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Monday, September 03, 2007, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Major electronics launch; new iPods & iPhones; Apple lobbying

Target is prepping for a major product introduction timed with Apple's music-focused special event, AppleInsider has learned. Meanwhile, other sources have also let slip signs of impending iPod and iPhone updates.

Target gears up for new iPod launches

An internal note distributed to employees of the large retailer's electronics department is advising them to be ready for an unknown, but very significant, product announcement on Wednesday for which Target will be one of the first resellers.

In a copy provided to AppleInsider, the memo is vague and notes that one or more "high retail" (high profile) and "high theft" products will ship directly to Target outlets almost immediately after their formal introduction on September 5th. The products would arrive between Thursday and Saturday, but would be of sufficiently high priority that it might reach shops outside of normal hours at the shipping docks, Target said.

While there is no name attached to the manufacturer of the products involved in the launch, it wouldn't take much speculation to link Target's preparations with Apple's special event on Wednesday, which is expected to introduce several next-generation iPods.

Newspaper claims iPhone nano, iPod Wi-Fi in the pipeline

Citing documents obtained by a company partnered with Apple, the Washington Post's Sam Diaz claimed in a weekend article that at least two frequently rumored devices were planned for the "coming months."

One of these would be a touchscreen iPod with Wi-Fi, Diaz said. But the Cupertino, Calif.-based company was also planning an "iPhone nano," which would drop prices below the $500 mark of the current iPhone.

Diaz provided no details of when either product would arrive in stores, but has made his claims just ahead of Apple's September 5th iPod-related event. The update also reinforces AppleInsider's reliable sources which pointed to a smaller iPhone likely to ship sometime in the fall.

iPod case maker preps for new video iPod

In one of the more unusual accessory announcements of recent years, Uniea has revealed a new hard leather case that would protect the new, shorter video capable iPod — even though the iPod itself is still a mystery.

Simply listed as a Hard Protective Leather Case "for new iPod," the design leaked to iLounge would accommodate a wide, larger than 2-inch screen but a click wheel identical to that of the iPod nano. Its launch date is unknown but will see several different color variants sell for $30 each.

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Apple spends $720K in federal lobbying

Public disclosures filed in mid-August have revealed that Apple has spent a relatively modest $720,000 in the first half of this year promoting bills in the US House of Congress.

Of the initiatives, the company's highest-profile push included a patent reform bill that would allow companies to contest the validity of patents after they've been granted, preventing some of the infringement lawsuits that affect Apple and other technology firms.

Extra political spending was also channeled towards bills that would boost technology education and cut taxes for product research and development.