Apple expected to host major press conference in January

Apple reportedly has rented out space at a popular San Francisco venue in late January, with bloggers and analysts expecting a major product announcement on the horizon.

There are rumors Apple will release a tablet device sometime in 2010 – As usual, Apple hasn’t confirmed any product developments — with speculation the Jan. event will be when Apple CEO Steve Jobs officially introduces the long-awaited tablet computer.  Apple’s latest product was expected to be released in November, and then before the end of 2009, but those dates didn’t pan out.

To avoid a possible price war with other netbook manufacturers, Apple’s latest mobile device is expected to cost closer to $1,000.  Acer, Asus, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and others have entered the netbook market with products that cost $400 or less, with Apple not looking to compete with so many rivals.  The rumored tablet will have a 10.6-inch display, similar to other netbooks, but hardware specifications and other details about the device are unknown.

There has been criticism that a tablet around $1,000 is too much for regular consumers, but Apple’s PR machine is one of the strongest in the tech industry.

“We expect the tablet hardware to be similar to an iPod Touch but larger (about 10″); we expect the key differentiator of the device to be its software,” Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst Gene Munster said in a research note.  “Our connect [sic] said there is 100% [chance] a 73 Apple tablet, to be announced in January.”