Collected: What's coming next from Apple

Apple customarily hosts a special event in early fall (frequently around September) where the company likes to introduce new music and consumer products. Here's a cut-out-and-keep guide to all the current speculation as to what the company could reveal in the weeks ahead.

New iPods

This season's new iPods are currently speculated to include a new iPod touch and nano and -- potentially -- a new iPod shuffle featuring a small touchscreen display. iLounge notes these possibilities.

[This story is from the new Apple Holic blog at Computerworld. Subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat. Or link up via Twitter on the all-new feed.]

Fresh news from France today suggests the new iPod touch will maintain its existing chassis design, rather than offering a new iPhone 4-like look.

French Web site Hardmac makes these claims on basis of images purported to represent a case design for the new iPods.

This case clearly shows a camera aperture and also a small gap for a flash unit. From that I personally speculate we may see an A4 processor inside the iPod, which means the device will be able to run iMovie for iOS, making it a slick competitor to the popular Flip devices.

New iPads

There's some expectation Apple may introduce a new 7-in. iPad. This would straddle the gap between the existing model and the iPod touch/iPhone, and further boost iPad market share.

Should Apple deliver such a device, it will in one shot gobble up most of the supply of small touchscreens. Sources within the supply chain for these parts believe Apple will introduce this 7-in. screened device in November, which tallies with Apple's future schedule.

Apple TV

This rumor persists. The most recent reports claimed the device will morph into a $99 box capable of receiving and showing movie and TV video streamed via iTunes.

These reports also suggest the device will lack a hard drive; instead, it will be designed purely for streaming from the iTunes Store and a user's own iTunes collection.

That so much and so little is known about any future iteration of the product suggests to me that we aren't seeing the big picture.

For example, could Apple morph the Apple TV from its existence as a set-top box into a new model in which a small receiver unit enables Wi-Fi-equipped iPad, iPhone or iPod touch users to stream content directly to the TV screen?

Could the rumored 7-in. iPad instead emerge to be the new Apple TV, designed for use with a receiver? Will a future iteration of the device offer support for motion-sensing and controls? At present we can't even be certain Apple intends maintaining its product ...

iTunes

We already know Apple has enabled MobileMe app users to stream music from their iDisk to their iPhones, and we note that as of this morning none of the majors have complained, at least, not in public.

That in itself hints that Apple has some kind of tacit permission for this streaming of copyright content under some kind of arrangement with the big labels. That lends some credibility to the notion it intends wielding its North Carolina data center to deliver music, TV and film as a streaming service.

There's certainly a lot of activity behind the scenes of digital music. Warner Music Group dropped several hints at this during its financial call today, including the revelation that 41 percent of its income came from digital music.

WMG chair Edgar Bronfman said the music industry hasn't yet found an industry leader (once again that resentment at Apple surfaces -- I'm wondering what else there is that we don't know about the labels relationship with Cupertino that means they don't want to grant recognition to the company providing them with the lion's share of digital profits.)

"A number of companies are jockeying for position, [and] in their race to establish a position in the hierarchy, we see a great deal of opportunity. Our content is a critical enabler for them to be profitable," he said, warning that the next 12-24 months will see numerous opportunities for his company.

On the iPad he added,

"There's no question that video content is becoming more important, [and the iPad] puts more emphasis on video content, rather than just audio content." [Source: FastCompany]

We've heard the claims Apple will focus on TV for its next-breed of iTunes.

Bronfman's comments seemingly support this. For example, could we be looking at Apple offering music fans a compelling video experience?

All the music videos you ever wanted to watch for a fee, streamed from Apple's servers and chosen for you automatically by its Genius recommendation system. This is possible now.

Completely personalized music television -- perhaps even with ads (don't neglect several reports have noted that iAds don't seem set to roll out in full strength until a little later this year, November?)

In the UK, Apple ran a month of live events at the Roundhouse in London this month (iTunes Live). 60 bands played a series of gigs. These gigs were streamed as video to fans who couldn't get a ticket using Apple's own iTunes Live app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

This shows us Apple has a tried and tested infrastructure for live event streaming to multiple mobile devices. It could suggest a move into music television, but that is speculation. Though beginning with music video did once work for another major brand, MTV.

iLife

With the focus on the cloud, expect iLife to be more focused on sharing and cloud-based solutions. It is clear the suite will be accessible using almost any Apple device, as an app from the App Store or as standalone computing applications.

I've heard some word Apple has begun dedicating a slightly larger section of its available resources at iMovie development, which hints --- but by no means guarantees -- a release of iLife '10. Otherwise, the company will skip a year to deliver iLife '11 early next year.

One more thing

There's been one report claiming Apple's response to "Antennagate" is to accelerate release of the fifth-generation iPhone to early 2011.

That sounds unlikely, but consider the importance of the product to Apple's plans -- a report from research agency mobileSquared today claims that 10% of mobile phones active in the UK will be an iPhone by the end of 2010.

(The number of iPhones in the UK is forecast to rise 195% from 2.17 million at the end of 2009 to 6.4 million by the end of this year.)

This means Apple needs to keep plugging away to boost and maintain marketshare. It really depends how worried the company is with regard to perceived damage to the reputation of its iPhone brand and the continued advance of the Android army. A Changewave survey yesterday confirmed some damage has been done.

That Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg will deliver the opening keynote speech at CES 2011 this coming January has also ignited speculation of some changes in the iPhone world, at least in the US.

A warning

Apple-watching is not an exact science. Merely because you can speculate something may happen does not make it true. The five year development process for the iPad was matched by five years of rumor as to Apple's plans. These are the current speculations.

Note too that not every product improvement will necessarily see the light of day at the same time.

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