Apple Tablet Most-Watched Product of 2010, But By Whom?

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There is no question that PC pundits are eagerly awaiting Apple's supposed new tablet, but what about customers? This is a high-risk game and Apple must know it.

Apple is widely believed to be working on a tablet for introduction in early 2010, though the timing may be more flexible than recent rumor suggests.

The company needs to be very sure it has a hit or should start managing customer expectations. If not, anything it does will that falls short of perfection will be considered a failure.

For all the talk, a key mystery remains: What will it take to get people to purchase them? Apple is in the best position to know, based on its experiences with the iPhone and iPod touch and 2 billion downloaded applications.

The challenge is building a device that matches a thin form factor with a color screen, large memory, powerful processor, and long battery life. In addition, it needs to sell for a "popular" price, which seems to be in the $500-$800 range.

It is a tall order and if Apple has any doubts, it would be better to again delay its tablet dreams--as the company has repeatedly done according to the New York Times

My take: Key will be finding applications, such as entertainment, that lend themselves to what amounts to a giant iPod. I have preferred using the term "media pad" to describe what Apple is doing and am coming back to that usage.

Using a tablet as a media player makes good sense and may be enough to sell a couple of million new Apple tablets. Key will be hitting form factor, performance, and battery life expectations. Steve Jobs knows this and has reportedly shelved earlier prototypes.

Apple tablet hype is beginning to spin out of control. If the company is concerned the new device will not live up to incredible expectations, it has not shown it. Maybe it will be perfect, but if it isn't, Apple needs to start telling us what to expect.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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