Apple gives select developers early access to iPads [Rumor]

Businessweek is reporting a rather bizarre rumour that “elite developers” have been given early access to iPad hardware for testing and development of Apps prior to the official debut of the device. Colour me officially jealous!

The conditions for these loans is straight out of Mission Impossible:

Would-be testers of the tablet-style computer, due to be released Apr. 3, must promise to keep it isolated in a room with blacked-out windows, according to four people familiar with the more than 10-page pact that bars partners from disclosing information about the iPad. To ensure that it can’t be removed, the iPad must also remain tethered to a fixed object, said the people, who asked not to be named because their plans for the iPad have not been made public. Apple won’t send out an iPad until potential partners send photographic evidence that they’ve complied.

As others have speculated, what is Apple trying to hide at this stage? Some wonder if there are some hardware specifics we are not aware of yet. This seems highly unlikely.

The OS could still be in flux. But with only a couple of weeks to go before the iPad is in the wild, and very minor updates being made to the SDK that most registered developers have access to, and no significant leaks from that area, that too seems unlikely.

Of course it has got us all talking about the iPad again. Some rumours have the OS coming with a late addition in the form of multi-tasking. Again, I think this is unlikely at this stage.

My guess, and it’s only a guess, is this has something to do with content, and testing of it’s delivery, and for writing of reviews that can hit the press around the time of launch.

Apparently the WSJ is one of the companies who has the iPad under lock and key. Which lends some credence to my theory. Perhaps there is a smattering of “reviewers” in amongst these “elite devs”. That explanation, or content delivery testing, matches more with the wording of the quote above.

Anyone else got any theories? Let us know in the comments…

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Stephen NorthcottApple gives select developers early access to iPads [Rumor]