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iGuide may be service tied to forthcoming Apple tablet

With evidence mounting that Apple is racing towards an early 2010 introduction of its much-anticipated multi-touch tablet, the guessing game over what name the company will use to market the device has kicked into overdrive, with yet another candidate surfacing this week in "iGuide."

It was reported last week that Apple set up a shell company by the name of Slate Computing, LLC three years ago in an effort to secure a trademark on the term "iSlate" without drawing the attention of its competitors and the media, similar to what it had accomplished through the shell company Ocean Telecom in regards to the "iPhone" mark.

Slate Computing, in addition to owning the iSlate mark, is also the listed register of the trademark on "Magic Slate." Both terms seem well-suited for an Apple tablet that would resemble a device akin to a jumbo iPod touch.

In particular, the former stands out as the most likely contender given that the editor of rumored Apple tablet content provider, the New York Times, made mention of an "impending Apple slate" during a presentation to the newspaper's digital staff two months before word of Apple's involvement with Slate Computing was brought to light.

"We need to figure out the right journalistic product to deliver to mobile platforms and devices," he said. "I'm hoping we can get the newsroom more actively involved in the challenge of delivering our best journalism in the form of Times Reader, iPhone apps, WAP, or the impending Apple slate, or whatever comes after that."

Meanwhile, it surfaced Tuesday that Apple also appears to be behind another shell company by the name of iGuide Media, LLC, which has held a pending application on the "iGuide" trademark since December of 2007. MacRumors, which reported the connection, says the discovery may shed doubt on earlier assumptions that Apple may coin its tablet the iSlate because the trademark classifications for iGuide seems a better fit for the rumored device:

Computer hardware and computer software for accessing, browsing, searching, recording, organizing, storing, transmitting, receiving, manipulating, streaming, reproducing, playing, and reviewing audio, video, games, music, television, movies, photographs, and other multimedia content.

The classification also covers a wide variety of downloadable electronic content:

Downloadable electronic publications in the nature of books, magazines, newsletters, journals, and blogs in the fields of entertainment, sports, science, history, culture, celebrities, news, current events, politics, technology, and education;

TechCrunch, however, did some more digging and found no evidence that Apple owns any iGuide-related domain names. By contrast, it was also revealed last week that Apple has taken control of a handful of iSlate domain names.

The technology blog also points out that the description of goods and services given to iGuide Media in its filings weighs more heavily towards services than that give to iSlate. It therefore concludes that iGuide is more likely to be a service tied to the Apple tablet than the name of the device itself.

Still, there's no concrete evidence that Apple will use any of the aforementioned names in relation to its tablet. The Cupertino-based firm has the capacity to set up any number of shell companies it desires, with very little effort or monetary resources. The only surefire assumptions that can be made from the past two weeks of discoveries is that the company at one time saw enough interest in the aforementioned terms to secure the rights to use them down the line if it so chooses.