What to Expect From Apple’s Fall Event

I don’t make predictions. But I read a lot of them. And repeat the ones I like. Some swirling around Wednesday’s Apple event (10 a.m. Pacific)…


Nearly everyone expects Apple TV to be renamed iTV and go on sale for $99 ($130 less than the current model). One hold out, NewTeeVee’s Darrell Etherington:

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.

Another consensus bet, an iTunes refresh. Speculation around the acoustic guitar logo for the event has it symbolizing iTunes unplugged. “I think we see cloud itunes baby!”

CNet:

We’ve long imagined a Web-based version of iTunes that could store and organize all our music and media in the cloud without bogging down our computers. The full realization of this dream is probably still a ways off, but we think that Apple may take a big step in the right direction by opening a Web-based music store. … With Apple’s acquisition of online-music retailer Lala in 2009, it would seem taht Apple has everything it needs to bring iTunes to the Web (at least for music downloads).

LaLa technology, and the massive new $1 billion Apple data center in Maiden, N.C., help make the other big iTunes rumor credible: 99¢ TV show rentals available 24 hours after the original airdate and viewable for a 48 hour window. PC World is the contrarian on this one. Their Peter Smith says, even if it comes, iTV isn’t a Game-Changer:

In my experience there are two kinds of television watcher: those who pay and those who don’t. The ones who pay have cable. They might gripe about the cost, but they pay for it. For these people iTV could arguably be a way to catch up on the odd missed episode, but there are already services like Amazon Video-on-Demand and Hulu for doing that.

As to the people who don’t pay for TV, they’re going to keep getting their TV the way they do now: via torrents and services like Hulu or SurfTheChannel.com. They’ve been getting by on these services until now…why should they suddenly start paying? If you watch a show every night, that’s $30/month that they aren’t spending now, and for no extra benefit to them.

Until iTV (or some other service) can completely replace cable (and what that really means varies from individual to individual), the paying folk aren’t going to switch and iTV will remain a ‘side service’ to the feed coming in from the cable company. I’m not saying it’ll never be a big deal, just that the launch is only the first step of a long journey.

That sounds game-changey to me. The very reason Apple IS a game-changer is it takes proven technology that’s already out there, designs, optimizes and packages it with the Apple sheen, and does it all at the exact moment consumers are ready to embrace it. Cable subscribers have wanted à la carte programming for a very long time. If Apple gives it to them on Wednesday they will finally have made Apple TV a success.

And, anyway, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler topped Techmeme this week with his observation that The Full-On Assault On Cable Is Underway, “even if many don’t realize it yet.”

The main event of the Fall press event is traditionally the iPod. Expect to see an iPod touch with a Retina display, a camera, maybe two, and maybe FaceTime. The Nano will become all screen and the Shuffle stays as the entry-level player. The clickwheel classic stays and maybe, as a device popular among DJs (where once they hauled around milk crates filled with vinyl records, now the Classic is their carry-case of choice), gets a memory boost.

iLife, too, could get a refresh tomorrow. This could be cool:

- iLife Mystery App is a Make Your Own App Tool? Rumors of iLife ’11 suggested a brand new app would be introduced with the iLife ’11 suite. We’ve heard an unconfirmed whispers that the new app could actually be a way for end users to create simple apps and deploy them directly (not through the App Store) to their iOS devices. Is Apple returning to their Hypercard roots? It’s hard to say how feasible this would be.

If you own a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod, you can watch the event via livestream, “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.” You can also follow along via Engadget’s Joshua Topolsky’s liveblogging.

LATER: All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka agrees with Smith that iTunes Rentals Aren’t Game-Changers:

Bear in mind that you still won’t get to watch any ABC show via iTunes until it’s already aired on TV. And bear in mind that this is in lieu of the product Apple really wanted to sell: $30-a-month Web TV subscriptions.

That doesn’t sound like a tectonic move to me. It sounds like the TV industry protecting its core businesses–advertising and cable fees–while playing around at the margins looking for incremental dollars. [...]

Maybe that stuff really will get devalued, a la music, because most people steal it or ignore it. But we’ve been waiting for that moment for some time and it hasn’t shown up yet.

I guess it’s all in how you see the game. Or understand change. Radical breaks don’t happen. Transformational change occurs right before our eyes even as we barely notice it. People didn’t buy TV shows for 2 bucks five years ago because the timing wasn’t right, we were more mired in an ownership mindset, and 99¢ is a more appealing price point. This is how the game changes.

TWITTER EXTRA — Apple prediction tweets:

@philipberne, “high expectations, then disappointment, followed by game change in 6 months, then imitation. Oh, and new nano.”

And, “The TV device will have either proprietary outputs or obscure outputs you don’t use, with adapters for $25 each. + a dock.”

@Bakertweets: “The “iBank”. Buy it, put your money in it and send it to Apple. It’s just more efficient that way.”

@strngwys, “Apple TV ships with Netflix streaming, but only movies without nudity.”