It's Apple's version of a Thanksgiving tradition. The company tells customers that there will be a Black Friday sale (which is no surprise) but doesn't tell anyone what those deals will be.
What do we know: the event begins online at 12:00 midnight on Black Friday ... PST, mind you. Yes, that means it's 3:00 a.m. for those on the East Coast, but hey, you'll be up anyway for those stores that open at 5:00 a.m.
Meanwhile, Apple Stores will open early, too. Apple Stores will open at 7:00 a.m. local time. Much as their savings will be, the time adjustment is modest, too.
That's right, if you want the best Apple deals, you won't find them at the Mother Ship. Apple's savings are, in general, much more modest than at other stores. Of course, Apple also has a bigger supply of Apple hardware than anyone else, if a sell-out is something you are concerned about.
On the other hand, we've already covered a number of Black Friday leaks from those retailers that have better deals than Apple.
For those hoping, sorry, the iPhone 5 was just released. Do you really expect any iPhone 5 deals? However ...
Target: Virgin Mobile's iPhone 4S will be $499.99 with a free $100 Target gift card. Don't think $499.99 - $100 is expensive; remember that Virgin Mobile doesn't require a contract, so compare that with the price of a contract-free AT&T iPhone 4S.
Best Buy: the 8GB iPhone 4S (with a two-year contract) will be $1.
MacMall: MacMall and Best Buy are in the minority here. MacMall, for example, is discounting the iPad -- a cash discount. For example, the base model fourth-generation iPad (16GB, wi-fi) is $473 (-$25).
Best Buy has an online deal, but only on Thursday. The iPad and iPad 2 are both $60 off, for any storage tier in the wi-fi only class.
Otherwise, everyone else seems to be sticking to deals with a discount involving a gift card -- which guarantees the store more sales, but if you like the store ...
Target: the base fourth-generation iPad will be $499, and the iPad 2 will be $399, but both include a $60 Target gift card.
Walmart: The iPad 2 comes with a $75 Walmart gift card.
Here, with the deals we're aware of, MacMall is the best bet. For example MacMall has the 13-inch MacBook Air for as low as $1,097.98; it normally starts at $1,200. The big third-party Apple reseller will also have the new 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with a retina display at $1,597.99.
You can see MacMall's Black Friday ad here.
Modest or not, we still expect Apple Stores to be crowded on Black Friday. After all, it's where the Geniuses live, right?