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What's Apple got planned for this Thursday?

There was a great deal of excitement last week as Apple sent out invitations for a special media event to take place on January 19.

Such invites usually precede the unveiling of the latest piece of electronic magic from the gargantuan company. However, this invitation was to an event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, far from Apple’s Cupertino, California headquarters, and promised only an ‘education announcement’.

So what educational product could be important enough to warrant the full Apple fanfare? Most commentators are speculating about either the addition of textbooks to iBooks, the ebook publishing platform that was launched with the iPad in Jaunary 2010, or changes to iTunes U, the free service Apple provides to help Universities distribute content. 

On the surface, neither sounds like that big a deal. However, according to Mike Elgan from Cult of Mac, this could easily be the first shot in Apple’s new war on its true main rival, Amazon. 

Elgan states that Apple’s goal is ‘to do for all content what it did for music – control it’.

With the long-rumoured iTV ready to dominate the television and movie markets, the only remaining challenge is publishing.

"It’s pretty hard to imagine Apple putting up an bookstore and competing head-to-head with Amazon for print book sales,” Elgan writes.

"I think Apple intends to slowly take control of the book publishing industry from Amazon by providing the leading tools and cloud infrastructure for authors to create and then market their books directly to readers. Starting with the education segment of the publishing market.”

The event takes place at 4am Friday, New Zealand time.