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Apple rumor roundup: future of media edition

Now that Apple's officially announced an event to show off its "latest creation" on the 27th, the rumors and gossip are about to get even more out of hand -- eventually we expect them to take flight and start raiding small towns for soda water and appetizers. In the meantime, however, we've got the latest batch of somewhat-sober whispers to tide us over, so let's run through 'em, shall we?

The rumor: The iPhone Blog points us to a China Times piece setting the tablet's screen size at 9.7 inches. (We covered the 22-inch touchscreen iMac rumor separately.)
Our take: At this point we've heard pretty much every screen size from eight inches to 11, so we're not making a call either way on this one. We will say that the only other product with a 9.7-inch screen we can think of off-hand is the Kindle DX -- a relatively simple device that's still so large and heavy we generally hold it with two hands. Just something to think about.

The rumor: Ars Technica talks to the director of the OLED Association, who rules out a 10.1-inch AMOLED screen by saying "there's no real production of 10.1-inch panels." Oh, and the only place to buy those would be Samsung, really, and Sammy doesn't have the capacity.
Our take: We never thought a 10.1 OLED screen was likely: not only are prices insane, but OLED still has terrible daylight viewing issues. The Ars piece is well worth a read, though -- it's a nice look at the state of OLED.

The rumor: Peter Kafka at All Things Digital rounds up some rumors of his own. He thinks it's a "good bet" the NYT will be involved, but the music industry won't be on board, although Apple is briefing some music execs as a "courtesy." What's more, we'll be hearing a lot about "enhanced e-books," and there's obviously a video component to all of this, potentially with specific Disney involvement, but also potentially with the existing catalog of video in the iTunes store.
Our take: All of this sounds reasonable enough -- although the video situation seems a little more complex, since some HD rentals in the iTunes Store can only be played on the Apple TV, not a Mac or an iPhone, and we all know how much studios like Disney love it when they don't get paid extra for new devices and services. That certainly seems like a big bundle of issues if we're talking about a portable device with a large screen that's focused on media playback, so we'll see how much leverage Steve's managed to exert at the event next week.

The rumor: Boy Genius says he's gotten some info on iPhone OS 4.0, which is doubly intriguing since we've heard it's the basis for the tablet's OS. Highlights: multitasking, new system-wide multitouch gestures, lots of UI changes to make navigation "easier and more efficient," and some sort of new contacts and calendar syncing system. All told, it'll make the iPhone much closer to being a "full-fledged computer." Bad news? 4.0 will be for the iPhone 3G and 3GS only.
Our take: Another perfectly sensible set of rumors, really. Multitasking and UI refinements to handle it seem like a given, and we agree with BGR that new gestures make sense if 4.0 is also being used for the tablet in some way. It also makes sense that the original iPhone won't get this upgrade, at least not for free -- recall that Apple books iPhone revenue over 24 months using subscription accounting in order to dole out free OS upgrades during that time; the first-gen model came out in June of 2007, so the clock's up. Given the basic hardware similarities between the original and 3G, we wouldn't be surprised if Apple sells 4.0 on the side -- or it's hacked. Yeah, it'll be hacked.

Update: One more rumor for you -- MacRumors dug up some evidence that Apple's been registering an "iPad" trademark internationally under a variety of dummy corporations. We've been hearing that name pop up since about August, actually, so we'll see what comes of it -- we think it's way too close to "iPod," but maybe that's actually a good thing in Apple's eyes.

Whew, that's a lot for today. A lot of freaking words -- come on people, we need a photo. We can't keep staring at this lame SIM tray image for eight days, you know? Let's make it happen.