Briefly: Apple Expo, Apple TV at Costco, Ballmer on iPhone

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The dates are set and pre-registration has opened for the annual Paris-based Apple Expo and conference. Meanwhile, Apple TVs have turned up at Target as well as at another popular discount chain. And Microsoft headman Steve Ballmer is running his mouth again — this time over iPhone.

Apple Expo Paris set for Sept.

Will Apple chief executive Steve Jobs be making the cross-Atlantic journey to this year's Apple Expo in Paris, France? It's hard to tell just yet, but show organizers are making no promises after the past three years of disappointment. They are, however, opening up the pre-registration lines.

This year's conference is slated to run September 25 - 29 at the Porte de Versailles. Those interested in attending can head on over to the show's official website and generate a printable badge that can be brought to the Electronic Badge welcome desk during the week of the show and redeemed for an exhibition pass.

Though Apple has used the Paris gathering to introduce products in the past, Jobs and Co. have failed to deliver an opening keynote address since 2003.

In 2004, Jobs' keynote presentation was conducted by Apple vice president Phil Schiller after the Apple co-founder took leave from his duties at the company in order to recuperate from pancreatic cancer surgery.

Jobs was also expected to present the opening keynote in 2004, but later changed his plans when several product launches failed to fall into alignment.

The case was similar in 2005, when Apple announced then later recanted its offer to deliver a keynote presentation (presumably by Jobs) for unspecified reasons. Last year, the Mac maker passed on an opening gig from the get-go.

Apple TVs turning up at third party retailers

Per expectations, MacRumors posts a few photos confirming that Apple TVs have indeed begun to show up at Target retail stores. One photo appears to show a display unit headed for connectivity to a widescreen HD TV, as AppleInsider reported in its exclusive coverage of the matter earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Ars reports on comments from a tipster who recently spotted the wireless media hub at a Costco wholesale club, retailing for $289 — $10 less than Apple's suggest retail price.

According to the report, Costco won't be charging a restocking fee on the device. So if you buy one, set it up, then decide it sucks due to the dearth of immediately suitable HD content, you can return it for no practically no loss of coin.

Ballmer's inferiority complex

On reprieve from all the monkey dancing, high-pitched squealing and picture squirting, Microsoft chief executive and renowned loudmouth Steve Ballmer has weighed in with his thoughts on Apple's much-awaited iPhone handset.

"It's sort of a funny question," he said when asked by USA Today whether he wished consumers were as passionate about Microsoft as they are towards Apple, the iPod, and now iPhone. "Would I trade 96 percent of the market for 4 percent of the market? (Laughter.) I want to have products that appeal to everybody."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer | Photo Credits: AP

"Now we'll get a chance to go through this again in phones and music players," Ballmer continued. "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60 percent or 70 percent or 80 percent of them, than I would to have 2 percent or 3 percent, which is what Apple might get."