In Tech's Epicenter, Apple's Tablet Hype Starts to Bubble Over

Bloggers, gadget hounds can't wait until Wednesday

By Owen Thomas
|  Tuesday, Jan 26, 2010  |  Updated 2:19 PM PDT
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Mega-Hype Surrounds Apple Announcement

Nick Starr

Crews install a giant Apple poster at the Yerba Buena Center, the site of an Apple product announcement on Wednesday, January 27.

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Mega-Hype Surrounds Apple Announcement

Steve Jobs has the tech world buzzing once again.
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Outside Yerba Buena Center in downtown San Francisco, crowds are already gathering in front of a massive poster advertising Apple's "latest creation," we hear.

That creation, in what's now officially the worst-kept secret in the tech universe, won't be unveiled until tomorrow. But the geeks can't wait.

"I was offered $100 plus possible bail money to march into Yerba Buena and take a photo," said San Franciscan Missy Schwartz on Twitter. "It's an intriguing proposition."

The object of Schwartz's desire, expected to be presented by Apple CEO Steve Jobs tomorrow, is a 10- or 11-inch tablet computer, a sort of supersized iPhone with a touchscreen keyboard, designed for quick consumption of all kinds of media.

One group that's watching avidly: Apple investors. Apple stock is up another six points today, following yesterday's blockbuster earnings. Apple shares have been known to gyrate in the runup to major product announcements.

While San Francisco, 45 miles north of Apple's Silicon Valley headquarters, is the epicenter of the Apple frenzy, the froth has spread worldwide, with tech sites from Italy to Brazil to Japan joining in on the speculation.

Apple, meanwhile, is taking its usual tight-lipped behavior to absurd lengths -- even when it comes to who's attending the announcement tomorrow. Spokeswoman Amy Barney, asked which countries were sending reporters, said, "We haven't made our invite list public."

Well, then! Nothing to do but go to Yerba Buena Center tomorrow and see who shows up. NBC Bay Area's Scott Budman will be live-tweeting from the event.

And the hardcore Apple fans already lining up? They may be disappointed when they don't see anyone walk out of Yerba Buena Center with a tablet in hand. According to the latest rumors -- believe them if you will -- the device won't go on sale until March at the earliest. Or maybe June.

The bad news: That means Apple fans won't stop talking about it for months.

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