Updated: For the first time in a long time, an Apple press event will be live streamed to the public, the company announced today. Starting at 10 a.m. PT tomorrow, Apple.com will host a stream of the highly anticipated announcements of (if rumors and expectations hold true) updated iPods, iTunes rentals, and an overhaul of the Apple TV.
Update: As commenters have pointed out, this is not Apple’s first-ever live stream, just the first in a long time (and in the modern video era). Some of us vaguely recall a crappy 2004-era Quicktime video stream. If you can remember what happened, please leave a comment.
In some ways, this is the end of an era. Due to intense interest in what was being announced to a closed-door audience, Apple press events played a huge part in the birth of the art of live blogging. Sites like Engadget honed awe-inspiring team efforts to live blog every word out of Steve Jobs’ mouth and punch it up with snarky fanboy commentary, pictures and analysis, with fresh updates coming every few seconds.
To a lesser — but still significant — degree, Apple keynotes also helped streaming services like Qik get off the ground. Their early viewing records for livestreams were set by illicit video capture from the events. I know many people scramble around on sites like Justin.tv hoping to find a stream running during the event.
Since Apple doesn’t typically post video from its product launches until later in the day, demand for breaking news is incredibly high. Often, live event coverage influences the stock market. I’ve heard that even Apple employees drop what they’re doing during keynotes and tune into the live-blogs from their desks.
There’s clearly been latent demand for video from Apple’s events for some time, so I have to wonder why it came now. One potential factor might have been the trouble Jobs had getting a reliable network connection to do a live demo of the iPhone 4 at its launch in June, which he attributed at the time to bloggers using MiFi and similar devices to run their own Wi-Fi networks.
To be sure, many desk workers will still prefer text coverage to video. But the true fanboys and girls will want to see Steve for themselves in real time.
One interesting twist is that video coverage will only be available on Apple devices. This is a bit absurd, but I suppose it fits with the company’s passion for controlling the user experience. It’s possible the livestream is being used as the “gimmick” for the Apple TV relaunch, hence the OS X/iOS requirements. Besides, most watchers will be on a Mac or iOS device anyways.
Here are the viewing details:
Apple® will broadcast its September 1 event online using Apple’s industry-leading HTTP Live Streaming, which is based on open standards. Viewing requires either a Mac® running Safari® on Mac OS® X version 10.6 Snow Leopard®, an iPhone® or iPod touch® running iOS 3.0 or higher, or an iPad™. The live broadcast will begin at 10:00 a.m. PDT on September 1, 2010 at www.apple.com.
Meanwhile, we video industry watchers will have to hope that after the event Apple tells us how many people tuned in. It’s sure to be a lot.
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Photo courtesy Tom Coates.