Apple announced on Monday it would show off its “latest creation” in San Francisco later this month, an event expected to feature the unveiling of a long-awaited tablet computer.
“Please join Apple on January 27 for a Special Event,” said a typically cryptic e-mail invitation to journalists from the company behind the Macintosh computer, the iPod and the iPhone.
“Come see our latest creation,” said the invitation, which featured colorful blobs of paint surrounding the Apple logo.
The Cupertino, California-based company did not supply any further details about the invitation-only event to be held at 10am Pacific time at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco.
Apple used the same venue in September for an iPod event featuring the first public appearance by Apple chief executive officer Steve Jobs after nearly six months of medical leave during which he underwent a liver transplant.
Silicon Valley has been buzzing for months with rumors that Apple plans to release a touchscreen tablet computer that resembles an oversized iPod Touch.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the color multimedia device will allow users to browse the Web, listen to music, watch movies or TV shows and also serve as an electronic book and newspaper reader.
The Journal said the Apple tablet will have a 10 to 11-inch screen and may begin to ship in March.
Apple routinely refuses to comment on products ahead of their release and — true to form — the company has ignored the rumors sweeping technology blogs, letting anticipation and speculation build.
The specter of an Apple “iTablet” or “iSlate,” however, hovered over the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, with makers of tablet computers jockeying for a head-start in the marketplace.
The computer giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) was among the companies seeking to get a jump on Apple and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer provided a glimpse on stage of an HP “slate” computer during an appearance at the annual gadget show.
But few companies generate the buzz of Apple and a tablet computer would be the company’s first major product release since it came out with the popular iPhone three years ago.
Valleywag.com, a Silicon Valley gossip Web site, recently triggered Apple’s ire by offering rewards of up to US$100,000 for proof that the notoriously secretive company has made a tablet computer.
Valleywag declared Apple the first winner of its contest after receiving a letter from the company’s lawyers.
“We believe you and your company have crossed the line by offering a bounty for the theft of Apple’s trade secrets,” an Apple lawyer said in a copy of the letter posted online by Valleywag.
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