The question isn’t whether there will be another Apple (s aapl) event in 2009. The release of Snow Leopard and the introduction of new iPods guarantees that. The real question is whether there will be two events.
Not surprisingly, predicting what will happen with Apple has a lot to do with what has already happened. A good way to visualize Apple events and product updates is to imagine us all living on planet iEarth revolving around the sun that is Apple — really more like a collapsed star, so little information about new products escapes Cupertino, but still a solar mass. Apple events and Mac updates occur with (mostly) seasonal regularity. What follows this year follows from previous years, and that makes the remainder of 2009 very interesting indeed.
Until Apple effectively ended Macworld Conference & Expo in 2009, it always took place in January. The World Wide Developers Conference has taken place in June for six out of the last seven years, the last three of which featured new iPhones. Since 2005, Apple has held a music event every September to introduce new iPods. The last two years have seen an iPhone OS event in March. Updates to Macs most often occur in spring and fall, often March and October, and this is where stating the obvious becomes more interesting.
While the 13” MacBook Pro was praised by many in June, more than a few may have felt a little disgruntled. Unibody MacBook buyers from as late as May saw their shiny, silver laptops depreciate an extra $100 with the 13” MacBook Pro price drop, probably more considering the FireWire port and improved battery life. Of course, the Apple obsessed knew something was coming as soon as the unibody MacBook was passed over during the March update for Macs. Now, all the laptops have been updated, which brings us to the update history of Apple’s flagship desktop, the iMac.
Looking at the calendar, the spring/fall update cycle for the iMac is pretty obvious. 2006 was an outlier, that being the introduction of the Intel iMac. Also, last year the iMac missed an update, possibly because of the focus on the major redesign of the MacBook. Coincidentally, that redesign came a little over two years since the first MacBook was introduced. It’s now two years since the polycarbonate iMac was replaced with glass and aluminum model.
It’s time for the next major revision of the iMac. Rumors of Blu-ray drives and secret features aside, the announced release of Snow Leopard in September would seem to indicate an Apple event for Macs is imminent. The only problem is the imminent Apple event for iPods, and possibly a tablet, too.
While past performance is not necessarily an indication of future Apple events, there has been a pattern of iPod updates taking place after Labor Day. Whether this has been because Steve Jobs has been busy prepping for his tofu barbecue on the holiday weekend, or because there has been no Tuesday in September before Labor Day, has not been tested, until now.
That’s the first possibility, that there will be an Apple event on the first Tuesday or Wednesday of September, in which case the event will be announced around August 24. The best reason for an early September event for iPods, and possibly a tablet, would be a late September event for Snow Leopard and the iMac. It’s hard to imagine two events in September with the first one occurring on Wednesday, September 9, leaving just three weeks until the second. That’s a lot of preparation in a short time for a company as image-obsessed as Apple.
The other possibility would be a single event combining iPods, Snow Leopard, a new iMac, and possibly a tablet. This would be the mini-Macworld option, but if there is a tablet that seems unlikely. The tablet is a big, big deal, and more of a device for media consumption, like the iPod, or the Apple TV. The Apple TV was introduced at the Apple event for iPods in September 2006.
Of course, the third possibility is that Snow Leopard will be a silent update. Instead of an Apple executive introducing “the world’s most advanced operating system” on a brand new iMac, maybe with Blu-ray, the company will just quietly ship it to the stores. After all, it’s not like any other operating system will be launched this year.
So, two Apple events, first and last Tuesday in September, you heard it here first.