At least one rumor panned out during Apple‘s Sept. 9 event at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts: Steve Jobs, looking thin after months on medical leave, took to the stage to introduce a range of new products.
“I now have the liver of a kid in his 20s who died in a car crash, and was generous enough to donate his organs,” Jobs told the audience. “I hope all of us can be that generous, and also become organ donors.”
After that somber note, Jobs proceeded to introduce a revamped iTunes 9, which includes a music-sharing feature and a cleaner layout, and a new iPod Nano with a built-in video camera and FM radio. The device includes a 2.2-inch color screen and retails for $149 for an 8GB model and $179 for a 16GB model.
The price of the 8GB iPod Touch had been reduced to $199; the 32GB iPod Touch, to $299; and the 64GB Touch, to $399.
Before the kickoff for the high-profile event, rumors swirled about other products and services being introduced. Among the biggest ones:
Sept. 9 was aiming to be a huge Beatles day, between the release of “The Beatles: Rock Band” and the digitally remastered versions of the Beatles studio albums, which led some bloggers and pundits to opine that the Fab Four’s catalog would end up on iTunes, as well. Precisely why they thought such a thing is a question for the ages, but like many a rumor propagated on the Internet, it gained speed and momentum to the point where you half-expected to see Paul and Ringo step onto the stage to play “Come Together” with Steve Jobs.
Except, well, none of that happened.
“The Beatles and EMI have some differences to work out,” Jobs told USA Today on Sept. 10, adding, “We’d welcome them with open arms.”
Nobody seemed to reasonably expect that the Sept. 9 event would see the debut of Apple’s long-rumored tablet PC, which scuttlebutt says will roll out sometime in 2010. However, the rumor refused to die that Apple would at least give a hint or two about the device, which reportedly occupied much of Steve Jobs’ attention even while the CEO was on medical leave.
Rumors over the past few months have suggested that the Apple tablet PC will feature a multitouch screen, running either the iPhone OS or Snow Leopard. There could also be multiple versions of the device, at multiple price points, running different operating systems. In an Aug. 7 research note, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster postulated that a tablet would fill in Apple’s product line between the iPod Touch and the MacBook and produce nearly $1.2 billion per year in revenue for Apple if sold at $600 per unit.
An iPod Touch with a Camera
Since summer, rumors have floated that Apple plans on integrating a camera into the iPod Touch. In July, the blog MacRumors.com published spy photos of what was claimed to be an iPod Touch case with a camera hole. At the same time, TechCrunch reported, via Asian sources, that Apple had ordered a massive quantity of $10 camera modules.
However, the only device rolled out at the event with a camera hole was the iPod Nano, and Apple seems determined to position the iPod Touch as more of a gaming device-something that can compete against similar mobile offerings by Nintendo and other companies-than as a potential killer for portable digital camcorder devices such as the Flip.
Death of the Traditional iPod
A decline in sales of iPods was the one dark spot marring Apple’s otherwise-robust earnings report last quarter, with sales of the devices declining 7 percent from the same quarter in 2008, to 10.2 million units sold. At the time, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer claimed to analysts during the July 21 earnings call that the dip in sales was due to “cannibalization” of traditional iPod sales due to the increased prevalence of the iPod Touch and the iPhone.
That may have been what started rumors that Apple planned on easing its traditional iPod line out of existence, starting with an announcement during the Sept. 9 event. However, the only announcement regarding the traditional iPods was that the $249 price point would be maintained despite the Classic’s capacity increasing from 120GB to 160GB.
If you define “traditional” iPod as “a device that simply plays music,” however, it seems that Apple has long since doomed that particular model to the scrap heap of history, in favor of multifunctional multimedia devices. The Sept. 9 event, if anything, just nailed that particular point home.