Folks, it’s not as if there were too many surprises at Apple’s music event. I could say, in retrospect, that the thing happened on my birthday, and that Apple is aware of that information, but that would be the height of egomania. The fact is that the event happened at a time convenient for Apple and appropriate to jumpstart the iPod lineup for the forthcoming holiday season.
As usual in recent years, the mainstream media had its own share of predictions for the Apple product introductions, but they seemed to share with the rumor sites the main assumptions about what might happen, for better or worse.
For the most part, it seemed most were skeptical that Steve Jobs would return as host of the event, but you can bet Wall Street was watching the situation closely to see if Apple’s co-founder had recovered sufficiently from his recent liver transplant to appear in public. Indeed, he did, to a standing ovation. It was also interesting to see how he remembered the young man who died in an auto accident and hence gave him a chance to survive.
No, Steve didn’t seem fully recovered yet, and his voice was hoarse, but considering his recent ordeal, it may take quite a while for him to seem his old self again. At least they didn’t bring him out in a wheelchair, right?
Now in the run up to the great event, there were also claims about possible production difficulties that might delay the introduction of the new iPod lineup equipped with a camera, but that appears not to be true. Or at least, they weren’t significant enough to delay shipment to any noticeable degree. Now understand that the Flip Video camcorder, with which the new iPod nano will inevitably be compared, is the standard definition version. However, this is a version 1.0 feature, so there may indeed by HD on the horizon, perhaps as soon as next year. If Apple could offer an iPod nano HD for little more than the standard version, the makers of the Flip Video may find their product to become as unpopular as the Zune. I’m serious!
I also expect that the management of Pure Digital Technologies is going to watch the situation with extreme concern, since Apple is encroaching right into their core market. It’s also telling that the nano now offers an FM radio, and you wonder what too them so long? The iPod touch takes the product line into a whole new universe, since it’s basically a small personal computer.
I’m still working with iTunes 9 and the iPhone 3.1 software, so I’ll withhold comments until later. However, I’m not the sort of person to go wild over a new iTunes release. So long as it works and allows my iPhone to sync properly, I’m a happy camper.
As usual, though, a lot of attention has to be focused on what Apple didn’t talk about. Sure, this session was never presented as anything more than music-oriented, and thus, aside from the demonstration of fancy new iPhone and iPod touch games, Apple stayed on message.
But with the remastered versions of the Beatles catalog now available — and backordered already — you wonder when the Fab Four will be available for legal digital downloads. It’s not as if Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are getting any younger, and how many times can they sell you the same old songs, as great as they are, before you move on to something else? They ought to strike while the iron is hot. On the other hand, maybe the Beatles management decided they didn’t want the lads to play second fiddle to Steve Jobs or some quaint digital music players. If that’s the case, there may indeed be an announcement, only it won’t happen for a while.
Also missing from the roster was the fate of the Apple TV, Apple’s hobby that manages to sell in sufficient numbers to remain profitable, but evidently not much more. You see, I’m not at all convinced of the mass market potential for such a gadget. Certainly the Windows initiatives to add media capabilities have all fallen flat. It’s not as if you really need another DVR for your high definition TV either. Even if you don’t buy TiVO, the ones provided by the cable and satellite companies are all perfectly serviceable, right?
Of course one rumor has it that Apple is going to jump into the TV fray with its own contender, but in a market where other participants are exciting the market, it would seem a bad move to make. Besides, it’s not as if a large flat panel TV is easy and convenient to buy at an Apple Store and take home, unless you have a pretty large vehicle, and a few bodies to help you carry one.
And, yes, there will probably be yet another Apple announcement this year, perhaps next month. No doubt it’ll involve an iMac refresh of some sort, but that’s hardly unexpected. As to an Apple tablet, don’t ask!