When Apple executives take the stage at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Thursday, they’ll be kicking off more than an education-themed press event. It will also mark the first of two Apple announcements within the space of a week.
Thursday’s event starts at 7 a.m. PT; Macworld will have live coverage of the event from New York.
As with most Apple briefings, the company has kept a tight lid on what it plans to unveil, other than saying any announcements would focus on education. That, coupled with the fact that Apple is straying from its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters to hold the event in New York, the capital of the book publishing industry, has fueled speculation that Thursday’s announcement will involve electronic textbooks. While Apple’s iPad has made inroads in the classroom, earlier reports from AllThingsD have played down the possibility of any hardware announcements like a new tablet on Thursday.
Hardware will definitely be on the agenda during next week’s earnings call, however, as Apple reveals how many iPads, iPhones, iPods, and Macs it sold during the holiday season. Apple will release its quarterly earnings on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 24; Macworld have have live coverage of the 2 p.m. PT call with analysts that same day.
Next week’s earnings announcement covers the October-to-December quarter, a critical period for Apple that includes holiday shopping. In 2011’s first quarter, Apple saw quarterly records for sales and profits, which helped set the tone for another strong fiscal year from the company.
Early indications are that the company may have plenty of good news to announce a week from Tuesday. Last week, a pair of market research firms forecasted that year-over-year Mac shipments had jumped 18 to 21 percent for the quarter. Such gains would make Apple the only computer maker to record shipment gains during the final three months of 2011 and put the company on pace to set another quarterly record for Mac sales.
iPad sales figures should be especially interesting, as Apple’s iPad 2 faced increased pressure during the holiday season from lower-priced tablets led by Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The consensus among analysts polled by Fortune is that Apple sold a little less than 14 million iPads, which would be a gain of 90 percent from the year-ago period.