Apple iPod event predictions, long shot edition

Apple's "It's only Rock and Roll, but we like it" (liveblogged here) event will be Wednesday at 1PM Eastern Time. We all know that iPods with cameras are coming and there will be a new version of iTunes. Some think that's all. I like to think Apple has some surprises for us.

iPod touch with Cameras and GPS. iPod Cameras have been one of Apple's worst kept secrets in recent memory with case manufacturers showing their wares and prototypes making talk radio show fan pages. These new iPods will likely carry the same faster Samsung processor as the iPhone 3GS. In fact, unlike past models, they will be have almost everything the iPhone has...without the phone. This includes GPS, a compass, the camera and a Mic-in port making them even better VoIP phones.  The GPS/compass units are expensive ($15 per device) so I could see Apple skipping them on low end or all touches.

Speaking of iPhone, I hope to see Apple open the iPod touch to a wider audience by offering a sub-$150 device, using the same model they did with the iPhone: Keep a previous model around at a lower price. I've talked about the reasons for this at length but to summarize, this would open up a whole new segment of the population to the App Store and Apple's ecosystem.

The prices for the rest of the iPhones will be the same, with double the storage.

OLED screens haven't been mentioned but I'd be a little surprised if Apple let's Microsoft have the high end screen market. Maybe Apple will outfit its highest end Touch with one of these lovely new screens.

We'll likely see iPhone/iPod touch OS 3.1 in the coming weeks so why not at this event? The developer version of this has beenfrozen for a long time which makes me think there are big secret gamechanging things hidden and off limits.

iPod nano — It is getting a camera for sure and maybe FM radio and a new covering material according to John Gruber. They look to retain their original shape if all of the released covers are correct. It will be interesting to see how Apple does the camera software integration into the Nano/Classic. What if...what if, they run a scaled down version of the Touch OS.

iPod Shuffle — I frankly couldn't care less about the Shuffle but I think the current voice activated one is a flop. The old ones are still selling well — but are just gimmick gifts. Nobody really wants one of these. They settle when they really want a Nano or Touch but only have $30 to spend. I don't see much more innovation in this space. Maybe they'll shring to SD card reader size so they can fit into the new MacBook's SD card slot?

iPod Classic. This thing in its current form good as dead to me. But some people love to have ALL of their music and movies with them. So Apple will keep producing them - and 160GB hard drives fit in there so they might get an update. rumors have spread that these might also get a camera.

What I'd really like to see is the Classic killed off (relax! You still have the Nano!) and replaced with a 160GB iPod touch. I know I wouldn't mind the extra size so I could have a few seasons of TV shows on there. But alas, that's not the way things are moving and its likelihood is doubtful.

iTunes. If ever an application was in need of an overhaul, iTunes is it. Let's start with the name. 'iTunes' is about way more than just music now. In fact, for iPhone/Touch owners it is more like an iManager. You can still play music but I'd like to see Apple do something like have an iPod widget for that — or maybe an extension of Quicktime.

Blu-Ray support has been rumored but I don't see Apple doing Blu-Ray until they absolutely have to — which might be never. 1080P upgrades in movies/video/AppleTV/etc. might be good though. If your Internet connection can handle it.

Also, iTunes needs to be faster and more reliable. A ground up redesign is in order. A Linux version of iTunes would also be nice, especially with Google Android/Chrome en route. Redesigning iTunes as a Webkit app would be great for cross platform but it would lose all of that advantage and more in speed.

Social ties would be nice to haves, though I'm not sure I'd be excited about using them.

What would get me excited would be a streaming service option like Spotify. Apple has been rumored to be looking into this but it has never come to fruition.

MobileMe There's been lots of talk lately about Apple moving user music into the cloud. I like this idea but think there will need to be a hybrid/transition model beforehand. We might see the beginnings of this tomorrow. There have also been some rumored size increases of MobileMe Shares which might lend to this.

Beatles — Everyone on Earth has chimed in that this was not going to happen even though both events are on 09-09-09. I believed them too until Sky news posted a story that the Beatles were coming to iTunes. Sky retracted the story after a few minutes in the wild. But the damage was done. Sky has been silent on the retraction which makes me uber suspicious.

Crazy Stuff?

What happened to the Tablet? It was an unstoppable force a few weeks ago, now it is nowhere to be seen. If we are to get a tablet at this event, it will more likely be the "big iPod" variety rather than the small Mac variety. A 6-inch iPod has been rumored so perhaps this is when it sees the light of day. Maybe it will have that huge storage space as well.

Gaming console. AppleTV has been all but left for dead. Perhaps Apple is going to start over on the ARM platform and build a new system (with Beatles Rock Band as the headlining game title?). It would make sense to fold the iPhone platform into the AppleTV gaming rig so that the platform had 70,000 apps when it landed. I think Apple could really compete on price here. And versatility. Those are good first steps.

Finally: Steve Jobs — He's still extremely skinny and only working a few days a week currently. Do you want to see him up there on stage? Does he want to do it? Does Apple? It will be interesting to see. It is really a no-win in this department. You either get skinny Jobs or you don't. Hopefully a retirement or semi-retirement isn't announced.

And there you have it. Just about anything that can happen tomorrow ...

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