Apple does it again by revealing the long-held secret of a potentially revolutionary product called the iPad.
So why is the majority of the blogosphere and the press in Charlotte and elsewhere killing them over it? Because it was a secret.
Free marketing galore
It's a two-edged sword. The anticipation that is built up around any release of a new Apple product is worth millions in marketing dollars. Apple gets more free press in the months before a new announcement than any other technology company. It's like the kids on Christmas Eve begging to open "just one present now". Millions of people clamor to find out information about what's coming, and the strategic press "leaks" about key pieces of information just fuel the fire.
When the speculation gets out of hand
This time, as in times past, the secrecy resulted in speculation that went too far and ended up hurting the momentum Apple might have had. When Apple leaves the world of hpyer-anxious press and consumers to their own imaginations they end up creating their own definition of what the announcement must be. This sometimes results in descriptions of the most amazing gadget ever created.
The speculation in this case ended up creating a hybrid iPhone/Tablet Computer that had a full version of Max OS, USB connection to external devices, ability to utilize all iPhone apps as well as any other Mac software, would only weigh 1 oz, run faster than a super-computer and make Cinnamon Dolce Latte with Sugar-Free Syrup to boot.
No announcement could live up to those expectations.
The reality of what we got
So how significant was the announcement really? Well, considering the unprecedented success of the iPhone and the popularity of the well-over 100,000 apps created for it, anything building on top of that would be significant.
The announcement revealed an iPhone on steroids that has a 9.5 inch screen, opens up a new market for ebooks and other content, introduces cheaper 3G access than previously available by AT&T, and another new market for software developers to take advantage of developing their apps for the larger screen.
In addition, the iPad crosses the chasm of running iWork applications (documents, spreadsheets, presentations) turning it into more of a work computer and is trending on being a laptop replacement in some circumstances. Not bad for a first release of the device. Contrast that with all the other "tablet computers" that have been out for years. They have floundered and failed to even gain much of a market "buzz".
If Apple can continue its success previously demonstrated with the iPod and iPhone, the iPad will outsell all other tablet-type comptuers and take the tablet computing market out of obscurity and into the mainstream. Based on the momentum Apple has built over recent years with its new devices, a similar result is very likely to follow.