M is for Mum

The sun has yet to rise in the Bay area, but plenty of people are scurrying around right now to ensure that the Apple of everyone’s eye does not disappoint. Steve Jobs will deliver his keynote address this morning at the annual Macworld conference in San Francisco.

I can’t recall another year when the hype, hysteria and histrionics have achieved such a fevered pitch. But, of course, none of this is Apple’s doing…or is it?

The rumors are rampant with predictions of Apple’s entry into the musically enabled mobile phone business. Then there’s iTV, which promises to bridge one’s hard drive with his or her flat screen using a $299 iPod Mini-sized wireless device. What abut a socialized iTunes?

A simple audit of the blogosphere will reveal no shortage of Apple, Mac and iPod sites that break and re-make news on the fabled company. Then there’s the mainstream tech reporters, none of whom have failed to predict which new Apple products will see the light of day today.

Last night, the Wall Street Journal fueled the fire with a “Technology Alert” proclaiming a deal between Apple and Cingular to (finally) offer that elusive melodic cell phone. Or was it just the Journal’s way of flagging veteran SF-based tech reporter Nick Wingfield’s prominent piece today on the conference.

Nick’s requisite call to Apple produced this: “Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment on what he called ‘rumor and speculation’ when asked about a Cingular-Apple deal.”

Truth be told, the Wingfield piece, while a good perspective-builder, doesn’t reveal much that hasn’t already been buzzed about in the blogosphere. Nonetheless, its very appearance on the vaunted pages of The Journal, picked up by Reuters, have likely taken it out of rumor mode.

And Apple is no doubt pleased by the absence of company-verified info. The element of surprise and the goal of “exceeding expectations” remain indigenous to Apple’s PR strategy. I just wonder whether the physical manifestation of a new i-branded cellphone or more details on iTV — products that have saturated the online “conversation” these last few months, will satisfy this most jaded of journalistic beats.

Stay tuned. Peter Rojas and the crew at engadget will have it live here.