Apple watchers are speculating that the company may introduce new iPods, Beatles content for Apples iTunes store or perhaps an enhanced iPhone ring-tone feature at a media briefing Sept. 5 at the San Francisco Moscone Convention Center.
The event is titled "The Beat Goes On," according to the invitation sent to the media. The invitation mimics the Cover Flow interface seen in the iPhones iPod functionality, showcasing an image from one of Apples iPod ad campaigns.
The introduction of new iPods make the most sense, given the context of the event invitation. Its been over a year since Apple last refreshed the iPod Nano and full-sized iPod lines, about as long as Apple has let those products go without change. And the iPhone has introduced a new visual paradigm that has generated a great deal of buzz even among those who didnt want to shell out for the phone.
In addition, the holiday gift-buying season, during which Apple has historically seen iPod sales spikes, rapidly approaches. And although this is circumstantial evidence only, the most discussion at Mac rumor sites has been focused on new iPods.
To read about Apples latest refresh of the iMac, click here.
Many rumor sites consider attention from Apples legal department to be a signal that the material in question is close to the truth. Leaks relating to iPods are what is garnering such attention recently.
In July, Web sites 9to5mac, MacRumors.com and YouTube all said they were asked by Apple to remove content.
What was shown on MacRumors and YouTube supposedly represented interface changes for an upcoming iPod revision. The new interfaces came close to the iPod interface on the iPhone, with support for Apples iPhoto and the animated Cover Flow feature.
Click here to read about the improvements power users want to see in the iPod.
In the same month, 9to5mac put up images that it said were mockups of a new iPod Nano that featured a squarer shape than existing models. Not long after, the site also exposed what colors the new iPod Nano would come in, and showed what it said were "spy photos" of the items.
Web site Think Secret seconded the veracity of these photos. Think Secret staff, writing for PC Magazine.com, have also said they expect new iPod Nanos at the Sept. 5 event.
In addition, Think Secret said, Apple might announce a touch-screen version of the full-size iPod, bringing a more iPhone-like appearance and functionality to the iconic digital music player.
Previously Think Secret said some sources intimated that such a model, which could sport 100GB hard drives, might not appear until 2008, but most recently the site wrote that such a device, which 9to5mac called "iPod Touch," will in fact debut.
Think Secret also seconded some iPod Nano rumors, adding that the new model could include higher-resolution video playback and a more animated interface.
Other, non-hardware-related rumors have also surfaced.
At the end of August, the New York Post wrote that Apple will work with major record labels to offer a ring-tone-for-sale service, which would sell users the ability to turn songs sold via iTunes into ring tones.
The worldwide market for ring-tone sales is a huge and hugely profitable one, though its not clear if an Apple ring-tone-making tool would involve a cost per song, add a fee onto an already sold tune or merely require a one-time fee for the tool.
VNUnet wrote a report that Apple will introduce digital radio functions to the iPods. This would allow users to listen to digital radio and purchase content heard over it.
Apple remains the top digital music reseller despite repeated pressure from recording industry players that prefer DRM (digital rights management)-based subscription models. A digital radio function could allow iPod owners to listen to new, free music, as a subscription model does, while continuing to support iTunes sales.
Another wireless rumor comes from LoopRumors, which said, "future iPods will wirelessly control iTunes." This could mean an iPod could be used to wirelessly control the playback of iTunes on a home computer or stream content from the iPod to speakers via Apples AirTunes.
Finally, many have also speculated that the event will see the announcement that iTunes will gain content from the Beatles. Apple and Apple Corps, the record label that published the Beatless music, have long had tense relations due to the overlap of their names and Apple Corps long-running dispute with distributor EMI Group over royalties.
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