So, here we go again. September, and various tech blogs posting Apple’s invitation and various rumors. I’ll chime in with my own 2 cents.
The biggest rumor is a new Apple TV, dubbed iTV, which is rumored to be an iOS powered set-top box for $99. I don’t know. Sure, with Google TV, Apple probably feel they need to pay more attention to the Apple TV. Thing is, Apple’s invitation shows a guitar. A new iTV imo would be very significant to warrant a focus on itself, and a guitar kinda tells me the focus in tomorrow’s event will be music/iPods. Apple has a tendency to hold smaller events at a more frequent basis nowadays, so we could still see iTV next month or something.
Now let’s get to the focus of music.
The rumors are saying iTunes X (iTunes 10) with longer music samples (up to 1 minutes from 30 seconds). Another rumors would be 99cents TV-show rental. I don’t know. I don’t think any of those would be significant. What people would want by now is ability to stream their music collection from the cloud. What I want is wifi syncing for iPad.
2. iPod shuffle
I don’t think anything will change. You can’t really do anything more to a button-less piece of metal. Currently, Apple is selling the 2GB for $60, 4GB for $80, and special 4GB edition for $100. I don’t think this can get any cheaper, although a $50 price point would be possible. I do think we will see new colors like the nano, just like the trend on previous shuffle. My guesses (along with new colors):
-Price drop across the board: 2GB for $50, 4GB for $70.
-2GB gone, replaced by 4GB for $60, leaving a better gap for the iPod nano price points.
I’m going with the first guess. Funny thing is, usually you can kinda make an educated guess based on the pricing of the refurbished iPods. However, I don’t see the shuffle being available refurbished.
3. iPod nano
The big rumor is a re-design tot a smaller square shape with maybe a clip ala the shuffle on the back, based on pictures of cases. Apple had put the nano in a weird spot by putting a video camera in it last year. It would be odd, although not impossible, for Apple to regress and take out a big feature. Then again, the guitar picture on the invitation mean a focus on music, and Apple’s smart marketing can spin things be saying that they are focusing on music. So, in addition to the form factor change, a bigger rumor would be that the face of the new nano would be touch-screen, something that I had thought about last year. If this is the case, then Apple would have to re-invent the software, unless they can squeeze down iOS, eliminating everything other than the iPod functions.
Some people argued that Apple wouldn’t change the nano’s form factor that radically. Well, remember the iPod mini? Apple replaced that with the nano just after 2 iterations. If you look at the nano history, we are at that 2-year point with the current design (4G and 5G). The only question is the camera, as at that smaller size, something got to go. Or, Apple could simply have another lineup. In any case, the pictures of the new form factor case are too significant to ignore. I think Apple would ditch the camera (remember, there’s still the iPod Touch), spinning it as re-focusing the nano for music.
So, my guess is that the new iPod nano will have the new form factor, touch screen, with a new UI with the menus revolving ala coverflow. I just hope Apple is not skimping the software (like shuffle by album, which is still ironically missing in iOS). Price wise, it depends on how aggressive Apple want to be. They could just keep the same price points ($150 for 8GB, and $180 for 16GB), or something more aggressive like $100 for 8GB and $150 for 16GB (justifying the loss of the camera, while leaving a better breather room for iPod Touch pricing).
4. Lastly, the iPod Touch.
The iPod Touch is becoming the most important iPod for Apple, as it’s the gateway to the profitable app store. With the last year’s Touch not getting anything worthwhile (other than the upgraded internals), I think this year’s Touch will be receive a significant update. iOS 4 will be the first obvious feature, complete with a rehash of folders and multi-tasking. Another obvious feature would be a front-facing camera for Facetime. Apple already stated during the iPhone 4 announcement that there will be tons of Facetime devices by the end of 2010. The feature being added to the Touch is pretty clear.
So, what else. The form factor doesn’t seem to change much based on the leaked case pictures, definitely not the iPhone 4 design, Those pictures also show a hole on the back, probably for a back-facing camera, although I don’t think it will the the same camera as the iPhone 4. I’m guessing it’s going to be the 3GS’ camera, 3MP and VGA video recording, thus giving a better excuse to take out the camera from the nano. I do hope for iMovie to be compatible with this iPod Touch as it’s likely it will have the same A4 chip and RAM as the iPhone 4. I mean this could be a true flip competitor, having a video camera with editing and uploading capability on the device itself (if Apple can put the 720p camera in the Touch, then yeah, the flip is dead).
As for the screen, I’m guessing the new Touch will also get the retina upgrade. However, I don’t think it will be cheap, thus Apple will still keep the 3G Touch for the lower price point, just like their strategy with the iPhone.
So, my prediction:
We will see the 4G Touch sporting front facing camera + Facetime, back facing camera (3GS style), iOS 4, A4 chip, and retina display, and keeping the same price points. $300 for 32GB, $400 for 64GB. The body material, however, will not be as sleek as the iPhone 4, probably to keep the cost down. I mean $300 for the retina display sounds too good to be true. The current 3G Touch will sport 16GB and hold the $199 price point, still being touted as a gaming device.
5. The iPod Classic.
Ah, yeah, the iPod Classic. The iPod that is now at an extremely odd place. It didn’t receive anything other than capacity upgrade last year. Unless Toshiba managed to make a higher capacity hard-drive at the same form factor, the 160GB capacity is kinda maxed out. Thing is, there is virtually no competition anymore in this space. MS gave up on their hard-drive based Zune. Apple is the only player in town. They could just keep it the way it is. Or maybe just a price drop, $200 for the same 160GB. Or, they could scarp the iPod classic altogether as the money making machine is the app store. I’m going to go with a simple price drop, $199 for 160GB.
I do wish for Apple to transition the Classic to flash memory, with the same form factor but unibody aluminum case. But obviously the flash memory price is the problem.
There you go, my predictions for tomorrow’s Apple event. The best part is, apparently Apple is going to do a livestream of the event, something that they have not done for a long time. I will also be following Engadget’s and gdgt’s live blogging.