Chosen few will get iPad this Thursday

Apple's legion of tame hacks will be getting a present in the post this Thursday.

Silicon Alley Insider reckons that Apple is preparing to ship review models of its eagerly-anticipated tablet computer, the iPad, to an elite group of Apple-supporting journalists about a week before the initial launch, giving them just enough time to convince themselves that the self-proclaimed magical device is just that.

There will, of course, be bellowings of dissent from every other Apple-bating blogger on the planet.

Conspiracy theories will be espoused by the kind of ill-informed research-phobics who were still openly attacking Apple's inability to produce a multi-button mouse years after the company did exactly that with the Mighty Mouse.

These same people will be screaming bloody murder about the fact that Apple only sends review products to those writers who are almost guaranteed to say nice things about them.

Apple's marketing hype machine will be roundly criticised for being over the top. But it's not Apple which generates the hype. Just look at the millions of words written about an as yet unannounced tablet device months before Apple even mentioned the word iPad.

Steve Jobs' cleverest marketing trick is his company's absolute secrecy. Tech hacks, on the other hand, hate secrets. Leaks are our life blood. Rumours are our bread and butter. Conjecture is the air that we breathe. Apple starves us of all of these things and, as a side effect, makes us crave that missing information all the more.

When Jobs' rings his launch bell, the press pack starts to slobber like Pavlov's pooches.

And when he's handing out the rewards, he's highly unlikely to give the goodies to the dogs which have bitten him in the past, is he?

Now, can we have an iPad to play with please Steve?