September 1: Apple reinvents television?

Apple-watchers will be filing September 1 into their diary as that's when Apple is now expected to host a special event to introduce its new products for music and television, including a 99-cent TV show rental service.

MacRumors sources claimed the September 7 date. Loop Insight later clarified the event will take place on September 1. These sources also point out that the date coincides with the end of Apple's 'Back to School' free iPod touch offer.

The event is now expected to see Apple introduce a TV show rental service, which seems likely to field some form of cloud-based component, based on previous reports.

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Bloomberg claims Apple is in advanced talks with News Corp. to let iTunes users rent TV shows for 99 cents each.  

A later report claimed Walt Disney is also in the frame for the service, though CBS and NBC are reluctant to sign-up for fear of denting existing iTunes profits.

From Bloomberg: "Viewers would be able to rent programs from News Corp.'s Fox for 48 hours, said the people, who declined to be identified because discussions aren't public. CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co., where Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is a board member and the largest shareholder, also are in talks about joining the effort, the people say."

More affordable TV show rentals is likely Apple's response to problems encountered by the company when it tried to agree an online TV subscription service.

About the Benjamins

TV content producers were understood to reject these overtures because they felt the service would damage cable and satellite television incomes.

TV episodes will reportedly be made available within 24 hours of going on air and will be free of commercials unlike most on-demand services.

That's the kind of resistance Google is facing right now as it attempts to wean just a little interest from content providers in its own try at a TV service, Google TV.

That only US content providers are thought to be involved in these discussions at present underlines expectation the new TV service will be introduced in the US only, at least initially.

Apple likes to keep its pre-launch negotiations as secret and small in scope as it can.

In a sense, this rental model undercuts purchase, but it's the way the world is going," said Tom Adams, president of Screen Digest Inc., speaking to Reuters.

Adams notes that existing ad-supported TV show services don't make much money for networks, while Apple's plan could generate serious income, particularly in the event it maintains its customary 30/70 revenue split in favor of the content provider.

CBS is actively exploring new digital models now, telling analysts during its financial results call earlier this month,

"We're going to be trying lots of things with Comcast to put our media online and our content online. By the same token, it doesn't limit us to do other deals outside of it."

There's an interesting discussion on the future of TV here.

Apple TV becomes iTV?

As discussed previously, Apple is thought to be putting together the successor to the Apple TV, which may be introduced as iTV, at least outside of the UK where that name is already occupied by a household name in TV broadcasting.

The new gadget is expected to cost $99 and will run some form of iOS -- you'll be able to run games on the thing. The move to rentals also means Apple TV users will be able to stream video to their sets.

iPod touch

Apple is also expected to introduce a new version of the iPod touch. As I've said before this is likely to feature both back and forward-facing cameras, will be capable of FaceTime video chat and of running the iMovie app for video creation.

It will also host an A4 processor and a new high-res display. We're also expecting a gyroscopic sensor like the iPhone 4,

Here's a video clip of some of the components to the device which have begun reaching repair shops (apparently).

This focus on television seems likely to be the theme of Apple's September event -- taking place as it does a fortnight before the beginning of the main prime TV season in the US.

WMG chair Edgar Bronfman has previously said, "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

That focus on video will also see Apple perhaps introduce a 7-inch iPad model, which should mop up whatever's left of the tablet/netbook market.

Note: This story originally claimed a September 7 date for some form of special event. This has now been revised on news Apple has announced its special event for September 1.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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