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Tuesday, 19 January 2010 07:41

Apple confirms January 27 event

Apple's definitely announcing something later this month - but what? Presumably it's the long-expected tablet...

Speculation has been rife that Apple would announce its near-mythical tablet computer on or around January 27 ever since someone spotted an anonymous booking covering that date at one of Apple's favoured launch venues.

Lo and behold, Apple has invited the media to an event at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, just across the street from the Moscone Center (home of Macworld Expo, which this year runs from February 11 to 13).

The invitation itself - "Come see our latest creation" - gives practically no clues about what's being revealed.

The graphic design involves splashes of colour, which doesn't add much either.

My guess? It is the iTablet/iSlate, and Apple will be promoting its ability to display electronic versions of books and magazines in full colour, unlike most of the existing ebook readers such as the Kindle.

I don't expect for a minute that will be the product's only function, although a number of publishers have reportedly been negotiating with Apple to put their content on the new device, presumably with sales through a new section of the iTunes Store.

What's in it for publishers - and for owners, come to that? Please read on.

There have been reports that Apple is prepared to let publishers keep a larger share of the cover price than they get from Amazon for Kindle editions.

It is also suggested that Apple will allow publishers to set their own prices rather than insisting on an aggressive $US9.99 for current best sellers. After all, Apple eventually caved in to pressure from the music companies to do away with its original 'one price fits all' model for the iTunes Store.

One possibility is that Apple will provide a system for 'e-book extras' such as video clips and other multimedia content. The partners would certainly need to provide some significant amount of bonus material to justify a price that isn't substantially lower than a paper edition.

Apart from being an e-book reader, what else might the device do?

It's hard to see it being anything less than a full multimedia player, with all the functionality of an iPod touch. (Some reports say key iPhone/iPod developers have been briefed on creating apps for the device).

I'd also expect to see Apple TV style streaming of video content stored on a Mac or Windows PC, and I'd really like to see this include non-iTunes content such as recordings made using the EyeTV software (without having to export them first).

Anyway, we'll find out what's really happening next week. Though there are suggestions that delivery won't happen for another couple of months.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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