Because Flurry could reliably "place" the devices on Apple's corporate campus, the firm said it had a fair level of confidence that "we are observing a group of pre-release tablets in testing" in a report released Sunday night. Apple is expected to launch its long-awaited tablet computer on Wednesday.
Through analytics software it has embedded in the roughly 200 apps being tested, Flurry said it can reliably "place" the tablet devices on Apple's corporate campus (verified both by IP addresses that map to Apple servers and GPS coordinates). And unlike iPhones, the 50 apparent tablets in testing don't leave the Cupertino campus.
"It appears that the QA team tests by using live applications in the wild, of which we are in many," noted Peter Farago, Flurry's vice president of marketing. The mix of apps is made up mostly of media and entertainment titles, as opposed to productivity or entertainment programs -- underscoring that the tablet is aimed at consumers.
"In particular, there was a strong trend toward news, books and other kinds of daily media consumption, including streaming music and radio," stated the report. Coupled with recent reports that Apple is in talks with book and newspaper publishers, the apps suggest the tablet will compete with Amazon's Kindle e-reading device.
Across the "tablet" apps Flurry identified, it also found a strong emphasis on social networking, photo sharing and other types of social interaction.
Lending support to rumors that Apple would unveil a new operating system with the tablet, the firm said the new device was running the as-yet-unreleased iPhone OS 3.2. The iPhone and iPod touch currently run on OS 3.1.2. With significant changes expected to the tablet operating system, developers were concerned that it would not support existing iPhone apps.
"However, from the testing we observed, it appears that Apple wants to leverage the 130,000+ applications already available in the App Store on day one for the new device," according to the Flurry report.
What about the rumored launch of OS 4.0 with the tablet package? Farago said that while Flurry detected OS 4.0 in testing, that software is running on "devices (which we can accurately identify as iPhones) that leave campus, whereas these devices with OS 3.2 do not."