Rumor Has It: January Event “Confirmed,” More on the Tablet

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I’m really sorry. I do realize these tablet rumors are becoming tiresome, but you know, don’t you, that they’re going to get a lot worse in the coming weeks as we approach January 26 and Apple’s not-yet-officially-confirmed-but-unofficially-will-definitely-happen media event?

The latest tidbits come from Fox News’ Clayton Morris and (somewhat unexpectedly given how he should know better) an ex-Apple, ex-Google China senior executive. Let’s get started…

Fox’s Clayton Morris writes that he’s been talking with his very own private mole inside Apple HQ about the as-yet unconfirmed media event (first reported by the Financial Times) and has this to offer us:

While nothing official has been handed down from the notoriously tight-lipped company, my source took the Financial Times report one step further by saying this event will focus on the mobility space, meaning we’ll see something related to the iPhone/Touch product line. Could this be the announcement of the mythical Apple tablet we’ve been hearing so much about?

Well if it isn’t, if El Jobso doesn’t announce a tablet, if, instead, the whole event is nothing more than a high-profile sales pitch for a slightly-higher-capacity iPod shuffle, I’ll be torn between shedding bitter tears, or laughing myself sick. Maybe both.

“Focus on the mobility space,” eh? How charmingly vague. You have to wonder why these “sources” are always so…unhelpful. I mean, a real, genuine, worthwhile secret mole should be leaking specific, valuable information, right? That’s what moles are supposed to do, it’s in the job description. But when it comes to Apple’s moles, this just doesn’t happen, does it? Instead, they offer infuriatingly nebulous non-information that seems, if nothing else, perfectly suited to further fuelling speculation, rather than offering, y’know, facts.

I think of these sources as the tech community’s version of spirit mediums who, after (rolling eyes) ‘miraculously’ connecting with the dearly departed, then bafflingly waste that rare and wonderful chance at communication by playing an odd game of Guess Who? “Focus on the mobility space” might as well be “I see a man with thinning hair whose name begins with something sounding like Ste…”

I have a modest theory; these “sources” are tasked with providing fuzzy details to media hacks. It’s all part of a precise marketing strategy, pioneered by Jobs, designed to get the flames of the rumor mill burning brightly. It probably saves a fortune on actual advertising.

A Little Less Vague

Also fanning the flames today is a report by Engadget’s Richard Lai who writes that former Google China president Kai-fu Lee has claimed privileged insider-knowledge of the mythical tablet. Lee’s comments appear on Lee’s microblogging site and, translated by GadgetMix, read in part:

The Apple Tablet looks like a bigger iPhone that sports an awesome UI packed in a beautiful 10.1-inch screen. The tablet combines the functions of both netbook and kindle, an ebook reader. It has virtual keyboard for text entry and a webcam for video conferencing

Lai adds:

We’ve heard a lot of this same noise before: sub-$1000 price, an iPhone-like appearance, 10.1-inch multitouch screen, video conferencing, cellular connectivity, 3D graphics and virtual keyboard. What really got our attention is Lee’s link with Foxconn — the Apple OEM is one of the main contributors to Lee’s post-Google investment venture, Innovation Works, so there’s a good chance that Lee’s spoken to someone overlooking the manufacturing of a certain Apple device.

Kai-fu Lee also adds in his blog that “Steve Jobs will be introducing this product in January,” lending credence to Clayton Morris’ sepulchral source at Cupertino.

Well, that’s it — another day, another round of rumors. Make of them what you will. As far as I can see, we don’t know anything more now than we did when we reached for our hot lava java this morning, but, please, don’t shoot the messenger. At least this specumor (I’m enjoying my portmanteau’s; this one’s a cross between speculation and rumor) is bolstered by what appears to be sort-of-credible evidence.

Honestly, though, January 26 can’t arrive fast enough. I’m thoroughly sick of all this guessjecture.

UPDATE: Looks like my modest theory is correct, if Fake Steve is to be trusted.

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