iPad Mania: Sneak Peek at Apple's Latest Creation

Apple's latest hype machine hits shelves Saturday.

March 31, 2010— -- It's early morning and Apple has invited us behind locked doors inside a store that hasn't opened for a private showing of the much-anticipated iPad.

This is the first glimpse since the device was announced back in January.

Our sneak peak included a look at applications, better known as apps, from developers in Los Angeles and Seattle.

Meanwhile, Apple reps tote the otherwise secret iPads around in a padded black case, always worried that someone will see.

The half-inch thick device has a beautifully vibrant screen which was put to the test for us with a new app that replicates a hi-tech piano. It shows off the "multi-touch" screen—allowing users to touch various portions of the iPad at once and play musical notes—even play a duet with an iPad user connected online anywhere in the world. We watched games being demoed that allow users to reach out and turn doorknobs on the screen by hand—another benefit of the multi-touch screen that consumers will recognize as essentially just like an oversized iphone.

The hype over the iPad is already in overdrive, but this isn't just about Apple. An entire industry is now attached to it in the form of all those downloadable programs known as "apps."

"We started off developing for the iPhone with a core team of people and that core team of people has grown," says Mark Hickey of Game Loft. "We have 900 people working on iPhone, iPod, iTouch and iPad games and that's in the span of 18 months."

That means a whole other industry has been born and it's quite a lucrative one.

Those 99-cent app downloads really add up.

"They may not cost a lot," says Ed Allard, the Head of Game Development at PopCap Games, "But there's an awful lot of energy and effort that goes into developing every single app in the app store and really it's just abuot reaching a large, large number of people."

Take Ge Wang for example, a Stanford professor who came up with an idea to play a flute-like instrument on the iPhone two years ago.

Today, he has a company called Smule that's made millions from that one idea. He's working on a piano for the iPad he hopes will bring his startup business millions more.

"I think one thing not to be underestimated is really kind of the critical mass and the scale of mobile devices of the iPhone and perhaps soon the iPad," says Wang.

David Roberts, CEO of PopCap Games, says it's created a whole new way of thinking when it comes to gaming.

"It's amazing," he says, "We can sell hundreds of thousands of units in just a few weeks...millions of units overtime...that's a lot of people who are exposed to our games."

Apple is famous for its ability to keep new products secret.

And that doesn't just mean the general public.

It turns out that most of the companies developing apps for the iPad still haven't actually gotten their hands on one.

"It's a big challenge," says Allard, "It's absolutely a difficult challenge to develop for a device we haven't really played with."

Whether the iPad is a big seller or not, the world of apps has already taken off, going from a non-existent industry to an estimated $6 billion behemoth this year.