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Apple Tablet: Wanted Dead or Alive

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Tech blog places tiered bounties for evidence of Apple's tablet.

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And you thought anticipation for Google's (GOOG) Nexus One was intense.

Gawker Tech blog Valleywag has placed a tiered bounty for evidence of Apple's (AAPL) tablet computer. So desperate are the folks at Valleywag over Apple's latest creation that they're willing to put up $100,000 for an hour-long personal test run.

The other pay-for-play offers are as follows: $10,000 for bona fide pictures, $20,000 for video of the system running, and $50,000 for photos or video of one in Steve Jobs's hand.

But in the age of Photoshop (ADBE) and digital fakery, Valleywag insists on only paying out rewards after the product is unveiled -- presumably during a product announcement being held in San Francisco on January 27. High-quality, well-lit evidence is encouraged, as they are the final arbiters on the authenticity of the footage.

Aside from the payout, the other upside to the scheme is the blog's personal guarantee that it will maintain your anonymity during the whole leak. But given how controlled and monitored all information escaping from the confines of the Cupertino Compound is, there's little hope that any leak will lack sufficient clues for Apple to recognize the perpetrator.

The overall legalities of this proposal are slightly dubious -- inciting corporate espionage won't exactly gain the court's leniency -- but at the very least, it's injecting some fun into tech news.

Why should People magazine (TWX) have all the fun paying out more than $4 million for pictures of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's kid? Stake a paparazzo outside Microsoft's (MSFT) headquarters to catch a glimpse of Xbox 360's Project Natal in action. Pay off someone from Activision Blizzard (ATVI) to make a copy of Starcraft II. Are there really no loose cannons at Amazon (AMZN) who couldn't be tempted to smuggle a color-capable Kindle prototype under their shirt and hightail it to the press?

It's about time tech geeks had just as much fun as star-seeking readers of People have. Thanks, Valleywag.

Update 4pm: Well, that didn't last long. Valleywag has been issued a Cease and Desist notice from Michael Spillner, a lawyer representing Apple. The letter requests the Scavenger Hunt be shut down and removed from the site. In turn, Valleywag interprets the legal matter as an indirect confirmation that the Apple Tablet does, in fact, exist and is remaining open to any photographic or video evidence of the highly coveted product -- as long as they "stay within the bounds of the law."

And with that, the Scavenger Hunt continues.

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