Will Apple Introduce Its Tablet In January?

The Financial Times is reporting that Apple will make a major product announcement on January 26th. Could it finally be the time to unveil their much talked-about tablet? That's the speculation that has the tech blogs buzzing.

Here's the report from the Financial Times:

The company has rented a stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco for several days in late January, according to people familiar with the plans.

Speculation that Apple is preparing to introduce a new tablet style computer has been building all year, and other reports now suggest the tablet will make its debut in January.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster today speculated that an event was imminent. "We believe there is a 75 per cent likelihood that Apple will have an event in January and a 50 per cent chance that it will be held to launch the Apple Tablet," he wrote in a new research note. "If Apple announced the Tablet in January, it would likely ship later in the March quarter."

If this guess is right, then that's pretty awful timing. Nothing like introducing an exciting new product exactly one month after Christmas! You would think that Apple might have encouraged its engineers and manufacturers to get out the product a few months earlier to capture the holiday spending.

And that timing becomes more problematic when you think about how many Amazon Kindles, Barnes and Noble Nooks, and other e-readers will be given this year. All of those consumers will be far less likely to now take the plunge on an Apple tablet. The tablet may put other e-readers to shame, as it will likely function more as a minicomputer than its competitors. But if you've already got an expensive device to read books and magazines, I think you would be far less likely to by the new Apple device.

First mover advantage means a lot in technology, so I do worry a little that Apple is getting a little late to the game on this one. But if its tablet far outshines mere e-readers, that disadvantage could become irrelevant. Time will tell.