Let’s be frank: We all know Apple’s hosting a September event, as it has for the past several years. But this year’s keynote is shaping up to be a bit more interesting than usual, thanks to the frenzy of iPod, iTunes and tablet rumors. Plus, of course, the return of Steve Jobs.
True to form, Apple hasn’t confirmed a thing — not even the existence of an event on Sept. 9 — leaving us to assess the rumors based on the best evidence we can find.
Of all the predictions, which are likely to come true? Let’s take a hard look at everything you can realistically expect from this event, which will reportedly take place Sept. 9 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center.
New iPods With Cameras, Microphones
Apple’s September events have traditionally revolved around iPods and iTunes, so it’s obvious this will be the theme of the event. But what, exactly, about the iPod? There’s a pile of evidence suggesting Apple will release new iPod Touch and iPod Nanos with cameras.
Wired.com in July received an inside tip from a well-connected source claiming Apple would soon add a camera and a microphone to the iPod Touch, which would bring it closer in line with the iPhone. Additionally, several other publications reported similar rumors about the Touch and the Nano getting cameras. And the latest iPod-related rumor comes from Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, which claims that not only will the Nano and Touch receive cameras, the iPod Classic will, too.
We’re confident the Nano and Touch will be upgraded with cameras (and, of course, increased storage). Cult of Mac’s Leander Kahney had us convinced when he published a gallery of third-party Touch and Nano cases, which feature holes presumably meant for cameras. (See photo above)
However, we’re doubting the iPod Classic will gain a camera. It’s unlikely Apple would want to invest much more in this product, because its sales have shrunk considerably, thanks to the success of the iPhone. Last quarter, the iPod accounted for 18 percent of Apple’s overall revenue, compared to 55.5 percent in 2006. Also, the iPod Classic is the only hard-drive-based iPod remaining in the iPod family, and flash-memory prices are plummeting. Would a camera really boost this device’s appeal and make it worth the investment? We don’t think so.
One more thing: Because the iPod Touch is basically a phoneless iPhone that many use as a gaming device, the next logical step would be for the iPod Touch to get a performance boost to bring it up to speed with the new iPhone 3GS. We’re so confident in this prediction that we’re willing to bet a Chevy Chevelle on it.
The current version of iTunes, iTunes 8, is nearing its one-year anniversary, and an update to version 9 is likely. The Boy Genius Report published a rumor report claiming iTunes 9 would sport new visual organization features to arrange iPhone apps. The blog also received screenshots (see right) purporting to reveal iTunes 9 would feature Facebook integration to share playlists with friends using the social-networking site.
A visual-organization tool would definitely make sense — it would mimic the ability to move around the iPhone’s icons on its springboard. We find Facebook integration probable as well. The latest versions of QuickTime, iPhoto and iMovie each have features that enable sharing media with social networks (i.e., YouTube and Flickr). And in general, an automatic playlist creator integrated in Facebook just sounds like a pretty clever idea.
More foggy is a rumor reported by Financial Times that Apple is working with four major record labels to boost music sales by reinventing digital album art. The collaborative effort is codenamed Project Cocktail, and the idea is to entice music fans with a compelling digital package that will get them to gather around notebooks to listen to music together. How exactly would album art do that? It’s unclear. However, Financial Times is a credible publication with solid music sources. Expect this part of the keynote to deliver the biggest surprise.
No Apple Tablet
Though the release of an Apple touchscreen tablet now seems inevitable, it’s unlikely this will be announced in September. Some publications cite anonymous sources saying an Apple tablet will be announced this fall, while others claim it will launch early 2010. We’re betting early 2010 is more realistic.
That’s because Apple is no longer participating in the Macworld Expo trade show to launch new products, and the company would be wise to save its biggest news to compete with other companies announcing new products at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Why fire all the ammo in September?
Apple’s rumored tablet, which has been described by tipsters as a larger-screen iPod, is shaping up to be the most anticipated gadget since the iPhone. It could make 2010 a very exciting year. We’ve speculated it will be the “year of the tablet,” citing sources claiming Dell, Intel, HTC and other tech companies are preparing tablets to compete with Apple.
The Return of Steve Jobs
We all miss Steve Jobs, even though his employees might not. Nobody can deliver a keynote quite like ol’ Steve. CNBC’s Jim Goldman said on Twitter that Jobs is “very likely” to appear at the Apple event. That’s good news, and if true, his return would make this a very momentous event.
Excited? We are, too, and we’ll keep you plugged in. Keep reading Gadget Lab, or follow @gadgetlab and @bxchen for updates on the upcoming event.
Images, top to bottom: Manzana/Flickr, Cult of Mac, The Boy Genius Report, Gadgets Guy/Flickr, Jon Snyder/Wired.com