Can Apple’s tablet fail?

If all the rumours are to be believed, on Wednesday Steve Jobs will appear on stage in a pink tutu, riding bareback on a zebra-striped unicorn and bra


Naturally, all this is very exciting. Apple’s product launches create more buzz than a bee colony’s doorbell. And the company has proved it can invent truly game-changing technology. iPod, iPhone, they conquered.


So when Jobs pulls the expected tablet from the hat (or manilla envelope) at Wedsnesday’s event, it will create waves of frenzied media activity, building into a tsunami of pre-release hype.


But what if it’s not that good? What if Apple has misread geeks’ needs? What if we still have a preference for physical keyboards?


What if the iSlate fails?


It’s not out of the question. And it wouldn’t be the first time Apple launched a product that didn’t begin a paradigm shift.


Take the MacBook Air. Pretty: yes. Thin: very. Game-changing: nope, most of us went and bought a cheaper, more powerful laptop. Of course, we couldn’t put them in the mail. But who wants to post a laptop?


If the iSlate is going to follow in its i-prefixed ancestors’ footsteps, it needs to offer more than shiny design. The iPod has iTunes and the iPhone has the App Store.


The larger format of the iSlate could kick-start an era of digital magazine and newspaper subscriptions. It may revolutionize the way we commicate with computers.


Or it might be the world’s biggest electronic white elephant. In a tutu.


Don’t forget to follow the Apple launch live on from 5pm on 27 January.