Why Apple must never make a tablet

Apple Tablet
Can a real Apple Tablet ever live up to its hype?

Just last month, there was earth-shattering news about the Apple Tablet: it was delayed.

According to DigiTimes, the Tablet would no longer appear in early 2010. Instead, it would come out towards the end of the year.

What makes the story brilliant is that Apple has never, ever said that it's making a tablet, let alone committed to a release date.

In effect, then, DigiTimes might as well have reported this: "The long awaited invasion of Earth by space commandos from the planet Tharg will not happen in March 2010, as widely rumoured. Sources close to the space fleet suggest that the interstellar destroyers will now turn up on a Tuesday, in September, unless it's raining."

It's incredible. An entire industry appears to have sprung up to talk about the Tablet, despite - and we can't stress this enough - nobody outside Apple actually having seen a spec sheet, let alone an actual device.

There are signs that Apple is making a tablet, certainly, but there's no real proof and precious little evidence to back up hurriedly scribbled stories of 9-inch/10-inch/52-inch tablets with LCD/OLED/E-ink displays, powered entirely by the tears of small children and capable of playing 7 billion hours of high definition video on a single charge.

Some, all or none of the stories could be true, but the only person who knows for sure is Steve Jobs - and he ain't telling.

The tech bogeyman

The complete lack of any facts hasn't just caused some strange reporting, though: it's made the Apple Tablet into a 21st-Century bogeyman - but this time the threat is to tech firms rather than naughty kids.

Here's how it works right now. Firm A makes an ebook reader and it's the best ebook reader ever made - but the reviewers and the pundits and the potential purchasers all make frowny faces and say "That's all very well, firm A, but just you wait until the Apple tablet huffs and puffs and blows your house down!"

Firm B makes an extraordinary HD netbook, and everybody says "Wow, that's fantastic! But the Apple Tablet will deliver better battery life and also cut off your tails with a carving knife!"

Firm C makes a super-smart multimedia tablet that delivers astonishing sound quality, makes your penis bigger and cures cancer. "That's great!" the world says. "But the Apple Tablet will bring your ancestors back from the dead, and grind your bones to make Steve Jobs's bread!"

There's no way any device, not even an Apple one, can live up to the hype the long-awaited Apple Tablet has generated. But maybe that's the point. Steve Jobs loves simplicity, removing unnecessary features and paring technology down to its very essence.

What could be more Jobsian than a device that doesn't exist, but nevertheless keeps Apple's rivals in a state of perpetual panic?

The Apple Tablet is Keyser Söze, a constant, terrifying presence that lives in the shadows and may well be a myth. As Verbal Kint put it in the film, "Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him… that was his power."

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.