Is that really the name Steve Jobs has chosen for his next computing device?

Whois record for Source: MacRumors

MacRumors Arnold Kim and TechCrunch‘s Robin Wauters did some serious detective work over the Christmas holiday.

Working independently, they have made a strong — but not definitive — case that Apple AAPL is preparing to name its long-awaited tablet computer the “iSlate.”

The evidence, should you care to follow its twists and turns, is here, here and here.

All this really means is that if Steve Jobs decides he likes the name iSlate, it’s his to use. It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ruled out iPad, iTab, iTablet, iPod tablet, iBook, MacBook touch, or any of the other suggestions put forward over the past year or so.

Why does anybody care? Because, as TechCrunch’s MG Siegler suggested Friday in The Wonder of Apple’s Tablet, what Jobs is performing is a high-wire act that you can’t help watching, especially if you think he might fall. As Siegler puts it:

“Apple commands attention in the consumer space because more often than not, they nail it. Going deeper, Apple is not afraid to step outside of the traditional comfort zones to try to create a new product — even if others have failed there before, as is the case with tablets. While this stirs skepticism in some, in many more people, it creates a sense of wonder. What if Apple can do it right this time? It’s exciting partially because it’s no sure thing. It’s exciting because the payoff is potentially huge. By this time next year, we may have a whole new genre of computing. It’s an undiscovered country.”

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]