Apple's Sept. 9 Event Has iPod Focus, Social Network, Too?

New iPods with built-in cameras are expected to take center stage at Apple's Sept. 9 product announcement. Also possible is a major update to iTunes, perhaps to add social networking, though it is less likely.

The expected tablet introduction is apparently off the table, perhaps until next year.

Here's my reading of the marketplace, user expectation/demand, and the rumors we've all heard:

It seems clear that iPods are going to get cameras in this year's refresh. Photography features are the only thing the current models lack that large numbers of people provably want and will use.

Besides photography--both stills and movies, depending on the model--we might see smaller and better, but I would be surprised if we see cheaper. Except at the high-end where iPods are still pricey, especially in this economy.

I think if Apple was going to add a social networking feature we'd have heard rumors of it, but it is a valid direction for iTunes to head. I am 50/50 on whether it happens with this release.

Apple could decide to add music social networking with a partner, but that would surprise me. Music Store deserves its own social networking and, because it could be tightly coupled to music purchasing, I expect Apple to go on its own.

Social networking for iPods will happen, but it may not be happening quite yet.

"It's only rock and roll, but we like it" is Apple's hint for this event, which is seen as evidence that it is just an iPod/iTunes event and no tablet will be introduced.

Most iPod customers were not alive when Mick Jagger first uttered the phrase, which says more about Apple's aging PR and marketing staff than it does anything else. It does, however, lower expectations for the event.

It is not impossible, however, that a member of the Rolling Stones or their content might be somehow involved in the announcement.

It would be good for Apple to do something to update Apple TV, but I am not expecting it at this time.

My guess is we will hear something about Music Store content, perhaps a major addition or something, but I have no feel for that at all.

Overall, this should be an evolutionary hardware announcement--new shiny toys in time for Christmas--not anything too incredible. Though with Apple you never call tell and I'll hope to be surprised.

David Coursey has been following Apple for more than 20 years. He tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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