Predictions for the September 1 Apple Event

Lots of predictions have been made for the Apple event scheduled for Wednesday, September 1. Here’s my list and notes on each.

1. 60 second song samples in iTunes. According to one of our editors, the music industry has gone with 60 second samples on other services to take some wind out of the iTunes sails. Apple finally gets parity. But is this mildly embarrassing change important enough for Mr. Jobs to bring up? Probably not.

2. iPod Touch with camera. This is a big deal. The iPod touch is a very popular product, and adding both cameras combined with FaceTime will take it off the charts with high school and college students. Just how Apple will solve the technical issue with an iPod touch not having an AT&T phone number remains to be seen. Some other device identifier will come into play. This one looks good to me.

3. iPod nano shrinks, absorbs shuffle. AppleInsider refers to people familiar with the mater: the iPod nano will shrink to the size of an iPod shuffle, gain a small 3 x 3 cm touch screen and still retain the 30-pin connector. This might make the shuffle obsolete. This rumor seems to be based on some solid information, yet the scope of all the options presented by AppleInsider seems to suggest that Apple hasn’t yet made up its mind. This one is hard to call.

4. iPod touch with 3G (data). Like the iPad 3G. Apple seems to be toying with this idea in order to reinforce the family tree schema of the iPod touch and the iPad. Some have even proposed that the iPod touch will be renamed the iPad touch (or maybe the iPad mini?) and that the former iPod nano becomes the iPad nano. Where that leaves the rumored 7-inch iPad is anyone’s guess.

5. iTV. This is the most exciting rumor. Engadget and Bloomberg have both strongly suggested that Apple will retire the Apple TV and replace it with a small US$99 iOS-based device that customers can use to stream video from iTunes. That’s not new — the Apple TV can do that. What we’re waiting to see is if the iOS device will be allowed to run all iPad apps. That would bring the competing Netflix and Hulu apps to the iTV. That’s dicey and reflects Apple’s ongoing struggle with how to embrace and/or compete with those services.

In concert with the new iTV, or whatever Apple decides to call it, Apple is said to be in discussions with the networks to offer commercial-free TV shows streaming for 99 cents. This adds credence to the iTV hardware rumor.

With the fall TV season upon us, I’d say Apple has to do this now rather than later. The limiting factor is the courage of the networks.

6. Apple Data Center roll out. Apple’s Data Center in Maiden, N.C. has been the subject of much speculation. At first, many thought that it would become a new cloud for iTunes allowing customers to listen to their purchased music from anywhere. Lately, the focus has shifted to video. To be sure, no one really knows what’s in store for that 500,000 sq ft, US$1B facility, and no doubt it will have multiple uses. We may find out about just one on September 1. Recall, however, that Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said it won’t be completed until the end of calendar 2010. So Apple’s current data center may have to carry the load for any new services right now.

7. A new iPhone 4 with a revised, fixed antenna system.  This is anyone’s guess and based on a dubious rumor. Because it would leave a bad taste in the mouth of so many iPhone 4 purchasers, a major update so soon seems unlikely to me.

Have I missed any? I believe #1, #2 are a lock and #5 contingent on a new iTV streaming service deal with the networks.