What the #@$% is TabCo?


Millions of people have joined the tablet revolution, but as always, the question remains: What’s next? The mysterious TabCo claims to have the answer — with its circular (maybe) product, and its circular (definitely) marketing.

With more than 18,000 followers on Twitter, the rumor mill is buzzing and people on the social web are are beginning to recognize TabCo as the newest and most aggressively marketed product in the tablet sphere.

Aside from an active YouTube channel and social media accounts, they’re now infamous for skywriting “Forget the fruit – Visit www.whoistabco.com” outside Apple’s WWDC 2011 last month, as shown above.[more]

As far as anyone can tell from the marketing stunts, TabCo is developing a tablet device. Beyond that, their website, Facebook, and Twitter pages are extremely vague about their product and company (some are guessing it’s a front for a more established tablet-maker) — they even decline to identify their CEO.

What we do know: according to the brand’s blog, yes they’re releasing a tablet (that won’t be blue), it will be released August 15th, it claims to be revolutionary, and er…it’s circular?

Perhaps even crazier than the idea of a circular tablet is how this information was made public.

A YouTube video (titled “Empire State of Mind”) that went live today shows a stunt that purports to sneak their brand name and the 8-15-11 launch date onto the Empire State Building, explained with this description:

They say anything’s possible in New York. We like and embrace that attitude. Because of this, we didn’t just want to tell you our launch date; we wanted to show you. When you see what lights up the night in New York, you just might say, “Aha!” We want you to feel the same thrill that our CEO had when an “Aha!” moment inspired the creation of TabCo. And when you come out of the gates with something as over-the-top as writing a message out in the sky, there’s only so much more you can do (fun fact: each letter was actually the size of the Empire State Building). We knew this had to be big—literally. And how much bigger can you get than the tallest building in the most populated city in the US? Just think—if we can pull this off, wait till you see our tablet on August 15th.

Also this morning, ZDnet received a press release (titled “TabCo is Reinventing the Wheel”) from TabCo in a pizza box, featured below. “Pizza is a New York City staple,” their CEO states, “and I personally love the circular shape!” Other news included a first look at partnerships like Twitter, Flickr, Yahoo, IMDB, Bing, Facebook, and MSN. And the pepperoni spelled out the launch date: 8-15-11.

No matter what this tablet turns out to be, expectations are high, judging by those 18,000-plus followers on Twitter (where it was a trending topic today, following its promoted tweets).

The rumor mill is that it’s a stealth marketing campaign by an established tablet-maker, such as Nokia — which TabCo wouldn’t confirm or deny on their Facebook page:

Here’s just one Twitter response out of the many comments, tweets, and discussions regarding TabCo’s ambiguity.

The brand acknowledges the risk it runs with this “who are we? what is it?” guessing game in the “Who is TabCo?” Q&A section of its website:

Q. Wouldn’t it be easier just to launch the product normally instead of going through all this marketing hoopla?

A. Well, sure, but then we would have a bunch of time left over prior to our launch and who knows what trouble we’d get in then!

The FAQ also drops some hints about what makes TabCo’s upcoming tablet unique:

Q: OK, what makes it so darn special?

A: A lot of things. The UI, for one is like nothing else out there. It is predictive and draws its inspiration from the semantic web. The desktop is different, almost a canvas that gives you extensive flexibility to organize your life and work. I could go on but my marketing people would be pissed.

Q: How much will the TabCo tablet cost?

A: It will cost you less than a bottle of 2010 Bordeaux from a first growth producer.

Q: What kind of OS are you running on?

A: An Aha! OS. We think you’ll like it.

Hand it to their marketers (or agency) — they know how to attract attention. But as Philip Czternastek tweeted, if they don’t deliver, then it might as well have been real pizza in that box, and TabCo may find there’s no such thing a a free launch, after all.