Apple Online Store Down Ahead of Today's Media Event

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With Apple's media event scheduled to kick off in under three hours, Apple has taken its online stores around the world offline. The change is standard operating procedure for Apple ahead of major events and new product releases.

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The primary focus of today's media event is expected to be the second-generation iPad, a new set of photos of a mockup have been spotted by M.I.C gadget and getting some attention today.

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While the device is a physical mockup, it is said to have been based on the actual design of the second-generation iPad, which has been floating around amongst case manufacturers for some time and yielding increasingly-detailed mockups such as this one.

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In addition, Your Daily Apple claims that a listing for the second-generation iPad briefly appeared on Amazon's German site, listing a 1.2 GHz processor, camera, Thunderbolt connectivity, and an on-sale date of March 17th. We do not, however, necessarily believe this to be accurate inside information.

Beyond the new iPad, Apple has been rumored to be previewing iOS 5 and revamping MobileMe. Last minute hints of a social-focused MobileMe revamp include claims of some sort of 'social' app for iOS devices, and a trademark filing for "Places" in the area of social networking.

Books from publisher Random House also began appearing in the iBookstore for the first time earlier today, and Apple may offer some discussion of the addition.

Update: iLounge reports that a case cover proximity sensor hinted at in iOS 4.3 may in fact make an appearance in the new iPad in the form of a magnet that could grip the front of folio-style cases and automatically lock and unlock the device. We had previously heard that the rumored proximity sensor might in fact be a magnetic Hall effect sensor.

iLounge also claims that we may not see immediate availability of the new iPad, at least in significant quantities, with volume shipments not expected for 2-4 weeks.

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