Research by MacRumors and TechCrunch has revealed that Apple has been using a beard to cover up the stockpiling of the domain name 'iSlate'. Apple, hiding behind registrar MarkMonitor, has been revealed to be the true owner of the name during some brief lapses in ownership. The domain name has been registered in different countries like France and the UK, and all the info points back to MarkMonitor or other Apple related firms. As for the trademark, a Delaware firm named Slate Computing registered ISLATE as a trademark on November 21, 2006 in the U.S. and E.U. The overseas application features a law firm used by Apple in other European trademark applications. Slate Computing itself does not have a real business but on the trademark application, the company's business description had the same lines of business as Apple. While all of this could just mean that Apple has reserved the right to use the name iSlate on a future product, a tablet would seem to fit perfectly. Wall Street analyst Gene Munster, writing for broker Piper Jaffray while channeling Yogi Berra, wrote that there is a 75% chance that Apple will have a presentation in January and a 50% chance that the presentation will be to introduce a new tablet.
The Financial Times has reported that Apple has booked the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts in San Francisco for several dates in late January. A FT source says that Apple will introduce a new product on January 26th which meets the qualifications of late January. The New York Times, talking to past and current Apple employees, says that the current version of an Apple Tablet has "hit the sweet spot" and that Steve Jobs is "extremely happy with the new tablet." A recently departed Apple employee added that the way users interact with the device will be very surprising. That could relate to the recently reported
story about two Apple patent applications relating to tactile feedback keyboard. And as the speculation grows and spreads like wildfire, we can tell you that the fever pitch will rise as we head toward the end of 2010's first month and more and more stories, pictures and perhaps even video will appear. For now, we have to be satisfied with some good detective work. Keep checking in for the latest as the first big story of 2010 starts to develop at the end of 2009.