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Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 05:00 pm PT (08:00 pm ET)

Report: Apple Event set for January 26, 2010

A new report bolsters the rumored January 26 date assigned to an Apple Event planned at Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. The event is widely believed to serve as the debut of the company's new slate as an expansion of its iPhone/iPod touch platform.

The brief report, published by Fox News today, offers additional confirmation of the date first cited by the Financial Times last week.

While the original report indicated that Apple had reserved the space to make "a major product announcement," today's report indicates that sources have first hand knowledge that the event will be associated with a product in the "mobility space."

The rumors certainly aren't any surprise to observers following the trail of evidence pointing to the introduction of what is generally expected to be a 10-inch slate-form factor device running the iPhone OS.

Apple has reported told some of its iPhone developers to prepare their apps to run on a larger device, which is not a major undertaking given the flexible foundation supporting today's iPhone apps. The new slate device is also expected to serve as a medium for a new array of iTunes digital downloads, from iTunes LP and Extras to novel class of digital books, magazines, and newspapers.

Reports that Apple is hosting its own January media event at the same venue it has historically used for its fall iPod-related music events also explains why the company announced last year that it would no longer be presenting a keynote or even a booth at IDG's Macworld Expo event, which has typically been scheduled for the first week of January. The event date set in late January allows the company more time to plan and prepare for the slate introduction.

The earlier timing of the independent Macworld Expo has been cited as problem for Apple, as it forced the company to scramble together its keynote and presentation efforts immediately after the December holidays, a month that serves as the primary vacation time for many the company's hard-driven engineers.

Death of the trade show

The company has weaned itself from trade shows in general over the past decade, first pulling out of the summer Macworld Expo after IDG decided to move its venue from New York to Boston in 2003. Apple CEO Steve Jobs asked the show's promoters to keep the event in New York to keep it closer to the company's big publisher base there, and when IDG refused Jobs simply pulled Apple's involvement out entirely, which subsequently killed the summer expo.

In place of the summer Macworld Expo, Apple expanded its own Worldwide Developer's Conference and incorporated QuickTime Live into a mid-year keynote and week-long training session that has rapidly expanded into an event that sells out quickly. The company also began hosting its own "Apple Events" in other months to introduce new generations of the iMac, iPod, and software releases.

In 2008, Apple similarly pulled out of the National Association of Broadcasters convention, which it had previously used to debut new releases of Final Cut Studio and related products. The company explained at the time that it "“is participating in fewer trade shows every year because often there are better ways for us to reach our customers.”

Apple has also ignored general consumer shows such as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which it regularly overshadowed (such as with the its its solo debut of the iPhone at Macworld Expo 2007), and the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which despite a regular no-show by Apple has served as a place for competitors to talk about the iPhone and their attempts to provide a response to it.