Apple might be launching a product on Apple Store’s 10th birthday

Another day, another crop of Apple rumors about new products. This one corresponds with the 10th birthday of the Apple Store, which is set to take place Thursday, May 19.

Apple has a party scheduled for the weekend to celebrate the anniversary, and it might have something else up its sleeve as well. According to iPodnn and Boy Genius Report, Apple has staff slated for a special overnight shift; iPodnn has heard from an unnamed source at Apple that the company is planning a “major” product launch for May 19 or sometime soon after.

The overnight shift runs from Saturday to midday Sunday and is expected to include 10 to 15 employees at each Apple Store, which will include a mix of employees: “all visuals staff, a manager, a business team member, a few Genius team members, one back-of-house employee, and a few generic Apple specialists,” as BGR puts it.

According to both sources, Apple Store employees working the overnight shifts will have to sign a non-disclosure agreement with Apple, and will have to submit to having their cell phones behind lock and key in the store’s offices, apparently to prevent any information leaks. The stores reportedly have received new “hardware” they’ll need to install within the stores, all of which is currently locked up and won’t be seen by anyone until Saturday night.

Also during the overnight shift, which sounds like it’s for setup rather than sale, Apple Store employees will place a black curtain over the windows of the shops to prevent customers on the outside from seeing inside. Supposedly, all Apple Stores have a mandatory meeting for all employees to take place sometime on Sunday, May 22, and all employees have received a password-protected zip file from Apple that can only be accessed this weekend, once managers have received the passwords from Apple corporate.

Whew, get all that? It’s a lot of cloak-and-dagger stuff to come out of the rumor mill, and an intense amount of protection going on at your local Apple Store this weekend – should it turn out to be true. We’ll have to wait a few days to see if all this stuff actually happens (the black curtains will be a dead giveaway come Saturday night), but until then, what really matters is what could be happening this weekend. Unfortunately, on that front, we have no idea.

None of the leaked information contains any kind of clue about what Apple might be readying to roll out. Doing so over the weekend would be something of an interesting move, given that Apple has its Worldwide Developers Conference coming up in less than a month, and that has been a traditional venue for announcing products. If there’s an announcement event happening in the next few days, Apple hasn’t mentioned it and hasn’t released any information.

So take this leak/rumor/speculation as you will and keep your eyes peeled this weekend. We’ll let you know if we hear anything official that might squeeze its way out of the often-tightly sealed Apple camp. Until then, here’s a guess: a new iPod. Seeing as we just got the iPad 2 and no one expects the next iPhone until about September, we’re about due for a new entry into Apple’s lineup of portable music players.

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