If reports of Apple's plans to release a long-rumored tablet PC sometime in Spring come true, it could either mean a no-holds-barred fight with Amazon's Kindle over the future of the e-reader or yet another pie-in-the-sky.
The problem with predicting which of these two extreme views of the future will pan out is that there is not enough of a past on which to base the prediction.
Several reports, all quoting from the same analysis released by Oppenheimer analyst Yari Reiner, write that Apple could release its tablet PC this coming Spring. Many of those reports say that Apple is lining up potential publishers, a move predicted to turn the device into a "Kindle Killer."
There have already been several devices with the "Kindle Killer" tag, including the Barnes & Nobel Nook and the Sony Reader and the Plastic Logic Que. However, few of them have even hit the market let alone put the Kindle out to pasture.
Now (supposedly) along comes Apple with a new "Kindle Killer." That is a lot of expectation laid on a device which no one has ever seen outside of a few Apple-related folks.
It's even more of a stretch to call it a "Kindle Killer" when one looks at the fact that the rumored Apple tablet PC is rumored to be a tablet PC.
A tablet PC is not an e-reader in the sense that a Kindle or a Nook is. An e-reader is aimed at one task: reading electronic documents. Tablet PCs, such as those from companies like Toshiba, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, and others, are actual PCs which, with the right software, can perform some pretty useful tasks besides letting people read downloaded novels.
Not even Apple would have the audacity to charge the rumored $1,000 or more for an e-reader.
But the frenzied speculation about Apple's plans will continue. It will create a lot of buzz, it will move a lot of stock (Apple up 8 percent and Amazon down 3 percent on Wednesday), and it will cause Apple fanboys much angst.
Most of all, it will eliminate the need for Apple to talk about its upcoming plans or spend money on marketing. Instead, Apple will let the rest of the IT industry do the talking.