David Prosser: Apple: master of hype

Outlook You have to hand it to Apple's marketing machine: it has become so powerful that the company no longer has to do any of the work in hyping up its launches.

Take the tablet computer that it is expected to unveil next week, about which such a speculative frenzy has developed on the technology blogs that one gossip site, Valleywag, began offering cash rewards to staff prepared to leak pictures of the eagerly waited device: $20,000 for video of it, rising to $50,000 should the footage also feature Apple boss Steve Jobs.

Apple itself would not stoop to the site's level by commenting, but its law firm fired off a warning letter to Valleywag, warning it to stop "offering a bounty for the theft of Apple's trade secrets". It knew, of course, that Valleywag would post the demand online, effectively confirming that the tablet computer is coming next week and sending the hype into overdrive without Apple even lifting a finger.

Yet more proof – as if it were needed – that Apple is smarter than rivals such as Microsoft, which rushed out a prototype of its own tablet computer this month in order to be first. It will nonetheless be drowned in the rush for Mr Jobs' latest creation.