Report: Tablet is Apple's third try, Jobs' top interest

Word that Steve Jobs is now hard at work on an Apple tablet is good news for the tablet and bad news for its delivery date

Word that Steve Jobs is now hard at work on an Apple tablet, which he reportedly deep-sixed twice in the past, may be good news for the tablet and bad news for its delivery date.

Or maybe this is just a bit of Apple propaganda, passed to us by the Wall Street Journal, courtesy of the usual "people familiar with the situation." At this very moment, according to the Journal, Jobs is hard at work micromanaging the marketing of the new tablet.

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Geez, how complex can this be? We all pretty much know what Apple will say about the new tablet or any new product well in advance.

Steve can just take the Apple hype template, change the product name and specs, and pull the trigger. We already know what the device is likely to look like, what the web page will look like, how it will be displayed in stores, and the likely adjectives used to describe it. Even the price is known--always barely tolerable for new Apple anything.

Let me parse this a bit:

  • Steve is on the case and thinks he's got it right this time. That's good.
  • He killed the project twice in the past over battery life and memory, which is supposed to reassure us that those problems are now fixed. That's good, too.
  • He's working on marketing -- not engineering. That's good because Steve isn't an engineer, but mostly because marketing comes after manufacturing.

The story makes it seem the product is farther from shipping than I believe it actually is. If the tablet is to ship before Thanksgiving, you'd think all the marketing elements would be in place and Steve would be taking a victory lap around One Infinite Loop. Nevertheless, I still expect the tablet to ship in time for holiday sales.

There is a troubling aspect to this story, though, and it's the part that has Steve, back from his transplant operation, returning to his old micromanaging ways, now with a group of folks who've learned they can live without him. Or at least have reason to think they can.

That must be a shock, perhaps even an insult, to people who felt they did OK without Daddy Steve's involvement in every little thing.

If the Journal story is accurate -- and they seem to do incredibly when reporting on Steve's activities -- then maybe Apple really can't operate for very long without Steve pulling the strings. Or maybe he's there but not as wanted, needed -- or as appreciated -- as he used to be?

Those issues, if they exist, are for Steve--who has in the past complained of being underappreciated -- and Apple to work out.

So, instead of the psychodrama that is so much a part of Apple, let's get excited about the new tablet. It seems 99 percent real and appears to be coming fairly soon. It should be a hit for the holidays.

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

This story, "Report: Tablet is Apple's third try, Jobs' top interest" was originally published by PCWorld.

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