Apple events are a time to reflect, ponder, and, of course, baselessly speculate like there's no tomorrow in which reality will shatter those fragile ruminations. The truth is that nobody knows what Steve Jobs will announce when he takes the stage at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center on Wednesday - not even Steve Jobs.
Well, maybe that's not entirely true. But as with every Apple event, you can bet that plenty of people will be disappointed when their pet rumour--or rumored pet: an Apple-branded parrot, anybody?--doesn't materialize onstage. Then again, Apple is hardly going to roll out its entire product roadmap--for one thing, the Liquidmetal cyborg death army isn't done with quality assurance yet; it keeps melting into puddles on the floor, then people step in the puddles, and oh, it's a mess.
But even without Apple announcing everything and the kitchen sink (patent pending), there will undeniably be new products, or, most assuredly, there will be blood. Remember, Macworld will be covering the event live, bringing you the oohs of amazement, the ahhs of pleasure, and the terrified screams of a crowd confronted with Apple's new all-John-Tesh-all-the-time music streaming service. It all kicks off on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.
So, what might we see appear out of the sparkles of a nifty Keynote transition during Jobs's presentation? Here are the top contenders.
A new iPod touch: It's the odds-on favourite, a new version of Apple's other iOS device--er, its other other iOS device? Rumors have the iPod touch acquiring a Retina display, front- and back-facing cameras (and FaceTime support), a new iPhone 4-inspired design, and--so iPod touch owners don't get to feel smugly superior to their iPhone counterparts--a finnicky antenna. You know, just because.
A revamped Apple TV iTV: If the third iteration of the Apple TV fulfills all the whispers out there, it will cost $99, stream content from the Web (including Netflix in the US), gain the ability to run iOS apps, feature a touch-sensitive controller, be renamed (again) to the lawsuit-inducing iTV, and at long last drag the living room, kicking and screaming, into the future. But consumers will still not be satisfied until it makes HD waffles and educates their children.
The 6G iPod nano: The poor little nano, the last of the once-proud iPod line (hush, iPod classic, back into your rocking chair). The appearance of supposed third-party cases for the device suggest a squared-off form factor reminiscent of the third-generation nano, perhaps even with a touch interface that does away with the Click Wheel of yesteryear. Perhaps it will be the unholy offspring of a nano and a shuffle, requiring a new moniker altogether: may I suggest the "iPod anathema"?
iTunes 10: This is a media event, after all, and what's more central to the Apple media experience than the lumbering behemoth that is iTunes? While it seems likely Apple will introduce iTunes 10, it's unclear what features it will bring beyond support for all of the fancy new gadgets the company is expected to unveil. But really, what other features could you pack into the software by now? Perhaps Apple will just go all out and announce that we will now navigate our Macs entirely via iTunes.
Streaming/TV rentals: They may say content is king, but Steve Jobs sure as heckfire didn't get that memo all the way up on his unibody-aluminum-and-glass throne. He's reportedly been haggling with Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch to get the rights to rent the company's TV shows for 99 cents a pop, based largely on the success Apple has had with that price point for both music and apps. This after a rumored plan to stream TV shows reputedly and not-even-remotely-surprisingly fell into disfavor with content providers. Paying to rent shows will almost certainly appeal to the seven people who haven't figured out how to stream programs from the Web or download them illegally. Sadly, none of those people actually watch television.
Of course, there are plenty more rumors to go around: updated versions of iLife? An update to Apple's pro media apps? A seven-inch iPad? Steve Jobs performing a medley of selections from Glee? You won't want to miss a single moment, which is all the more reason to be sure and follow our live coverage. In the meantime, fill up the valuable comment space below with your own predictions as though your lives depended on it--for they very well might.