Steve Jobs, chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple Computer, will unveil a new consumer product that is "innovative, revolutionary and different" at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco on January 7, the company said.
Fueling speculation about a flat-panel iMac, Apple said the "powerful, user-friendly and eye-catching" product will be launched worldwide and is expected to have an "enormous impact." The statements were made in an invitation sent to journalists in the Netherlands late last week.
Apple won't give out more details.
"We have already been too open, judging by the interest this is generating," said Ton van Garderen, general manager for Apple in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, adding that the Dutch invitation could be "more candid than those sent out in other countries."
However, analysts earlier this month said Apple placed a large order for 15-inch flat-panel LCDs (Liquid Crystal Displays) for its all-in-one PC, according to media reports. Taiwanese laptop manufacturer Quanta Computer Inc. claimed to have won a contract to manufacture the new iMac.
Earlier this year Apple said it would only ship its computers with LCDs, but didn't specify the iMac at that time. The iMac has not had a major makeover since its launch in 1998.
Van Garderen would not confirm the flat-panel order and declined to say whether Apple feels the iMac is ready for a new look.
Sales of the iMac have been declining, bringing calls for a refreshed product. In its fourth quarter, ended September 29, Apple said it shipped 294,000 units, slightly down from 306,000 in the third quarter and a significant drop from 571,000 in Apple's last quarter of 2000.