Will We See Apple at CES 2010?

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We already know Apple won't be attending MacWorld 2010 next January. But now, The Wall Street Journal says the company is planning on attending the Consumer Electronics Show instead. The only problem with this report? It may not be true.

The rumor comes courtesy of The Wall Street Journal's Digits blogger Ben Charny, who recently attended a dinner for journalists in San Francisco with Gary Shapiro, the chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association, the trade group behind CES.

Charny's blog post flatly states: "Apple plans to attend the show's 2010 version, marking the first time in memory the Cupertino, Calif., consumer-electronics giant will be there." No source is given for that claim, though.

Engadget's Ryan Block says he was at the same dinner as Charny and claims the WSJ reporter is flat-out wrong. "At no point did Gary [Shapiro] even remotely imply that Apple would be present at a future CES," Block wrote. "Let alone state flatly that Apple 'will be there' in 2010."

Apple announced last December that it would be pulling out of the MacWorld Expo, because trade shows were becoming "a very minor part" of how the company reaches its customer base. Cupertino went on to argue that it can do a better job of communicating with its customer base through its retail stores and Web site rather than at events like MacWorld. Apple also prefers to host its own special events, such as its Worldwide Developers Conference, which has been a showcase for iPhone-related announcements in recent years.

So if Apple isn't big on trade shows anymore, how did Charny get the impression that Apple was heading to CES 2010? In Charny's blog post, he recounts a journalist asking Shapiro if he'd asked Jobs to give a keynote speech at CES 2010. Shapiro said he'd asked, but had not received a reply from Apple.

Over at Engadget, Block recalls another part of the conversation that evening. He reported that someone asked Shapiro if, hypothetically, Apple came to this year's CES, whether the CEA would be able to accomodate Cupertino at this late stage. Shapiro then said he could get Apple a booth, but it would not be on par with Microsoft's CES 2010 presence.

Based on these comments, it's possible Charny may have just assumed Apple was coming to CES. Or maybe Charny has another source on this information outside of the Shapiro dinner, and perhaps Apple really does plan to attend CES 2010. But if there is another source talking to Charny about Apple's CES plans, the WSJ writer doesn't say so in his post. Typically, a reporter would note when information has been gathered through an anonymous source. As with any Apple rumor it's hard to know what's really going on, and so far Apple isn't saying anything at all.

In May, the CEA announced that CES 2010 would increase its typical Apple-related space from 4000 square feet to 25,000 due to popular demand. The new area is to be called the iLounge, and will be dedicated to iPhone and iPod gear.

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