September 9th Apple Event preview

From extensive reports by reliable sources, we are very confident about the broad strokes of the following anticipated announcements at tomorrow’s Apple Event in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (just down the street from Moscone, home to Macworld and WWDC):

*iTunes 9.0 with social networking features, improved App Store and numerous other small enhancements — notably the “Cocktail” feature, which bundles in extra bonus content with full-album music purchases.
*Corresponding upgrades to App Store.ipa and iTunes.ipa on iDevices, separate from the iPhone OS 3.1 upgrade which looks like it will most likely wait until near the end of the month (circa the 25th, in parallel with AT&T’s MMS rollout)
*iPod Touch “GS” with GPS and Camera
*iPod Nano with enhanced screen, major on-board software upgrades, and built-in camera
*”Death” of the HDD-based iPod Classic, though this may not be explicitly announced at the Event itself but rather allowed to happen quietly
*New content-purchase options for iTunes and iDevice users, including video rentals for iDevices and streaming of certain types of content rather than users needing to download all content to their Mac or device in order to access it. This will likely be part of the push away from large HDD-based devices such as the iPod Classic, allowing consumers more free space for pictures and video recordings et cetera on Flash storage based iDevices.

Though it has long been speculated that Steve Jobs would take the stage on Wednesday, Apple has left that a mystery for several reasons — not the least of which being that someone in his condition could experience unexpected symptoms or complications at any moment, and for the past decade or so Apple has particularly loathed to announce anything it isn’t 110% certain it can deliver on. That said, we do expect to see Jobs make tomorrow’s announcements with only limited help from other presenters.

The other big question is, will we see a Tablet unveiled — regardless of whether it’s a Mac or an iDevice (we’ve strongly leaned toward the former for some time now, based on numerous source reports and sneak peeks at prototypes of both Intel Atom/nVIDIA ION based Mac and ~1GHz ARM based iPhone OS designs), and clear signs that such a revolutionary computer won’t ship until at least the Holidays…more likely early 2010?

According to some of our oldest and most reliable sources, the hardware designs (software for a Macbook Touch is already complete, most of it hiding inside of Snow Leopard) and component supplies are firmly in place for such an announcement — if it weren’t for the many complicating “outside” factors such as FCC approval for the 3G related elements of the machine’s design, sources are very confident that Apple could actually begin shipping the Macbook Touch within weeks or even days.

As a result of the conflicting reports of where things stand on these “outside factors,” as well as how the Tablet fits into the marketing/logistical elements of Apple’s Product Roadmap for the next 3-6 months, Rumors is deadlocked at a roughly 50/50 split on whether we’ll see the Macbook Touch unveiled tomorrow. It’s certainly possible, but several sources of varying background have said that the relevant preparations for such an announcement don’t appear to have been made.

That said, we do anticipate an announcement of this huge step forward for Apple’s product line well in advance of an actual release; given that a shipping Macbook Touch is only 3-4 months away, we believe such an announcement is no more than 6-8 weeks away and would be very surprised if it was pushed back past Thanksgiving. After all, if Apple were to wait much longer than that, information which is likely to be published in various public venues (notably the FCC, which “leaked” details of the iPhone well in advance of its release) would beat it to the punch.

Stay tuned for more updates on anticipated details of tomorrow’s announcements and the Macbook Touch; don’t forget to Follow Us on Twitter (more socialnet presences forthcoming) for the latest micro-tidbits, and join us tomorrow September 9th at 10AM PT/1PM ET for our Live Coverage of this exciting Apple Event!

Live Coverage will be available via our Web site, and a stripped-down version will be posted to Twitter in case our improved server setup is swamped by traffic. Other venues will be added if time and resources permit, including major social networks.

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