Apple Travels Down Under to Shop Mysterious Tablet

If the rumored Apple tablet isn't the greatest thing since Gutenberg's printing press, we'll all be terribly disappointed. The mythical device — which may or may not be an oversized iPod, a newfangled netbook, a Kindle killer, or a newspaper savior — is the Loch Ness Monster of high tech: a debated, mythical creature that appears only in blurry photos from dubious sources.

Today's obligatory tablet rumor comes from the Sydney Morning Herald's Asher Moses, who reports that Apple is in talks with media outlets in Australia:

"Apple has sent specifications of the device to Australian media companies in an effort to sound out whether they would be interested in delivering their content to the tablet. None would speak about the device on the record," Moses writes.

The Sydney report reaffirms popular wisdom concerning the tablet's shape and size: It's a slate-like device that fits in a backpack, briefcase, or handbag — but not in your pocket. It's a media player, Web browser, and e-book reader — but not a full-fledged laptop.

The bad news: It won't appear until next year. Earlier rumors, some as recent as August, had predicted a November launch for the tablet, but all signs now indicate otherwise. Gizmodo reported Tuesday that Apple's product lineup is set for the 2009 holiday season. If true, the Magic Mouse — not the tablet — will be the cleverest device to scurry out of Cupertino by Xmas.

Still don't believe the Apple tablet is real? Check out my colleague Ian Paul's account of a speech by New York Times' executive editor Bill Keller, who may have inadvertently preannounced the Apple tablet during a mid-October talk with the Times' digital staff.

Personally, I'm very curious as to how Apple will price the tablet. If it turns out to be a consumer electronics device, rumored prices in the $800 range seem far too high. How much would you pay?

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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