Flurry, a company that collects online data about ads, claims to have detected Apple's widely anticipated tablet device.
Apple employees keep corporate secrets if they want to keep their jobs, but Apple devices are less guarded.
Some 50 unrecognized Apple devices have been leaking telling data to Flurry, an advertising analytics company, through ad-enabled applications. And Flurry believes the transmitting devices are Apple tablets.
Flurry VP of marketing Peter Farago says in a blog post that because the devices do not leave Apple's Cupertino campus -- consistent with Apple's practice of keeping products secret -- while other unannounced products do, like iPhone's running the unreleased iPhone 4.0 operating system -- he is confident that the data in question comes from Apple's long-rumored tablet.
Apple has not officially announced a tablet device, but it has scheduled a Wednesday media event at which it is expected to reveal just such a device.
Asked whether Apple had contacted Flurry about its data collection, Farago in an e-mail said, "It's unclear to us Apple's position on the analytics, though we have been careful not to reveal too much about the data out of respect to Apple."
Presumably, Apple could block outgoing analytics transmissions on its network if it chose to do so.
Apple's entry into the tablet market is highly anticipated because media companies, having witnessed Apple's recent track record with the iPod and iPhone, believe the iPad, or whatever it ends up being called, will make it easier to sell rich media and games to consumers through Apple's iTunes App Store ecosystem.
While such content can already be published on Web sites in a variety formats and technologies, it can also easily be altered by end users, through ad blocking, or copied. Apple's tablet is expected to be a moderated environment, like the iPhone, that gives more control to publishers than end users.
The tablet is also expected to emphasize touch-based interaction, a move away from the desktop metaphor that has dominated consumer-oriented computing since the original Apple Macintosh was introduced in 1984.
According to Flurry's report, about 200 applications have been observed on these 50 alleged tablets-in-testing, most of which are games or entertainment apps. News and lifestyle apps were also noted.
"With rumors of large newspaper and book publisher deals, combined with its reading-friendly form factor, we speculate that the new Apple tablet will focus heavily on daily media consumption," the company said in its report. "Finally, across all applications detected, there was a strong theme of sharing and/or social interaction including social games, social networking, photo sharing and utilities like file transfer applications."
On Monday, at 2pm PST, Apple plans to announce its Q1 2010 earnings. Many analysts are predicting that the company will report its best quarter ever.
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