The Apple Tablet & Internet Hype

Over the past 2 weeks or so the tech news websites have been all the rage about two things: Google’s Nexus One and Apple’s tablet computer.  The Nexus One exists, people have seen it, handled it, taken pictures of it, written reviews on it.  Apple’s tablet however continues to be nothing more than rumor.

Sure, there’s lots of evidence that it might exist.  Apple themselves filed for a patent for a table like device years ago.  But the problem is, people seem to be dead sure it’s coming out.  Just like they were dead sure at MacWorld last year, and in January 2009 before that.  Ever since the iPhone people have been “predicting” the Apple tablet.  However, since the month has flipped to January there has been tons more coverage on the device.  A device that doesn’t actually exist yet.  There’s been so much coverage that even the Wall Street Journal has written on it, stating dates for both an announcement and shipping.

Apple has a reputation for causing excitement in their products, even those that don’t definitely exist yet.  Like I said, the rumored Apple tablet has been rumored since the introduction of the iPhone.  But there in lies the problem.  It’s a rumor.  Still is.  Until someone can grab a picture of the blasted thing, it is nothing more than a figment of our imagination.  And this is where I find issue.  Sure, sites like Engadget feed on product rumors.  That’s their proverbial bread and butter.  But when the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and other non-blog oriented news outlets start feeding the rumor mill, I take issue.  When I read a blog, it’s a blog.  Regardless if it’s a popular one, there is always the chance that what they’re reporting is based solely on conjecture, rumor, or just word of mouth.  In other words, I expect that it could turn out to be a hoax, misinformation, or something else erroneous (that doesn’t mean that everything these sites discuss lacks proof, evidence, and actual fact).  But when a site like the Wall Street Journal, something that is considered a “reputable” news source,  starts playing along to me it brings it more into reality.  It means that more people will read it, it means more people will think its true.

When you compare the Nexus One hype to the Apple tablet hype the main difference is that the Nexus One exists.  We’ve see it.  Google employees have spoken out about it.  People outside Google have touched it, played with it.  The Apple tablet is still nothing more than a patent application, and some non-Apple photoshopped mockups.  See the difference?

Now, do I think the Apple tablet exists?  Yes, I think somewhere within Apple’s walls, there is a tablet.  There might even be a prototype, and they might have already shipped build plans off to China to have them built.  But, as with anything Apple, nothing is certain until Steve Jobs gets on a stage and says “Hey, here it is” because until then it’s not real.  Apple has pulled entire product announcements before, so it’s always helpful to keep that in mind as we dream of new Apple devices.

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