Apple's biggest announcement since the original iPhone is just around the corner. With all the speculation and images - both blurry and mocked up - we all have some idea of what kind of form the iTablet/iSlate/iPad is going to take.
The question is though, just what will the Apple tablet be able to do? If this is a connected tablet at least for the home, if not for out and about as well, then exactly what kind of functional space is it designed to fill in people's lives? We asked industry experts in gaming, film, music, newspaper and magazine publishing and books as well. This is what they told us:
The newspaper man
"When Apple adds to what is becoming a Kindler's List of content platforms, it will be easy for newspapers to be distracted by the technology. Anything that gets the message across is great, but it's what is being provided to the end user is important. It will be no use just reformatting our existing content. Editors and designers will have to change the way they present and structure a story. Ideally for the newspaper industry the new product will be light and flexible, just like paper. Maybe that's coming next, meanwhile we have to overcome the paywall issue. It's not going to be easy getting the attitudes to change at the same speed as the technology. But that has always been the battle". David Wadmore - editorial consultant with News International
The music man
"Whatever Steve Jobs holds over his head it will be brilliant and game changing, like the ipod with itunes which revolutionised the music world the islate/itablet/ibook - whatever it is called, it will not be just a piece of hardware it will be an ecosystem that will give a full end to end solution challenging the Kindle, PC tablets, books, music, video and games markets. The App Store has been limited to the real estate offered by the iphone, just imagine the possibilities that apps for this device will have. I don't yet know what it will be but I know I want one already and that is the magic of Apple.
So what could it be: large, touch sensitive HD quality screen with solid state memory with low power usage (but not low enough), a tablet paradigm that starts as a tablet and not a PC with tablet functionality added as an after thought. Wi Fi enabled of course but built in 3G would be outstanding. Full integration to itunes and your mobileme with the new big screen App Store, plus a great book reader, magazine reader, web browser, emailer, calendar etc etc. Will it have a pen and understand writing? Yes I should think so (but that may get left on the drawing board) but the clever bit as always will be the back-end integration to get your books, music, video and if you really have to work. And finally there will be some wow that none of us have thought about". Steve Purdham - CEO of We7
The movie guy
"I expect that Apple will unveil a device that creates a new "category". We all know that many people spend 5 - 7 hours a day with various media and now with the explosion of social media the experience becomes even more tied together. The engineers in Cupertino have already introduced devices into the market that enable seamless content experiences and now they have the opportunity to create a smart portable networked device that will be centred around a full compliment of professional content alongside personal media...think videos, photos, text, audio recordings, etc... Our industry - professional grade exclusive and original video centric content optimized for the 4th screen - will find an immediate new home. Long Live Video!" Karol Martesko-Fenster - SVP general manager of Babelgum's Film Division
The mobile game industry guy
"Today Apple will reveal its new tablet. This will partially be in response to the sudden growth and demand in netbooks - a market which arguably they have been left out of. Most likely they will use the tablet to create a new market leveraging some of the technology which has made the iPhone so successful.
The impact on applications development is less clear. Apple has characteristically been successful with high end, premium products. The tablet will most likely be no exception. A high end, touch screen device designed for users looking to stay connected, watch movies, check emails and play casual online games - its pricing will be high. We believe this will be a $1000+ toy targeting high end users in developed markets. As such it will be a profitable but niche product that will wow users but won't provide tons of application downloads for developers. As such it won't see much of an impact on the mobile applications market as we see it today". Patrick Mork - VP marketing, GetJar
The music journalist
"In terms of the music industry, I’m not sure what effect it may or may not have. Apple have obviously caused, or at least been at the forefront of numerous developments in music over the last eight or nine years. But from what I’ve seen, the iTablet looks like something that will have a greater effect on the media and film industries.
However, if Apple launch their rumoured cloud-based music service with the iTablet, that could indeed be the start of something big. It’s not a new idea, but being automatically coupled with your iTunes library could be the thing that causes so-called ‘locker’ services to take off. It’s not really an iTablet innovation in itself, but that’s what I’ll be looking out for". Andy Malt - editor of CMU Daily
The man in film PR
"What we're expecting is a tablet which is touchscreen. Somewhere between $700-$1000 and it should be used as a home computer, but perhaps fulfilling some business user needs too.
From Way To Blue's point of view, we're all on PCs here but many in the film industry do use Macs for editing, but I can't see that the tablet would be a powerful enough machine, rather than the heavier iMacs, for functionality like that. So, for the first version, it seems like it'll be more of a vanity gadget for now, just as the first iPhone was, but it might be something that film makers eventually turn to.
As for consumers, well any new device that people can watch films on is appealing to the industry. Obviously, you can already watch all sorts of movie content on your iPhone, but films like Avatar aren't really going to work on a 3.5-inch screen or even a bigger tablet. There might be a time where the film industry does make content specifically for smaller mobile devices but then there would be issues of how to commercialise it and that's not what it's adept at right now. At the moment, the movie business is concerned with the windows between release dates on the cinema, on video and online. What we'll probably see next is all these things happening at the same time". Adam Rubins - international director, Way to Blue
The mobile content specialist
"Commentators in the industry have speculated that Apple will be launching its first ‘tablet’ device later today. Once confirmed, the ‘Apple Slate’ will tangibly demonstrate how mobile entertainment is rapidly evolving beyond the smartphone. This new format is a key milestone in positioning the mobile connected device at the centre of consumers’ content experience. This development also fuels the opportunity for books to emerge as a new and popular content category and will allow media publishers to further experiment with micro-payments, subscription service models and new payment methods for paid for content". Andrew Bud - Mobile Entertainment Forum chair and executive chairman of mBlox
And what do you make of today's big event? Will there be any surprise software, hardware or service features of the device? How might it affect your industry and how do you feel about what our experts have said? Let us know in the comments.