Apple Inc. on Wednesday afternoon raised the speculation that it will update its line of iPods, and possibly its Apple TV set-top box, by sending out invitations to the media to a special music event at the Yerba Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco on Sept. 1.
Apple has historically held a media event in September in which is has unveiled new or updated models of the digital music and media players.
In keeping with Apple tradition, the e-mail invite is slim on details, featuring a 9 a.m. registration time, directions and a music-themed illustration.
Last year, the Sept. invite featured a version of Apple’s iconic dancing silluete. This year, the invite, which shows the Apple logo superimposed over a guitar, gives a clue that whatever will be announced at the event, will be music-related.
As we already said, it’s widely expected that Apple will unveil the new iPod Touch, which will hopefully be redesigned to look like the iPhone 4 and, more importantly, come with a front-facing camera for FaceTime videoconferencing. There may also be a new iPod Shuffle.
However, there are also rumours that the company could announce a new cloud-based version of iTunes and the improved Apple TV, rebranded “iTV.”
Last month, technology website, Boy Genius Report, said that Apple was on the verge of launching the update to iTunes, which include the ability to stream content from a PC to an Apple device and the wireless syncing of content between all devices.
There has been growing speculation that Apple could be considering launching a cloud-based version of its iTunes. Apple acquired Lala, a music-streaming service, for $17 million in 2009, while competition from other services, such as Spotify, could also be spurring its move in to cloud-based streaming and content delivery.
The iTV is expected to be a slimmed down Apple TV with a slimmed-down price — $100, as opposed to the $230 currently charged.
Unlike its predecessor, which features a 160GB hard drive, the slimmed down iTV likely won’t have a hard drive and will require broadband connection. The video output on the new device would be 720p, not the full high definition of 1080p — a difference most people won’t notice.
Even with new content providers, the iTV may not achieve the popularity of other Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Even Apple CEO Steve Jobs isn’t holding great expectations for the reportedly renamed “iTV,” according to a Bloomberg source.
“Even with the refresh, Jobs isn’t convinced the new version will be a mainstream hit, says the person familiar with Apple’s plans,” Bloomberg’s Peter Burrows reported.
“Most consumers aren’t ready to cut the cord on their cable company, or put up with the tech-nastics required to stream content from the iTunes collection on their PC to their living room big-screen TV.”
Apple is currently in content deal talks with News Corp.’s Fox, CBS Corp., NBC Universal and Walt Disney, Peter Burrows wrote. “The content deals would give Apple users access to some of the most-watched shows on TV.”
Industry watchers speculate that this may be Apple’s new offensive on content companies that offer online video, such as Hulu and Netflix.
The new Apple TV, or “iTV” is expected to feature an app store that will allow users to download specific shows and channels. Its three-year-old Apple TV predecessor allows users to purchase or rent Hollywood movies and TV shows, and streams photos and music from computers to the TV and sound system.
Streaming iTunes content through a PC, and on to the living room television is still a complicated process for the casual Apple customer however, and “most consumers aren’t ready to cut the cord on their cable company, or put up with the tech-nastics required,” Burrows wrote.
“Instead, the focus will be that users can watch their favorite TV shows and movies on an iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The new Apple TV, the report said, will be the ‘tail end’ of Apple’s video strategy.” [via PC World, Techno Blog and Information Week ]