What's on tap?
I predict next month's Apple keynote will be all about the iPod, since that's been the company's modus operandi in recent years for September keynotes. Last year Apple introduced a refreshed iPod Nano; the year before that, in September, Apple launched the iPod Touch. In 2006 Cupertino gave us a revamped iPod line and a sneak peek at Apple TV (then known as iTV).
Sure, Apple's latest keynote could include the first public appearance of Steve Jobs since the Apple CEO took time off for health reasons, and I suppose it's possible the rumored Apple tablet could show up. But the pressure will be on Apple to talk about iPod innovations and how it will clobber Zune in the consumer marketplace. Apple needs to give iPod some Apple magic. The iPod, once Apple's golden child, is now growing more irrelevant to its customers and to Apple's bottom line. Check out our story Is Apple's iPod Dying -- And Does Apple Care?
iPod Navel Gazing: Cameras and Price Drop
Two big expectations for the latest iPod refresh include a camera for the iPod Touch, and a new version of iTunes. An iPod Touch rocking a 2 or 3MP camera -- the current specs for cameras on the iPhone 3G and 3GS respectively -- would definitely give the device a leg up over the Zune HD, but Microsoft's cheaper price tag could convince some to forget about the camera in favor of a moderately priced Zune.
Then again, that price advantage might not last long if John Gruber's rumor is correct. Yesterday, the Daring Fireball said Apple would be revamping the iPod Touch by introducing 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB camera-equipped models to replace the current 16GB and 32GB iPod Touch devices now available. Pricing for the new iPod Touches would be $199, $299, and $399 respectively, according to Gruber, versus the Zune HD's 16GB version at $220 and 32GB model at $290. So much for the Zune's price advantage.
Apps on the Zune HD
But the Zune HD won't go down without a fight, and there's another fresh rumor -- courtesy of Gruber once again -- that Microsoft is asking third-party iPhone application developers to bring their software onto the Zune. Gruber says he was contacted by an iPhone developer who said Microsoft offered the independent software maker "a bucket of money" to port his app onto the Zune. For whatever reason the developer turned Microsoft down.
If Gruber's source is correct then apps, at least in some form, could be a part of the Zune HD's future. That's not a surprising move considering the success of the iTunes App Store. Besides, putting apps on the Zune HD would only put Microsoft two steps behind the rumored iPod Touch refresh. To catch up to Apple, all Redmond would have to do then is drop its prices a little bit and slap a camera onto the Zune HD. No problem, right?
This story, "Apple Sept. Keynote to Spark iPod vs Zune Wars " was originally published by PCWorld.