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McGraw-Hill: Tablet will be based on iPhone OS

The publisher's top executive, Chairman and CEO Terry McGraw, also tells CNBC that there will be college textbooks on the device.

On the eve of Apple's expected tablet announcement, the top executive at a major book publisher has stolen a bit of Apple's thunder.

During a live taping on CNBC on Tuesday, McGraw-Hill Chairman and CEO Terry McGraw said the tablet will be introduced tomorrow, will have college textbooks on it, and will be based on the iPhone OS. Here's what he told CNBC:

Yeah, very exciting. Yes, they'll make their announcement tomorrow on this one. We have worked with Apple for quite a while, and the tablet is going to be based on the iPhone operating system, and so it will be transferable.

So what you are going to be able to do now is, we have a consortium of e-books. And we have 95 percent of all our materials that are in e-book format on that one. So now, with the tablet, you're going to open up the higher-education market, the professional market. The tablet is going to be just really terrific.

All of those are the kinds of details Steve Jobs typically leaves for himself to reveal. For those unfamiliar with the Apple way: the company has basically zero tolerance for talking about products before they're ready. In other words, we can assume that McGraw isn't getting a holiday card from Jobs this year. In an incident that's become almost legendary in the Apple community, back in 2000, graphics chipmaker ATI, now owned by AMD, issued a press release that made reference to a Power Mac yet to be introduced by Apple. Jobs was said to be livid and omitted any mention of ATI from his keynote.

Nevertheless, McGraw is the first named source offering actual confirmation of the operating system and specific content for the device, namely textbooks. From all the other unnamed sources talking to the press, we already have a good idea that there will be magazine, book, and newspaper content as well.

It's been a guessing game as to whether Apple would simply adapt iPhone OS for the tablet or go to a new operating system for the device. Now that we know it's iPhone OS, that also pretty much guarantees that we'll get a peek at the new operating system for the iPhone on Wednesday as well.

Skip ahead to 02:50 in the video on the right to hear McGraw talk tablet.