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What’s in store for tomorrow’s Apple event? It’s possible only Steve Jobs and whoever creates his Keynote presentations know for sure, but that’s not gonna stop us from making our best guess. So get out those rumor checklists and see how yours matches up.
As usual, rumors surrounding the event run the gamut from fairly far-fetched to the safe bet. That said, the whole fun of Apple’s (s aapl) press events is that you can never really count out the left-field possibilities, thanks to Steve’s now famous “one more thing” stunts. Here’s a look at what rumors are being tossed around, and which ones I’m putting my money on.
Apple TV has been little more than a hobby for Cupertino to date. It’s not a bad little device, but platforms like Boxee and Netflix (s nflx), which can operate on all kinds of different hardware, or support a wide variety of file formats, are limiting its living room presence.
It makes sense that Apple would target the Apple TV for a major overhaul. According to a number of sources, that overhaul will see a name change (to iTV), a smaller storage capacity (4GB) with a focus on streaming, a switch to iOS as the software that powers it, and, accordingly, the arrival of apps.
While I don’t doubt that Apple has big plans in store for the iTV, I find it very unlikely that we’ll see its introduction tomorrow. Changes this big would merit their own press event, and I don’t think Jobs would want to bury such a major overhaul amid exciting new iPods and changes to iTunes’ services. Which brings me to my next point…
Everyone’s favorite poorly-named media management and library software will almost certainly see an update tomorrow; that much is clear. What exactly that update will entail is much less so.
The big rumor regarding iTunes right now is that Apple will introduce 99 cent TV show rentals, available only 24 hours after their original air date, for a rental period of up to 48 hours. It’s a definite improvement over the current price tag for owning shows ($1.99 and $2.99 for SD and HD, respectively), but you also miss out on actually owning the programs, as there’s no re-watching later.
Another rumor puts iTunes in the cloud, including streaming music and video directly to users’ devices, possibly even on a subscription-based model. This is a general rumor that’s been around for a while, and isn’t necessarily tied to tomorrow’s event. I don’t think we’ll see it tomorrow, but it’s definitely something Apple is testing the viability of, you can be sure.
iTunes probably won’t go to the cloud, but it may go to the web. According to Peter Kafka of Media Memo, the next big update for iTunes could see it relocated to the web, where a lightweight, more easily accessible version would put the emphasis on music’s social aspects, allowing users to share their tastes with one another. This would actually be a natural extension of the recently introduced web-views for iTunes store content, and I think we could see it tomorrow, though I don’t think it’ll completely replace the iTunes desktop software.
Finally, CNET is reporting that Apple is going to double song preview length in iTunes. This rumor feels pretty sound, especially since it isn’t very exciting.
We will see new iPods tomorrow. Apple always updates its iPod line in September, and it isn’t about to change that now. Among those new devices will be an iPod touch with a camera. Whether it’ll have two cameras and FaceTime is still open to debate, but likely. Recent rumors that it’ll also sport a 3G antenna are also interesting, but I would say unlikely for this iteration.
The iPod nano and shuffle could both also see updates tomorrow in what appears to be an exciting new form-factor, possibly incorporating a 1.7-inch touchscreen. Personally, I think the nano will retain its video-friendly current form factor, and the shuffle will get the updated design, which will put an emphasis on control, the main area of complaint customers have regarding Apple’s most diminutive media player.
A third possibility is that the new form factor will be an entirely different class of iPod altogether. It could be to the iPod touch what the shuffle is to the nano, i.e. a barebones, limited storage device without app support and only a few utilities in addition to the iPod music player, like a clock and calendar. I think Apple is looking to streamline, not complicate its iPod lineup, though, so if there is a new device like the one I’ve described that doesn’t get the “shuffle” moniker, expect it to replace the shuffle altogether.
Last and least, we have the clickwheel iPod classic, the old Clydesdales of Apple’s lineup. I see at most maybe a capacity boost, if Apple’s determined to keep it around, but you can bet that with its focus on iOS and touch computing, the iPod classic isn’t long for this world. Who knows? It could be “out with the old,” as well as “in with the new” on the menu for tomorrow.
What do you think is in store for tomorrow’s event?
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