The reason this is even a subject again is because of an oddly (and perhaps tellingly) vague piece posted on the the WSJ's Digits blog by Ben Charny, who flat out claims that that Apple plans to use CES to replace Macworld, which it walked away from last year:
Apple plans to attend the show's 2010 version, marking the first time in memory the Cupertino, Calif., consumer-electronics giant will be there.
That sounds clear enough, but it's buried in a piece that otherwise seems to be about how the chief executive of the CEA, Gary Shapiro, can't get in touch with Steve Jobs. But hey, he's probably just being vague, and drew his conclusion from quotes that he didn't include! That's what journalists do, sometimes! Except the meeting from which Charny drew his conclusion was a dinner with multiple attendees, one of whom happens to be ex Engadget editor and current CEA advisor Ryan Block. He took issue with Charny's reading of events:
[I]t's also specious and flatly wrong. I was seated directly across from Gary, and present for the entire conversation, wherein a dozen or so other journos chatted with him and one another. When asked about the CEA's ongoing contact with Jobs, Gary joked that every once in a while Steve might even return his email — to which we all laughed knowingly. Yep, that's our Steve. Shapiro went on to mention that Apple was a great and long-standing supporter of the efforts of the CEA, but that their only direct involvement was sending a check each year to pay their membership dues.
As far as the WSJ post goes, this is pretty damning. But it really just rules out Charny's version of this dinner, not the possibility that Apple will actually go to CES. As far as that question goes, we're left with the same evidence we had last time rumors like this went around, all the way back in January. The verdict then, and still, is that they probably won't: January's a pretty terrible time to launch new products, but more to the point, Apple doesn't even care about industry trade shows—which CES epitomizes in all the worst ways—anymore. Their statement from all those months ago hasn't been followed up:
Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers. The increasing popularity of Apple's Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the Apple.com website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways.