Apple Inc. is so secretive about its unreleased phones, tablets, computers and -- potentially -- TVs, that you could almost say that the phrase "notoriously secretive" has become an unofficial Apple slogan.
But it's not quite true that Apple keeps everything in a lockbox. The flip side of the company's obsession with secrecy is that its leaders have learned how to use the fact vacuum to their advantage. While the company never discloses product details ahead of time, its executives do drop not-too-subtle hints about upcoming gadgets, sparking weeks of speculation until the next morsel is dropped.
The latest came last week when Apple's head designer, Jonathan Ive, said in an interview that the product Apple is working on now is "the best work we've done." Though Ive wouldn't say what that device was, speculation immediately kicked off that he was referring to the widely rumored Apple television set -- and not just, say, a sixth-generation iPhone.
A few months earlier, chief executive Tim Cook dropped another nugget, saying that Apple's set-top box -- the Apple TV -- wasn't just a hobby for the firm, but a precursor to "something ... larger."
"We need something that could go more main market for it to become a serious category for the company," Cook said at the time.
If you wade into the murkier realm of reports from overseas media, you will hear that the head of Foxconn, the outfit that manufactures Apple products in China, is alleged to have said that his factories were gearing up for Apple iTV production.
That tidbit, buried in an article earlier this month from the government-influenced China Daily, consisted of one sentence noting that Foxconn head Terry Gou said his company was making preparations for iTV, but gave no details and included no direct quotations. Foxconn denied the report.
Apple is expected to announce a number of new devices at its Worldwide Developers' Conference, which begins June 11. But many Apple watchers believe the television (if indeed it exists) won't debut until the fall.