A few last-minute rumors regarding the Apple tablet and this morning's Apple event hit the wire in the wee hours last night. There's also a photo or two circulating about, though they're photos of a very rough, not at all shiny, prototype.
First, the photos. One is posted above for you, the others are over on Engadget (who got them from a tipster). Engadget's tipster also claims the device has a 10" capacitive touch display, will "look like a larger iPhone with a MacBook-like aluminum back" and will sell for $1,000 direct and $800 with a Verizon data contract when it ships in March. Yep, Verizon. Whether or not that's true, $800 with a two-year data plan is way too expensive for this thing to succeed.
Speaking of carriers, John Gruber has a pretty good track record when it comes to publishing leaks and otherwise predicting Apple product launches. He says the device will either be an AT&T exclusive or be available on both AT&T and VZW. Other reports also claim Verizon Wireless has been prepping retail employees for a hugely important day today, even going so far as to mention a Webcast they'll be watching live at the time of the Apple event. While no live stream of the event is being made publicly available by Apple, it wouldn't shock anyone if they streamed real-time video to business partners via a closed feed.
There's also chatter about both 3G-enabled and WiFi-only versions of the device being released. Personally, I doubt it. Apple likes to keep it simple. If anything, I could see a single, 3G-capable device being sold at both "unlocked" and subsidized price points. But I don't think we'll see Apple confuse matters by shipping different products differentiated only by the inclusion of a 3G radio.
And finally, perhaps the most important bit of all. Let's not forget why Apple has succeeded with iPods and iPhones - and Amazon with its Kindles - while the rest of the world's PC makers have yet to strike gold with their tablet computers: Content is King. Wired has a nice little piece this morning summarizing why today's event will likely be much more about content than hardware, even if a whiz-bang tablet computer is introduced:
“The focus is going to be on content creation and participation,” a technologist with close ties to Apple told Wired.com. “If the tablet is going to be an answer to things like the Kindle, which are purely about consumption, what you’re going to see is Apple is going to be full-blown about creation.”
Count up all of those songs, videos, and apps Apple has sold through the iTunes store to date. Now add to that a big ol' pile of books, newspapers and magazines. And maybe some TV shows sold via a new retail model based around a tablet device. That's where the money is: Content.
And that's why folks like the NYTimes and Barnes and Noble are giddy with anticipation right now while others, like Amazon, are likely very nervously sipping their morning coffee.