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Apple to launch ‘digital device’ next week

Not a Mac, apparently

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Apple will try to move beyond the computer market next Wednesday when it launches its first non-Mac product for years, something the company describes in invites to the launch as "a breakthrough digital device".

The possibilities for what it might be are endless - and almost all of them have been rumoured at some time to be under development in Apple's labs. Gadgets that immediately spring to mind include a PDA, a Web pad or a set-top box. Perhaps Apple has bought the Kerbango Internet radio or the Audrey home information appliance off 3Com?

Sources tell CNet that it's a digital music player, which would pitch Apple against the likes of Sony, Creative Technology and the very well established Rio. Short of offering QuickTime support and the company's famed industrial design, it's hard to see what Apple could do that these others haven't.

Whatever Apple does come out with next week, it will almost certainly tie into the company's Mac OS X Digital Hub strategy. All the digital content device types Apple has promoted as ideal companions for OS X are well supplied by other companies and many of them Apple already sells through its online store.

The fact that other companies can do these kinds of products better than Apple can is one of the main reasons why Apple stopped trying to do them itself. It's hard to see what's changed. ®

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