Apple confirmed the swirling rumors of a Jan. 27 media event with a press invitation to “Come see our latest creation.” Expectations are that Steve Jobs & Co. will unveil Apple's much-rumored/anticipated tablet computing device.

What that means for the music industry is hard to say. A tablet computer would open up a new category of devices to play music, but exactly how it stands out from existing devices in terms of bringing new music functionality remains unclear.

The iPhone and iPod are the portable music solutions, and are seeing new opportunities in the form of music apps and cloud-based music streaming. Desktop and laptop computers serve as more interactive devices where users can look up additional information on artists, view music videos, and stream music to different devices from within the home.

The tablet device is designed to fall somewhere between these two categories, but it’s hard to see what new functionality it will bring to music content. When Apple introduced the iTunes LP product—essentially an expanded digital booklet of sorts for select iTunes albums—there was speculation that the initiative would reveal itself more fully when Apple introduced a tablet computer. It’s possible that the more portable tablet will inspire music fans to scroll through their favorite album booklets and associated material while lounging in the living room, streaming music through their stereo systems.

But it’s not even confirmed yet whether a tablet computer is even the device Apple will unveil. The company has bucked expectations before to introduce new products that either proved more or less interesting than what was rumored. Needless to say, the speculation mill is in high gear, and will only increase as the days to the event get shorter.