm (and if it's PA Semi, keep an eye on Intel because the writing may be on the wall for Apple using its own chips in its laptops and tablets of the future); lots of discussion that this will be Apple's first Verizon device, though insiders there are doing their best to dampen expectations that the two companies will partner on this, so I'm growing increasingly skeptical; and the release of this device is in play, with everyone I'm talking anticipating the unveiling of a "prototype" of the tablet, with a release date closer to May or June, ala the way Apple unveiled and then released iPhone.

All in all, I think the tablet, based on the rumors, will be additive, and not a replacement for existing devices. If you have a MacBook, or a Mac, or an iPhone, you'll want this also. Something that can live in your home, or go with you out the door. Something that can link to other devices around your home, and with a rumored partnership with Electronic Arts , which has seen booming business thanks to its various iPhone Apps, a potentially very powerful handheld gaming platform. Hear that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft?

RBC thinks this could be a $2 billion revenue generator in its first year. Some others suggest 10 million or more will sell in that first year. It's gonna come down to price and partnerships. Merely a "bigger iPhone" won't be enough to sell it. And Apple knows it.

That's why the anticipation is so high. Apple has addressed something in the marketplace that has apparently gone unnoticed by everyone else. But what? That's what Apple has done best. Filling that unmet market need with drool-worthy hardware and software.

Apple plays a strange, dichotomous game of trying everything it can to under-promise and over-deliver on earnings (just look at yesterday!), yet when it comes to new products, the company is masterful at building hype to stratospheric levels. And it wins on both fronts. The pressure certainly is on Apple to deliver, especially with Jobs indicating this is the most important, or most exciting, or most, most, most product Apple has ever released.

We've heard it all before.

Trouble for the naysayers: the hits just keep on coming. And I'm guessing Wednesday should be no different.

Questions?  Comments?