Apple Prepares Music-Themed Sept. 1 Event

Apple's preparations for its Sept. 1 event have kicked into high gear, with signs that the announcement will focus on music. Rumors suggest either revamped iPods or possibly a new Apple TV.

Apple's Sept. 1 event in San Francisco will most likely involve a music-related announcement of some sort. The proof? The front of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where the shindig will be held, now features a giant image of an acoustic guitar with an Apple logo-shaped sound hole.

The blog Apple Insider has posted an image of the building's new decoration.

The rumor-mill is churning in high gear over Apple's possible announcements. Analysts and pundits seem to agree that Apple, in keeping with tradition from past years, will use the event to unveil new iPods. However, other scuttlebutt has focused on the prospect of a revamped Apple TV and new media-content deals.

A recent report from Bloomberg suggested that Apple is negotiating with content providers, including CBS and News Corp., to offer television shows for rental via iTunes. Rented episodes would cost 99 cents and last for 48 hours, according to unnamed sources close to those negotiations.

That rental-rumor dovetails with the Apple TV gossip, promoted through blogs such as Engadget, which suggested the company's streaming-media box will be relabeled "iTV," cost $99, and feature the ability to run apps.

The tech industry's renewed focus on the television as a digital hub, as highlighted by Google's recent announcement of its Google TV initiative, could have persuaded Apple to give the product another look. During a Goldman Sachs technology conference in February, Apple COO Tim Cook famously referred to Apple TV as the company's "hobby," suggesting that other devices took far more precedence.

Apple's North Carolina server farm, currently under construction, is the focus of still more media-related rumors-specifically, that Apple will offer a streaming media service along the lines of Pandora or Netflix.

"The company has indicated that the data center is on track to be completed by the end of CY10 and it will begin using it then," Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, wrote in an Aug. 26 research note quoted by AdWeek. "With Apple's growing family of connected devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV, and Macs) it only makes sense that Apple would deliver a cloud based media service to leverage its competitive advantage in the space: devices."

The iPod-refresh rumors have centered on an iPod Touch with a front-facing camera, installed with Apple's FaceTime video-conferencing service. "An iPhone parts supplier sent us these photos of what are claimed to be the front LCD and bezel of the upcoming [fourth]-generation iPod Touch," read an Aug. 5 posting on the MacRumors blog. "The new part clearly shows a front-sided hole that would leave room for a front-facing FaceTime camera."

Depending on the Apple-centric blog and the day, other possible upgrades could include a touch-screen iPod Shuffle or iPod Nano.