TiPb Preview: "It's only rock and roll, but we like it" Apple Special Music Event

It's only rock and roll, but we like it -- Apple's 2009 iPod- and iTunes-focused special music event -- has a tag line and a date, this Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 10am PT, 1pm ET. TiPb will be live meta-blogging the event, and following it up with a special edition of iPhone Live! at 5pm PT, 8pm ET.

Last year's event, "Let's rock", started with Steve Jobs saying the reports of his death were greatly exaggerated, and went on to announce 7,000 apps and 1 million downloads in the App Store (yeah, that's changed by a factor of 10 or more!), 65,000,000 iTunes customers, iTunes 8 with Genius, new visualizations, HD TV Shows (and the return of NBC), and Album view, iPhone OS 2.1, the second generation "funner" iPod touch, Spore and other game demos from Phil Schiller, as well as new nanochromatic iPod nanos and down-tweaked classics, and headphones, and in-ear headphones, with remote and mic.

What, oh what, could this year possibly hold?

iPhone

iPhone news will likely come as an adjunct to the iPod touch. Apple may also mention AT&T getting MMS on Sept. 25th, but we wouldn't blame them for scowling as they do so...

  • iPhone 3.1 previewed as part of iPod touch announcement (to ship later). See our walkthrough for more.
  • New video out cables supporting 720p (and 1080p?). Sure it's unlikely, but it is possible and would be competitive with the Zune HD
  • Ringtones pre-fab style. Apparently they make money for Big Music and are too complicated for users to self-create using the process introduced at 2007's music event.
  • Scott Forestall will announce MMS for AT&T, and give them yet another stank-face for the delays and ongoing lack of tethering.

iPod touch

This will be the big news. The iPod touch platform is the future of the iPod platform, and it's closing the gap on the iPhone fast...

  • Camera, even if delayed. 3mp with video, just like the iPhone 3GS. Get ready Flickr and YouTube, you ain't seen nothing from Apple's mobile platform yet.
  • Mic. Hello ultimate VoIP handset.
  • Voice Control. With a mic, both that and VoiceOver should cross over easily.
  • All the above will, of course, require iPhone 3GS style internals. ARM Cortex A8 processor, PowerVR SGX graphics core, and 256MB of RAM.
  • Since the iPod touch has historically sported 2 NAND Flash memory slots to the iPhone's 1, double the storage is also likely. Yes, 64GB of goodness is definitely in the cards.
  • Priced at $199/$299/$399 for 16GB/32GB/64GB
  • Could Apple possibly pull an iPhone 3G and keep the iPod touch second gen at 8GB around at $99? We doubt it.
  • We also doubt an OLED screen, though the Zune HD will have one. If iPod touch does get it, will iPhone 3GS owners shed some not-as-bright-and-sharp-tears?
  • No iPod touch nano -- yet.

Other iPods

Microsoft is abandoning their non-touch iPod rivals, but Apple owns that market and they'll keep it going as long as it makes business sense.

  • iPod nano with camera (and mic?). It would need to sync content off, but so do most point and shoots.
  • iPod nano 32GB doubtful for an on-the-go device, so we could see price drops instead to clearly distinguish them from the iPod touch.
  • iPod classic hangs on one more year -- until the iPod touch hits 128GB. Throw it a camera bone, maybe?
  • Both iPod nano and classic could get the VoiceOver (though not Voice Control) upgrade.
  • iPod shuffle was revised already this year, so at most a price drop back to $50.

Apple TV

Stays a hobby. Sniffle.

  • Nothing. No TV recording or 1080p. (Imagine the bandwidth).
  • Okay, maybe -- just maybe -- HD TV rentals. (But what would they charge, $0.50?!)

iTunes 9

  • iPhone app management. 11 screens. 180 app slots. We don't need this, we need a mobile solution like categories or stacks or something, but this will do for now.
  • Kevin Rose asked for Social, Jens Alfke said Apple didn't get it. iTunes 9 will split the difference and stay with the steady, if uninspired type of integration already seen with Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook in iPhoto. Share your media tastes via Facebook and Twitter. (If there is something better, including a "social app", we'll swoon appropriately).
  • Ringtones, already mentioned.
  • "Cocktail" album packages. We're ambivalent about this, really. If Apple can wow us with amazingly integrated music, art, lyrics, and more, then we'll be pleased. If this is just some Big Music scheme to bring back DRM, we'll scream bloggy murder. Whatever the package, keep the music easily accessible in DRM free format, you hear us?
  • No Blu-Ray. That would require new Macs with Blu-Ray drives, and this isn't a Mac event. We'll revisit this in October.
  • TV rentals, per above, would be nice if unlikely still (we blame Hollywood).
  • Subscription music hasn't caught on, but that might just be because iTunes hasn't done it yet. Outside chance. Even outsid'er chance for TV/Movie subscriptions (and yes, we blame Hollywood for that as well).
  • Oh, and it will once again kill Palm Pre sync dead. (And we're not alone in thinking that)

Beatles on iTunes

  • Not going to happen -- yet. Too much money to be made on CDs and Rock Band first. (

Steve Jobs

  • If he shows, it's to show he's doing well but is he needed? Likely not here, not now, despite the whispers that would no doubt flood his absence.
  • "One more thing" Boom! Steve! would be swell, but we're betting he saves himself for the iTablet, which won't be tomorrow.

What Say You?

Well, that's what we think we'll see tomorrow. But what do you think? Did we miss something, everything? Let us know in the comments.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

13 Comments
  • Sounds like one hell of a good time.
  • We should take a poll as to the date and time Rene will post that the iTunes store is DOWN.
  • I've already got that post waiting in the queue, along with a disclaimer as to its perfunctory nature. :)
  • umm last year they announced 100 million app downloads, not 1 million
  • Rene I love you. I'd totally marry you and adopt a kid with you.. Is that weird?
    Anyway, I completely agree with this post :)
  • Good news is good, until its such good news that it overwhelms the servers and your online store crashes!
    Looking forward to tomorrow!
  • Well I think, Rene, that you hit the nail on the head with the forecast. But i'm sure our beloved Apple Inc. will pull a fast one, making that nail, slightly, bent. Ha and For all (me) who watch the following keynote available on iTunes shortly (days!) after the event is held, you will have to post that notice too so get that in your queue. Ha also, since college is obviously a huge factor in me not attending tipb whilst all this is happening, will you be tweeting twits via Twitter tomorrow too?
  • Very weird
  • This may go without saying, but for the iPod Touch to be the ultimate VOIP handset it would also need an earpiece unless it was always to be used as a speakerphone. Can an earpiece speaker and a camera fit back to back in a device as thin as the touch? I seriously doubt that the Classic gets a camera and I think they will hold onto it for the true audiophiles. To accomplish that, they would need to make it bigger, that way it will be more distinct from the nano and Touch. Form factor stays pretty much the same though. I agree with the other predictions - No tablet and no Steve Jobs and minimal improvements to the Apple TV.
  • i wonder if this means that apple will include limited iPhoto like functionality into iTunes. seems like it would be natural, especially for windows users.
  • What time is this on for people in the uk, please help some1. Thanks
  • I have a hunch that Electronic Arts showcases Madden 10 and mentions that it will be available for download after the event or shortly after.
  • Full list of event coverages: http://www.kostik.de/home/2009/9/8/list-of-live-its-only-rock-and-roll-e...