"I can’t really say anything, but, let’s just say Steve [Jobs] is extremely happy with the new tablet.”
It's long been known that Apple has had a tablet in the labs for years, and that the iPhone was a result of leveraging technologies experimented with for a "Safari Pad", but Steve Jobs and Apple didn't see a mainstream market for the device and so never released it in its own right. Arguably, they've been just fine with the iPhone and iPod touch filling that niche.
Moreover, the NYT post adds that former Apple employee has told them:
“You will be very surprised how you interact with the new tablet.”
Would that we could stare into its black gloss and will it to do our bidding. Is there an app for that yet?
Anyway, if these rumors have any substance to them, what's changed in Steve Jobs' and Apple's minds? The App Store? The maturing of digital media content so that an iTablet could become the iPod of the next decade?