What a difference a year and a scary recession make! While everyone is sweating bullets over just how bad retail sales will be this holiday season, I decided to take a break and think of something really trivial: MacWorld, which is coming up in January.

Usually MacWorld is highlighted by some fan-tabulous product launch that wows tech reporters, creates lots and lots of buzz and leaves Apple fans salivating and speculating over when said product will actually hit the shelves. Lawn chairs and other camp out equipment is brought out of the basement in anticipation.

You get the idea.

Can you see this making sense this time around, however?

Rumors are already bouncing around the techno-blogosphere about MacWorld. Apparantly, there are widespread reports Apple plans to announce a new product that is outside the usual devices (not an iPod, iPhone or Mac). Best guesses are that perhaps it's a tablet (iTablet?) or something to compete with Amazon's Kindle (iKindle?).

I would say both are good guesses. The tablet sounds more likely to me. However, Oprah endorsed the Kindle. When Oprah blesses something, we all know what that means (East of Eden goes back on the New York Times bestseller list after 50 years and Barack Obama becomes president.). That may be just enough endorsement to make Steve Jobs want to jump in the digital book reader market (Microsoft will realize it's a market 18 months from now and jump in late with something that is both inferior and succeeds anyway).

All that being said, who can think about new product lines at Apple in this economy?

Thought question of the day: in today's economy would the launch of the first iPhone or iPod have made it?