Apple's Next Chapter (PHOTOS)

No other electronics company -- no other technology company, really -- has dominated the past 10 years the way Apple has.

Which, of course, explains the buzz surrounding Apple's latest creation. We haven't seen this level of gadget geekdom since iPod's debut in the fall of 2001... since the iPhone was unveiled in the summer of 2007, since...well, whenever Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in his trademark chic-meets-nerd, jeans-plus-black-turtle-neck get-up, takes the stage and introduces his newest must-have-it gizmo.

Rumor has it that Jobs considers the Tablet/iSlate/iPad as "a personal project" -- "the most important thing" he's ever done.

"It goes without saying that we are living in an increasingly multi-media, multi-platform, mobile-centered environment," Henry Jenkins, a leading media scholar at the University of Southern California, told me in phone interview. Formerly co-director of MIT's Comparative Media Studies program, Jenkins is one of the foremost thinkers in convergence media. "If the rumors about this new product is true -- that you can go online, browse newspapers and magazines, watch video; that it's like a cross between an iPhone and a Mac laptop -- then Apple's most important selling point is that it's created the best media convergence device in the market."

What is about Apple?

Arguably tech's biggest trendsetter, Apple has revolutionized not one but four distinct markets: computers, movies, music and mobile phones. More than that, each product has given birth to an evolving digital-based lifestyle, introducing a new set of vernacular along the way. The iPod gave us the playlist, which we make and control. Who needs to buy a whole album when you can download the only three songs really worth listening to? The iPhone has given us thousands of apps, which prove just how silly and creative and entrepreneurial people can be.

What is it about Jobs?

Named CEO of the decade by Fortune magazine last year, the nearly 55-year-old Jobs is one of the shrewdest marketers and message-makers around. So much so, in fact, that some in the liberal blogosphere joke that Jobs would make an effective chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

What does all the buzz say our tech-driven times?

Not everyone is a MacHead, of course. Microsoft, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard, Google, Facebook and Twitter, have and will continue to leave their marks. Others argue, with justification, that Apple is a closed-off, top-down company -- highly secretive and only interested in what it can control. Nevertheless, under Jobs' guidance, Apple has been instrumental in broadening and expanding our definition of technology -- the way we individually relate to it, the way it feels and the way it looks, the way it fits in our lives.

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