Rumors fly about today's Apple product announcement

An Apple retail store.

Adriene Hill: Later today Apple is holding a press event to unveil its new iPhone and possibly bid farewell to the iPod. It's the first big product announcement at the company since Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO because of his health.

Marketplace's Steve Henn joins us now from Silicon Valley. Good morning Steve.

Steve Henn: Good morning.

Hill: So what should we expect today?

Henn: Well, the one thing we know for sure is that this product announcement will be the first at Apple for a long time where Steve Jobs is not the CEO. And comparisons between Jobs and the man who's taking his place, Tim Cook, are going to be inevitable. You know, Cook is widely respected, but he's never had the swagger or style that many associate with Jobs. And it's kind of interesting -- Apple's holding this event in a smaller location than it's held similar events at in the past, and it's not streaming in online.

Hill: That's interesting. So we know for sure Tim Cook is in charge, we know this may be a lower key event -- what do we know about the phone, at least in rumor land?

Henn: There are tons of rumors, as is always the case before an Apple product announcement. But the one I like the best -- and which I actually think may be the most likely -- is about something that will be kind of like a virtual personal assistant. The idea is that instead of typing or touching your phone to communicate with it, you'll just be able to talk with it, and ask it for what you want.

Hill: How is that different from the way my Android works right now? I have speech recognition, I can ask it to look things up for me.

Henn: Your Android phone is just decoding the words you say and then dropping them into a Google search box. This is trying to actually understand what you mean, and what you're looking for -- almost like IBM's Watson computer.

Hill: I wanted to ask about one other business rumor before I let you go -- the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint has cut a huge deal with Apple for these iPhones --

Henn: The Journal is reporting that Sprint has promised to buy 30 million phones -- which costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 billion. So this is a huge deal for Sprint, which has been desperate to get the iPhone for a long time. But it really could be getting the company here. You know, it's important to remember Sprint is only valued at $8 billion right now.

Hill: Marketplace's Steve Henn, thanks so much.

Henn: Sure thing.

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