May 19 marks the 10th anniversary of Apple retail outlets and though a celebration is in the cards, what the company has planned is pretty much hush-hush.

Apple's outlets, opened first on May 19, 2001, means a lot to the company as they have helped position it as one of the most forward-thinking companies in the world and made it leapfrog past Google in terms of brand value.

So if anything at all, Apple won't be celebrating its 10th anniversary with just a simple press release.

And, thanks to the notoriously secretive nature of the company, rumors have begun flying think and fast on what Apple could possibly do to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Topping the wish-list of Apple fanboys, are new product launches or at least hardware refresh as MacBook, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, and iPods are due for an overhaul.

A new iPhone? A smaller iPhone perhaps? Or maybe a special 10th anniversary edition of an iMac? How about an Apple TV? Or a free MobileMe service? wondered aloud Cheryl, whose elder brother was among the first to step into Apple's Tyson’s Corner outlet when it first opened 10 years back.

Apple fans haven't ruled out software updates though the company has traditionally focused on software at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference that begins this year in the second week of June.

Other big announcements are also being speculated - new stores opening, a possible unveiling of iCloud and the announcement of an iOS app for the Apple Store 2.0. According to 9to5 Mac’s Mark Gurman, the rumored app's goal is to assist customers with their in-store experience by helping a user find a particular device at a particular Apple Store or if necessary, connect the user to an Apple specialist at the store.

According to some reports, Apple will also be preparing its customers to a whole new retail experience called Apple Store 2.0. Apple, which takes the personal setup service of its stores very seriously, is reportedly setting up new dedicated areas in stores called Startup Sessions where the new bars are said to be even more interactive. In addition, in Apple Store 2.0, the paper signage will be replaced by interactive iPads and in some select stores, customers will be greeted by huge, beefed up displays and brand-new sound systems.

iPod Touch-based point-of-sale wireless payment terminals are also reportedly being replaced by iPad 2 with magnetic Smart Covers and its proprietary in-house communications client known as RetailMe installed.

In conclusion, irrespective of whatever will be happening today and throughout this weekend and irrespective of whether , Apple is just preparing some special discounts or they're just redecorating, one thing is certain - thanks to the mysterious air surrounding the event, Apple stores around the United States, and possibly around the world, will be thronged by its cult followers, who will not mind standing in mile-long lines, their faces riddled with the anxiety and discomfort of someone terrified that they are behind the technological times.