Okay, so the title doesn’t quite cover it. Apple is hosting a press event at the Moscone center September 5th, 2007. The Moscone center means get ready for some major product announcements. It’s not at the Apple campus in Cupertino, it’s at the Moscone center. So small little things like a new iMac aren’t going to be able to hold a candle to what’s coming out tomorrow.
Most of the regular technology blogs have given their take of what’s coming tomorrow. These sites base their information on what “insiders” tell them and some creative extrapolation based on these tips. So they have to try and stay somewhat entrenched in reality. Me, not so much.
As a true Apple fanboy (who doesn’t even own a Mac, FYI), I have to put down what I think is going to be announced tomorrow. If I’m wrong, meh, nobody reads this blog anyway so who cares.
Full-Screen Video iPod
A full-screen iPod Video, based on the same platform as my beloved iPhone. Expect the OS of the iPhone, but don’t expect any of the web features. So take away the WiFi, the cellular modem, the Bluetooth, the mail client, the web browser, the other stuff. Expect the other stuff that iPods have always had, including a new line of games that have been tweaked to work with the touchscreen experience. I’m split on HD/Flash at this point. Flash is so cheap, but Apple loves margin. Hard drives break, flash basically doesn’t. But a 16 GB iPod Video seems like a pretty limited replacement for the 5G iPod. So I’m going for a standard 5G thickness unit with a 1.8” hard disk, probably up to 120 GB at the top end. It’s unfortunate, but they need to keep the storage kings happy.
iPod Nano with Video
A video-capable iPod Nano with a size upgrade is likely. Some new colors are possible, along with new memory sizes including maybe a 16 GB model on the top end for those Apple Lossless freaks like me. Of course, that’s a big maybe. The price points will likely remain the same with the base model now being 4GB (face it, flash is freaking cheap). Video is a given considering their continued push into video on the iTunes Music store.
iPod Shuffle 2GB
The shuffle goes 2GB for the base model. Come on, you can get 2GB flash drives for under $14 on sale, make the move on the shuffle. Some new colors if you like, whatever, I don’t care.
Media Management (iTunes)
iTunes still sucks when it comes to media management. All videos show up together and there is no way to organize a large library. There is also no way to really enable any genre-specific parental controls. What does this mean? Your porn shows up in the same video folder as Barnyard. That ain’t good folks. iTunes, the iPod Video, and the Apple TV need to be upgraded to support advanced media categories for all types of media: music and video. And the tools need to be available to block the kids from even seeing cover art for things they, well, shouldn’t see.
Apple added Bluetooth as a standard feature to their products long before other manufacturers and have continued to support the standard. There are a few companies making great stereo headsets that support A2DP and AVCP but music players have been slow to add support. Well, this might be the time for that to be added. Perhaps the Nano will gain Bluetooth headphone support, allowing it to be used without any wires during your workout. I know the Motorola S9 would be a good workout set to use while listening to your Nano tucked away in your shorts.
Wireless Products (Airport Extreme, etc.)
Could Apple update the Airport Extreme to support 802.11n? Not likely. The iPhone only supports 802.11g, as will any possible WiFi that might end up in the regular iPod. It sure would be nice to be able to stream your iPod to the Airport Express, but that’s not expected. Battery life would certainly be impacted, so I just don’t really expect it. The iPhone is the networked device, leave the cost low on the other items. Of course, the Zune has wireless so WiFi seems to make sense but only really for the full screen unit. And then you’re talking about the hard disk units (unless they drop drives completely) whose battery life is always an issue. I don’t know, but I don’t expect much here. I’d love to see it, as we’d likely see any new features as an iPhone update on the same day (if not shortly afterwards).
If they do support WiFi, they need to support Last.fm (or some wonderful .mac clone of the service) to allow social sites to pick up on what you’re listening to on your iPod. After all, it’s gotta be social.
Could any product be as neglected as the Apple TV? Without third-party tools like Handbrake and without YouTube content, the Apple TV is a real turd. I own one and it has limited usefulness. Sure, we’ve ripped many of our DVDs into our iTunes library (which is of course a generic folder called Videos) so we can easily throw something on for the kids to watch without digging for the disk. And we can navigate our music library from the home stereo (which with over 8,000 tracks spread over more than 600 CD’s and iTunes downloads can be a real chore since there is no search feature). I’m really hoping for more on the Apple TV, but I doubt it based on what they’ve done so far.
They had better add some features to the iPhone. Video coverflow maybe, better Bluetooth support (A2DP perhaps), more widgets, games, ringtones, basically everything that people have been hacking into the phone. Of course, I’m not going to cry if they do nothing.
iTunes Integration with External Media
Okay, it’s obvious that companies are starting to jump ship. NBC, Univeral Music, and other content owners are trying to break from iTunes. But how should Apple respond? Integrate. Just like with iTunes support for podcasts, they took an open format and made it easy to get the content on your iPod. So if other online stores add DRM-free content (Amazon, Universal, others) delivery, I think iTunes should make it very easy to import that media in your iTunes experience. iTunes is all about the iPod/iPhone. It’s all about making it very easy to get content on your Apple hardware. If other sources of content become available (as it was with podcasts, particularly video podcasts) they should quickly make it easy to use that content on the top selling hardware player: the iPod.
That’s all, I’m done ranting. I’m excited about the new products because they likely mean upgrades to products that I already own. Expect a follow-up of my take on what really happens after the announcements tomorrow.
And yes, I’ll likely be at the Tulsa Apple store after work tomorrow checking out the new gear…