Plausible cause

30 August 2005

The rumor mills are going nuts today with speculation about Apple’s recent stirrings: They’ve planned a “music event” for this Sunday Wednesday, September 7th – that, coupled with the fact that they have been working with Motorola on a mobile version of iTunes. Am I the only one who’s doubting some of the predictions these sites are churning out? First of all, I’ve learned to never underestimate Apple’s ability to throw a curve ball. I didn’t see the iPod (1st generation), the shuffle, iPhoto, or the move to Intel coming. They were all announced amidst rumors that I completely disregarded. I’d like to think that I’ve become balanced.

That said, I am not too young (a Mac-fan and devotee) to remember such forgotten rumors as the Mac car or the new tablet/pda (which still exists, I guess). Rumors, in general, are dangerous. The key in deciphering Apple-related gossip is to think about cause and motive. Why is it in Apple’s (current) interests to [fill in the blank]. How would they benefit? Does [fill in the blank] keep them on the same roadmap they’ve been using?

That’s what I’m asking this week as we await the iTunes phone, possible iPod [mini] updates, and the infamous video iPod.

The iTunes phone

I forget who said this, but I like it: “Think about it, Steve Jobs has a cell phone and curses the thing every time he uses it.” You know it must be true. From the crummy OS/interface, to the useless apps, to the sub-standard sync capabilities … everything about todays mobile is positively anti-Apple’s style. If Apple wants to complete their journey, giving its consumers the best experience for their digital lifestyle, the cell phone must be on the agenda.

So, sure, start with the music app. Why not? It’s a perfect segue from the iPod to the iPhone. Choosing Motorola is obvious since A) Sony is out of the question, 2) Samsung’s OS is even worse than Motorola’s and d) the sexy RAZR phone is as close to Apple’s hardware heart as the PowerBook G4. (And yes, when Apple and Moto got into bed I’m sure the then-in-development RAZR was shown to Jobs.)

I believe we’ll see at least some kind of cellular convergent device introduced this weekend. Whether it’s the ROKR, the iPhone, or just the E790 with iTunes mobile. (What’s the difference? Ellifino.)

The video iPod

I think we’ll see it this weekend. However, I don’t think we’ll see an iPod that can play just any .mov you stick on it. I think we’ll get the ability to play whatever videos are downloadable from the iTunes Music Store (e.g. music videos, exclusives, etc.). It remains to be seen whether or not a new “section” will be launched within the store for just videos, but I think the lack of rumors surrounding this particular item denote it’ll be delayed.

My prediction is that the iPod upper line will be bumped to 60 and 80 GB models and support video playback of DRM’d videos from the iTunes Music Store. Look for price points starting at $499.

A flash-based, color iPod mini

I’d buy one. Beyond that, I haven’t the foggiest what to expect in this category. Again, however, I emphasize my learned ability to never underestimate Apple.