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Minyanville at CES: Apple's Super-Secret Presence at CES

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Look behind the Google TVs (GOOG), the gospel singers, and even LL Cool J, and you might see evidence of Apple's (AAPL) clandestine presence here at CES. Although it doesn't have an official booth at the convention -- unlike its tech foes Microsoft (MSFT), RIM (RIMM), Motorola (MMI), and Samsung -- Cupertino has feelers embedded deep within the crowd, scoping out the competition.

And there might even be a sneak peek at an upcoming product.

Although spotting someone you know at the jam-packed Las Vegas Convention Center is like finding a needle in a haystack, PaidContent's Tom Krazit noticed Apple's head of iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak hovering outside Sony's (SNE) booth. Krazit mentioned how Joswiak gave him a sheepish smile after getting recognized by a reporter and briefly filled him in on what he's doing at CES. Joswiak mentioned how he was checking out how companies are presenting their products -- booth layout, highlights, and the like -- but was relatively cagey on his thoughts about the competitors' showcases.

And as is Apple's surreptitious wont, Krazit noted how Joswiak's ID badge was strategically arranged to mask his name and company affiliation. Very tricky, Apple.

But a top-level executive wasn't the only thing Apple was keeping under wraps. iLounge editor Jeremy Horwitz claimed he stumbled upon an iPad 3 buried deep within the chaos of CES. Unlike the iPhones that are field tested in public, the iPad 3 wasn't encased in an iPad 2 plastic shield that would mask any telltale differences. But according to Horwitz, that might not matter.

"Think iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S," he wrote. "This device so resembles the iPad 2 that differences are only obvious when they're placed next to each other. From the back, you could walk past this new iPad on display and have no idea that anything had changed."

However, Horwitz noted how the device itself appeared to be at least six months old, so it could very well be an older prototype and a little different from the final product.

Of the minor changes, the tablet's camera was slightly bigger, noticeable only when placed beside an iPad 2, and looks similar to the camera lens on the back of the iPhone 4S -- "minus the LED flash." The device itself is only a tad thicker by a millimeter or so, which Horwitz said might affect those with iPad 2 cases hoping to upgrade. Otherwise, he noted, the "switch, button, speaker, and other elements located on the side edges are all the same, as are the headphone and Dock Connector ports."

Much like its presence at this year's CES, looks like Apple is once again going subtle.

(See also: Minyanville at CES: So Sad We Missed Microsoft's Insane Exit and Apple Will Become "Uncool" in 2012, Predicts Analyst)

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