Apple’s iPad/iTablet will be announced on January 27th, but won’t be purchasable until March…is that right? Won’t their presentation seem a little anticlimactic, given all the informational hubbub so far?

An HE reader “used to sell a lot of Apple computers,” he claims, “so I know how their supply chain and marketing strategies have worked because they haven’t changed. I have no inside knowlege whatsoever, and have just been putting together the rumors like any other outsider.” But from all the sites and the consistencies and inconsistencies, here are his predictions:

1. What it is:

“A 10.1 inch multitouch screen that will act like the iPhone screen.

“It will have one button like the iPhone.

“It will have a video/still camera that’ll probably be 5 megapixels that will do video chat.

“It will be Wifi enabled.

“It will have 3g capability that you will have to pay a monthly charge for through the Itunes store.

“It won’t make calls (that would eat into iPhone market)

“It will run an operating system similar to the iPhone operating system, just expanded with options for filesaving like a Mac does.

“It will not run Snow Leopard or any other laptop/desktop Mac OS (which would eat into the laptop market).

“It will have the same iPod connector.

“It will have every major magazine or newspaper distributed as an application.

“There will be a new Ebook section on the Itunes site if they don’t go out and add an IBook site just to cater to the book business.

“It will have an aluminum backing similar to the current iPhone.

“It won’t have a battery you can replace (this is so that it will eventually DIE and you will have to replace it, like every iPod and iPhone).

“It will have the most gorgeous HD capable display you will see on anything out there.

There will most likely be three versions: Entry Level $599/ 32gb hdd, $699/64gb hdd, and a $899 with additional features and a larger HDD.

“The additional features will most likely be a mobile version of IWORK, Apple’s office suite that is the only thing they haven’t beaten Gates with.

“IWORK will be available as an application, but Microsoft Word will not obviously.

It will have a memory card reader slot, but no CD’s obviously.”

2. What it means for Apple::

“Apple has marketed itself as the primary consumer computing company. If there was a gap in their product offering, this is it.

“It makes them the first and last legitimate destination to purchase any book, magazine, newspaper — the key element being textbooks.

“Apple did it with music. They’re gaining momentum (slowly) with TV and film. But whatever momentum the TV and film had will be pedestrian to the explosion of consumption of print media through the iPad. Print media is already limited based on the form of the user interface. It will be cheaper and easier to consume, and the user experience will be better.

“This is a by-product, but Apple cares a lot about the environment. How much can they play up the fact that they are saving forests by enabling digital versions so people don’t have to print or recycle paper?

“The odds of them screwing up are astronomical. All they really have to do is get an iPhone and a Macbook Pro to have sex and you will have the most portable and most enjoyable content delivery system in the world.

3. What it means for us as a society:

“It gives a heart transplant to journalism as an industry and public service. People need reporting, and when the print media no longer has to pay for pulp and printing presses (which they are currently doing in addition to their current digital formats) they will have more money to compete for reporters who will improve the overall finished product. We all know about the death of newspapers from David Simon and The Wire.

“Whatever was holding back the idea of telecommuting isn’t anymore.

Any media you want will be available by a subscription service. NBC on demand? $5 per month. NYTimes? $5 per month. Whatever else you can think of.

“Just like the iPod became your entire CD collection, you will be able to carry around your entire DVD collection on a viewable form that exceeds or rivals your current viewing situation. If you have a top end 50” HDTV with a Blu-ray player that you watch in surround sound from 10 feet away, it will look the same on 10.1, deliver similar if not equal sound and resolution from 2.5 feet away.

“If it does and these things, and if it performs them in a simple, clean, straightforward way, there is no way that this doesn’t make Apple the one to beat in every major and minor media platform. I think future versions may include some form of Docking system that eventually replaces your cable box and blu-ray player. I don’t think they want a part of the console gaming industry now, but they already have the mobile gaming industry on its toes, but if they want the consoles they can take that too.

“The iPod is 10 years old. Ten years ago, people had CD collections and mobile CD players that were huge. When was the last time you saw one of those things? Ten years from now, its entirely possible that people will look at newspapers, magazines, textbooks, cd’s, dvd’s, cable boxes, stereos, paper notebooks, printed photographs, landline telephones (gone with the advent of the video chat and skype apps). And it will be entirely possible that Apple, while not owning exclusivity in any anti-trust capacity, will effectively own all of those industries. Every school kid could be required to have one in lieu of issuing textbooks.

“Since 1984, Apple has targeted two markets, education and personal consumers. They ignored business computing. What does this do to Microsoft, who is on the verge of another so-so version of Windows, a huge investment in an inferior tablet, and losing marketshare in their business based software? What happens if Apple wants to make a move into that world? With cost effective user-friendly workstations that work with everything you already have and improves it going forward? Whats stopping them?”