Given the rumors culminating today in the Tuesday, January 26th Special Media Event mother of all rumors, the speculation about the when is only compounded by the what, and on that raging inferno of fantasy, TiPb is once again wondering if maybe not only (or not even) an iTablet fits the bill -- but an iPhone 4.0 unveiled early in advance of an iPhone HD.

Yes, we're speculating about iPhone HD again (not just 5 megapixel cameras, thanksfortheflash). As we've noted many times, iPhone 3.2 has been screamingly loud in its absence, and one of the reasons we keep hearing being whispered is that's because Apple's investing all their energy into iPhone 4.0.

In the last year, devices like the Android Droid (and especially Nexus One) and Windows Mobile HD2 have been in-Apple's-face about taking it to the iPhone in terms of size and quality of the displays, and while TiPb was straight-up wrong in thinking Apple would give us an iPhone HD in 2009, could they afford not to, competitively, make that jump in 2010?

If they do, it will break the much-ballyhooed "single platform" model of the iPhone that so appeals to developers, but that's already straining under GSP/no-GPS, cell/no-cell, Cortex A8 processor/old slow, processor today. Apple will need to suck up the screen size break at some point, and if they do, holding an event in January rather than March like they've done for the previous two years would give developers more time to adapt their applications to fill an (AM)OLED WVGA screen (480 by 800something).

No other change, not 802.11n, HD-TV out, WiFi Direct, iTunes TV subscriptions, even multitasking or better notification system, the ever-popular glowing Apple logo, or even a shift to multi-core chips, will likely affect more developers in more ways than a jump in screen size. And if Apple is planning to show off an iTablet, either in January or in the near future, getting developers thinking about resolution independence sooner is much better than later.

Could that be why there's signs of iPhone 4.0 and a 4th generation iPhone? Or is that just part of the regular cycle just like years past, and this just more fanboy-fed speculation, just like years past?

In January 2007 Steve Jobs showed off the almost final Apple TV and introduced the iPhone. In January 2010 could he show off the iPhone HD and introduce the iTablet?

(Tip of the hat to antonioj for speculative re-enforcement)