We already think Apple will reveal its new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C at next week's September 10 event, and we hope it'll announce new iPads and maybe even updated iMacs at the same time. But a much more intriguing rumor has just surfaced, suggesting that Apple's got some brand new Apple TV hardware on the way too... and this is something we know nothing about yet.
As reported by GigaOm, the new rumor comes from an unusual source—at least for Apple data—because it's a global trade analysis outfit called Panjiva. By scanning shipments, the company has discovered a bill of lading from the DHS that describes the importing of shipping containers destined for Apple that are labeled "set top boxes." The August 11th shipment was for "set top boxes with communication function" and weighed just over 7 tons. On August 18th there was another weighing over 16 tons and another weighing the same on August 25th. The company notes that usually Apple TV shipments come from manufacturer Hon Hai, but these new shipments are from a new Apple partner called BYD.
Assuming the shipments are based on the existing Apple TV hardware, which weighs 0.27 kilos, these loads could represent somewhere over 100,000 Apple TV units (allowing that the packaging takes up some weight) imported into the U.S. just a few weeks ahead of a big press event.
The Apple TV hasn't been updated since March 2013, although there was a "silent" update with a new chip that Apple rolled out this year. The company's been aggressively updating the old Apple TV in recent weeks with new media partner apps.
All of this could be taken as a big pointer that Apple's got some brand-new Apple TV hardware on the way. It's a bit of a longshot, but you never know. After all, we really weren't expecting news that Apple has another, special, Chinese launch event in Beijing, presumably for the new iPhones, on September 11th.
[Image: Flickr user Ian Dick]