While the entire industry is increasingly painted as breathlessly holding their breath for an Apple iTablet sometime in 2010, the New York Times re-affirms they've been working on just such a device since at least 2003:
“It couldn’t be built. The battery life [using PowerPC chips] wasn’t long enough, the graphics performance was not enough to do anything and the components themselves cost more than $500,” said Joshua A. Strickland, a former Apple engineer whose name is on several of the company’s patents for multitouch technology.
More essential than that, even as technological hurdles were cleared over the years, the idea kept getting shot down by Apple CEO Steve Jobs because no one could answer the question of "what they were good for besides surfing the Web in the bathroom".
Ultimately, Apple's experiments with a Safari Pad were leveraged into making and marketing the iPhone instead -- something Jobs, and users, obviously found more compelling.
Arguably, the same problem still exists. Apple's own hardware (like PA Semi chipsets), software (like iTunes LP and iTunes Extra), and industry rumors over print-derived content (like magazines, books, newspapers, etc.) add sub-plots even while the main storyline is still getting fleshed out.
Not lost, however, is that while competitors have tried to evangelize the tablet concept for a decade and received nearly zero traction, the mere thought of a post-iPhone Apple iTablet has achieved so much media buzz the category itself has seen a re-birth from a variety of players.
Apple's would likely have 85,000 iPhone apps (possible 100,000 by launch), which could run, several at a time, each in their own window like on a desktop system, along with full screen versions of Safari, iPod, and whatever i-app shows dynamic "print" media.
If the iTablet ends up being real, and being "All your media in your hands", Apple might have a story of their own finally worth telling. Then we'll just have to see if people buy it.