Apple is planning an unveiling in January for an unspecified product, a rumor asserted Tuesday evening. As part of a leak whose sources back reports of an iTunes TV subscription plan, the Financial Times claims that Apple is "preparing an announcement" for next month. The newspaper says it has no knowledge of what the event would include but speculates that the often-rumored tablet could make its appearance.
Until it decided to opt out for 2010, the Mac designer had often used Macworld San Francisco each January to unveil new hardware or software. In recent years this had most often involved new versions of iLife and iWork but also entirely new products, such as the iPhone and MacBook Air, as well as major revisions to previous computers. The company has declined to attend CES or other events and usually runs its own.
A January unveiling casts some doubt on a tablet as the prior rumor had said the tablet would launch in March, while another had it in mass production for February. However, if repeated claims of built-in 3G have merit, Apple may choose an early unveiling to prevent the FCC from spoiling its plans, much as with iPhone releases. This year Apple was successful in preventing the FCC from publishing data until just after the iPhone 3GS was available.
Touching on the TV strategy, the sources claim that Time Warner's TBS and Viacom have so far been "unconvinced" by Apple's proposal. Many have expected stiff resistance to a flat-rate iTunes TV viewing plan from studios that are partnered with a cable or satellite network, such as Time Warner and Comcast's NBC, as it would let customers drop their cable TV service in favor of the cheaper, more portable alternative.
Unnamed book publisher "sector executives" are also understood to have been courted about the Apple tablet. Again, the story supports talk of an e-book focus for the tablet as Apple hopes to use the large screen for reading in addition to video, apps and the web. [image via Berg]