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Drowning Men Hail The Life Saver

Less than 24 hours away from its official unveiling, Tablet Week continued apace on Tuesday with wild speculation over the impact Apple's new device will have on consumer behavior, publisher strategy, advertiser well-being, and the livelihood of rival device makers.

"We all expect it will be a big deal," write Forrester Research analysts Charles Golvin and James McQuivey in a co-authored column for paidContent.

With the tablet, "Apple may be giving the media industry a kind of time machine -- a chance to undo mistakes of the past," according to The New York Times. What?! Well, media companies, including The Times, arguably backed themselves into a corner by giving their content away for free online. Throwing them a lifeline, Apple will reportedly market the tablet as a way for companies to charge for all that content.

"By marrying its famously slick software and slender designs with the iTunes payment system, Apple could help create a way for media companies to alter the economics and consumer attitudes of the digital era," writes The Times.

A hotbed for tablet rumors in recent months, TechCrunch is predicting that a Barnes & Noble bookstore will be built right into the device -- "either as one of the showcase apps which launches with the device, powering a new book section in iTunes, or integrated directly into the Tablet's e-reader."

Over the past few weeks, Apple has been negotiating a slew of last-minute deals with book publishers, including HarperCollins and McGraw-Hill.

Meanwhile, the application developer community -- largely credited with driving the success of Apple's iPhone -- can't wait to get their hands on the tablet,according to a new survey from Appcelerator. Among about 550 application developers surveyed, more than 90% said they were interested in building at least one app for the tablet in the coming year.

Success, however, is far from guaranteed, as Golvin and McQuivey explain. Indeed, the tablet is "flawed" in several ways. "It's a computer without a keyboard, it's a digital reader with poor battery life and a high price tag, and it's a portable media player that can't fit in a pocket."

The tablet's success, they say, rests on Apple's ability to create a new device category around personal media; guarantee great connectively; and get consumers to rethink the meaning of the word "device.

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