Apple has officially announced a 12 September event, and has issued a cryptic invitation illustration to members of the media. Here, we take a look back at some of Apple’s invites over the years, and puzzle over the message hidden in the latest illustration.

Apple’s 2008 WWDC invite hinted at two major launches, which turned out to be the App Store and the iPhone 3G.

The following year, Apple invited developers to the 2009 WWDC with a fairly easy to read invite, where it announced the iPhone 3GS that is depicted in the illustration, as well as iOS 3, Mac OS X Snow Leopard and some MacBook updates.

The iPhone 4S event’s invitation was extra cryptic, showing the date, time, place and product type through a series of four familiar iOS icons, with the tagline ‘Let’s talk iPhone’. The event also saw the launch of iCloud and iOS 5.

Earlier this year, Apple issued an invite for its third-generation iPad’s launch, which clearly pointed towards a tablet related launch. Apple also announced the Retina MacBook Pro at the event, as well as iOS 6, some updates to its other Mac ranges and more.

Now, Apple’s new 12 September invite has everyone speculating over the meaning behind the image. It doesn’t give much away, as there is no sign of a product in the invite at all. We can see a large, black number 12, which indicates the date of the event, with an even bigger number five being cast as a shadow.

Many suspect that the 5 refers to the iPhone 5, which is likely to be unveiled at the event. However, after Apple dropped the number from its third-generation iPad, simply naming the device the new iPad, it was predicted that Apple would do the same with its sixth-generation iPhone, naming it the new iPhone instead.

Others have suggested that the 5 could refer to five new product launches. This could include the new iPhone, an iPad mini, an update to the 10in iPad, an advanced set-top-box, a 13in Retina MacBook Pro and an update to the iMac.

See also:

Photos of an iPad mini mold spotted at IFA reveal thin design and smaller dock connector
Photos of iPhone 5 battery leaked, compared with iPhone 4S
What to expect at Apple’s 12 September event