Months of speculation have just proven true: Apple's called select journalists to a press event on January 27 to see the company's "latest creation." The gaudy paint-splatted invite gives little away...but does it suggest the iTablet is real?
The invitation is definitely something to be excited about if you're a gizmo-fanatic: The careful choice of words is a classic Apple maneuver, and it implies, hints, teases that the technology that will be revealed at the event is indeed a totally new thing. That's important, since even now we have absolutely no idea that Apple really is going to be unveiling the long-awaited and highly anticipated Apple tablet/slate PC. The choice of the word "creation" does lean towards a new genre of Apple gadget though, instead of an updated iPhone OS or a new suite of up-specced Apple laptops or iMacs.
And maybe, just maybe, that paint-splat effect suggests this too. Though it's no Jackson Pollock masterpiece, the image does definitely convey a hands-on style of art, as well as a significant sense of fun. A slate Mac would certainly be more compatible with touchscreen art software than the iPhone--even while that device has already proven it's a worthy art tool . Remember that Apple's placing a greater emphasis on Mac gaming than even before, thanks to the gaming success of the iPhone an iPod Touch, and also that Steve Jobs himself once described  the iPod Touch as the "funnest" yet. Based on this history, it wouldn't be beyond the pale to assume that Apple would highlight the potential entertainment prospects of the Apple slate--which, with what we presume to be a more advanced CPU and software, would be a far more gaming-capable machine than the iPhone.
Dare we even go out on a limb and suggest that the multiple colors in the invite also suggest the iSlate (or whatever it's called) will come in different colors, versus Apple's current predilection toward black, white, and brushed aluminum?
That's a stretch. But at least there are more rumors popping up that do indeed suggest that we'll be seeing the iSlate revealed next week. A story on Fox News  yesterday reportedly came from an insider at Apple before the news about the Latest Creation press event hit, and confirmed that the iSlate would be the main focus. The source also suggested that the new iPhone OS 4.0  would be revealed (as expected a few months ahead of an updated iPhone) and that iLife 2010 would be shown to the public. Presumably this family-centric software suite would be tweaked to make the most of the touchscreen controls in the iSlate--and though this new leak contained no mention of it, there have been previous rumors that iWork 2010 is also configured to be gesture-controlled.
Elsewhere doubt has been cast  over previous suggestions that the iSlate will have an OLED  screen--due to the complete lack of known manufacturing sources that could deliver a 10-inch OLED display in the kind of volume that Apple would need. This rings true with us, especially since the suggested price of the iSlate is below $1,000...and OLED screens are still prohibitively expensive.
Meanwhile the rumors  about exactly what market Apple will be targeting with the iSlate are getting another bit of spin with suggestions that publisher Harper-Collins has been in discussion with the folks at Cupertino. The news surfaced at the Wall Street Journal --and we already suspect  that Apple may be using the paper as a deliberate, controllable leak destination. This quite definitely supports previous speculation that Apple is planning on grabbing the e-reader market, with a multi-purpose device that'll instantly outclass nearly every other single-purpose e-reader.
But with that artistic invite graphic, mentions of iLife's family software and iWork's business software, and our knowledge of the complete multi-purpose uses of the iPhone, it would seem that the iSlate is going to be much much more than just a smart multi-media player and e-book reader. Will the machine end up being the Swiss Army Knife of portable computing?