Is it just me or is the hype surrounding Wednesday's Apple event more subdued than usual? At first glance, it's not hard to see why Apple watchers and fans are more complacent than ever about this supposedly iPod-only event. Speculation for tomorrow's highlights include iPods with cameras (that may not be ready for widespread distribution yet); the end of the iPod classic; iTunes 9 with social networking integration and/or the Cocktail platform; an appearance by Steve Jobs; a TV subscription service on iTunes; and the now-perennial rumor that the Beatles catalog is coming to the iTunes Store.
But if the past is any guide, most of this speculation will end up being wildly inaccurate. Yes, the Fab Four are now on Rock Band, but I'm betting the Beatles catalog is unlikely to show up tomorrow. In fact, I'm not sure why the Beatles rumor is even coming up again, since the tagline for Wednesday's event -- "It's Only Rock and Roll, But We Like It" -- plays off the title of a Rolling Stones song.
The Beatles on iTunes would be news, but the truth is Apple hasn't had a big, noisemaking event since the company introduced the iPhone 3G at its Worldwide Developer's Conference in 2008. Since then it's been a roller coaster of heightened expectations followed by anticlimactic reality. Don't believe me? Let's look at the highlights:
"Let's Rock" Event September 2008
The Reality: taller and narrower iPod Nano; iPod Classic reduced to one model (120 GB); iTunes 8; and minor iPod Touch facelift.
The rumors for this event were actually pretty accurate, but nothing too exciting. This event marked the beginning of the current MacBook Touch/iPad/iTablet rumors.
MacWorld Expo 2009
The R eality: New iLife and iWork software; new MacBook Pro; DRM-free music on iTunes.
This year's MacWorld was the biggest let down for Apple watchers in a long time. Of course it was hard to compete with the two previous MacWorld Expos, which introduced the original iPhone and the MacBook Air. Updated software and music without copy protection just can't compete against a history like that.
The Reality: faster iPhone with video capability; MacBook Pro line with sealed battery; Snow Leopard with no new user interface--except for QuickTime and other minor tweaks; iPhone OS 3.0.
If you thought MacWorld was a snoozer, this year's Worldwide Developer's Conference was even worse. To be fair, this event was supposed to be about software development and not product launches, but then again, MacWorld is where Apple launched the iPhone 3G the year prior, so expectations were higher than normal.
"It's Only Rock and Roll, But We Like It" Event September 2009
And so we come to Wednesday's event, where expectations about Apple's plans are tempered by previous disappointments. That may be because the most highly-anticipated Apple product, a Web tablet, is not likely to make an appearance. But did you notice how long the tablet rumor has been kicking around, and yet there's still little evidence to suggest the product even exists?
If recent history is any guide, tomorrow's event should be a snoozer. Some minor upgrades to the iPod line and the possible discontinuation of the iPod Classic is hardly exciting stuff. The Cocktail concept, which is supposed to be some sort of multimedia album format, sounds interesting, but hardly groundbreaking. I don't know about you, but I'm preparing myself for another unexciting event from Apple. But don't despair; I've heard a hot rumor that Apple has something huge planned for another event early next year.
This story, "Apple’s iPod Event: Just Another Snoozer" was originally published by PCWorld.