Besides computers, Apple also exerts influence on the consumer electronics market through its iPods, iPhones, Apple TV set-top box and iTunes content store. ((Paul Sakuma/Associated Press))

Organizers of North America's biggest technology expo have confirmed that iPhone and Macintosh computer maker Apple won't be at the show, contrary to what many industry observers have speculated.

"They are not currently slated to exhibit," said Sarah Myers, spokeswoman for the Consumer Electronics Show, which is held in Las Vegas every January.

While the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs the event, accepts registrants right up until the show begins — it runs from Jan. 7 to 10 this year — it would be very unusual for a big company to have delayed signing up this long, she said. Many of the big exhibitors, such as Microsoft, Panasonic or Sony, book their floor space a year in advance.

Apple's growing size and influence in the consumer electronics market has, for some time, fuelled speculation among industry observers that the company would finally join the annual Las Vegas event, which usually draws 140,000 attendees. Apple's announcement late in 2008 that it would no longer participate in Macworld, an annual event usually held in San Francisco around the same time as CES, kicked that speculation into high gear.

The Wall Street Journal reported in the summer that Apple would be exhibiting at CES, but quickly issued a correction that said the company's status remained unclear. CEA head Gary Shapiro told the newspaper he had invited Apple but that chief executive Steve Jobs wouldn't return his phone calls.

An executive with a major electronics maker who asked not to be named recently told that he was "90-per-cent sure" that Apple would be at the show.

A spokesperson for Apple said the company does not comment on rumours or speculation.