Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What will Apple Unveil Today?

Shortly after 1 p.m. ET today, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs is expected to step onto a stage in San Francisco and lift the veil on what may be the most anticipated tech product of the year.

Famous for its culture of secrecy about new gadgets, Apple has given few hints about what it will announce. Invitations to the event merely read, "Come see our latest creation."

But an escalating stream of rumors and leaks, mostly from Apple's looser-lipped partners, suggest the Cupertino, California-based company will introduce a touch-screen "tablet" or "slate" computer -- sort of a missing link between a laptop and a smartphone.

Bloggers and other industry observers are expecting a slender wireless device that will have a 10-inch screen, cost less than $1,000 and be designed for reading, gaming, Web surfing and other pursuits.

The most likely candidates for the device's name are the iPad and iSlate -- although Apple has secured domain names and property rights for several other names that don't currently have products to go with them.

Like an iPhone, the device is reported to have 3G and Wi-Fi connections and run applications available through Apple's App Store in iTunes. It's also expected to shake up the e-reader market by displaying books and newspaper and magazine articles on its color screen.

In an interview Tuesday with CNBC, McGraw-Hill CEO Harold "Terry" McGraw referred to the mysterious device as a "tablet" and said it will run on an iPhone operating system. McGraw-Hill's textbooks will be available for the device, he said. "The tablet is going to be just really terrific," McGraw said.

Some in the tech community expected an announcement about the tablet earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but Apple decided to forego the event. That's a pattern Jobs and Apple have used in the past for products like the iPhone -- breaking big news when they have the stage to themselves instead of fighting for attention at trade shows.

Another favorite trick of Apple's is to make several smaller announcements at press events before bringing out the big one -- which suggests at least a couple of lesser Apple offerings could be made public Wednesday. A new iPhone operating system (OS 4.0), a new version of the photo, music and video tool iLife and an upgrade to the MacBook Pro are all considered strong possibilities. Observers also predict an update to iTunes could be announced -- possibly to provide new content for the tablet.

So what Apple will reveal is anyones guess but as mentioned there are some strong indicators building the anticipation as always. I personally can't wait until the show starts at 1pm EST today!

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