NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL - Get Report) CEO Steve Jobs is said to have held a secret meeting with top executives from the The New York Times (NYT - Get Report), where he apparently gave executives an iPad demonstration and talked about how the device will "serve the future of media."

Apple's iPad
Apple's iPad

New York Magazine reports that Apple recently booked the cellar dining room at the tony Pranna restaurant on Madison Avenue for a talk with 50 executives from The Times. Steve Jobs was a surprise VIP guest. Citing an unnamed source, the magazine says that the Apple supremo walked into the restaurant wearing "a very funny hat -- a big top hat kind of thing."

The meeting, which took place on Wednesday, also included The New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

Apple is already touting its eagerly-anticipated iPad as a competitor to the e-readers that have appeared in the last couple of years and has launched an iBooks app for downloading books onto the device. Offering newspaper content would be a logical next step for Apple, and The Times has been closely monitoring the development of iPad technology as a way to deliver content.

The newspaper industry has already made some tentative steps towards delivering content on e-readers, such as Amazon's ( AMZN) Kindle deal with The Washington Post ( WPO). Unlike the Kindle, however, Apple's iPad offers both color and touchscreen features, not to mention the iconic Apple brand.

Touchscreens could allow newspaper publishers a new means of delivering content, particularly for gadget freaks and hip, young urbanites. Tablets such as the iPad may even prove key in opening up new revenue streams as newspaper stocks claw their way back after years of falling sales and layoffs.

In September, The Times confirmed, in an email to TheStreet, that it was "prototyping concepts that we think would be compelling should a tablet-like device be released by Apple." But the paper said it was not working with the Cupertino, Calif.-based company. A spokeswoman for The Times declined to comment on Jobs' reported meeting and the company's iPad plans when contacted by TheStreet Friday. Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Despite all the rumors surrounding Apple and The Times, there are still big question marks about how a relationship will work out.

The Times recently announced plans to charge for frequent access to its Web site, although this reportedly had nothing to do with Apple's iPad launch. New York Magazine has also said that publishers such as The Times are wary of an Apple deal, citing concerns that an iTunes-style deal would cut them off from their readers and make online services difficult to monetize.

Last year Web site Gizmodo said that The Times had been working on its tablet project for some time, explaining that the newspaper's R&D teams have been developing versions of the paper that can be navigated without a keyboard or mouse.

With Apple and Amazon expected to lead the e-reader race, the space is becoming much more crowded.

Software giant Microsoft ( MSFT - Get Report) is getting in on the act with its Courier touchscreen device and Sprint's ( S - Get Report) forthcoming Skiff has been grabbing plenty of attention.

Incidentally, Jobs is said to have ordered penne pasta and a mango lassi during his meeting with The Times' top brass.

Apple shares rose $1.40, or 0.73%, to $193.45 on Friday, as the Nasdaq rose 0.1%.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York


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