I have been wondering about what the contents of Apple's announcement next week might be.
If the announcement has something to do with video then something substantial has changed. Steve Jobs has always maintained that a Video iPod did not make sense because "no one walks around watching video". So something much larger must be the "....and one more thing." What if it is right under our noses? Some interesting tidbits:
Great client with great digital content. The client runs on Macintosh, Windows, and now a mobile phones. iTunes now has stores in all the key markets. It supports high definition H.264 video in addition to MPEG4. It has a great world-wide content caching and delivery infrastructure via Akamai.
2. Mac Mini
The Mini has a great form factor - you can move it anywhere - even in the living room next to you new flat-panel TV. The mini has built-in Bluetooth and WiFi. It plays DVDs and has DVI output.
3. The Movie Studios
Ticket sales slowing. Movie distribution is costly. No one has cracked the "on-demand" movie distribution problem. I recently read an interview with a movie studio head who was saying that they would have on-line digital distribution ready by the end of this year.
What if the announcement is that Apple has reached an agreement with several movie studios to distribute movies through iTunes so that you can now attach your Mac Mini to your LCD or Plasma TV, download Hi-Def movies from iTunes and then play them "on-demand" through your home entertainment system. In addition, you could copy the content to some sort of Video iPod so that you can continue to watch your movie on the plane or train later.
The big deal is the distribution of digital content through iTunes and using the Mac Mini as some sort of "set-top box" or "Media Center". That brings together the digital content creation family (iMovie, iPhoto, Garageband, iDVD, and the Pro Tools), the digital content distribution (iTunes), and digital content consumption (Mac Mini - Media Center, iPod, Video iPod, etc).
Apple has the technology to do this. All that is left is getting the lawyers to agree.
Update: So the Mac Mini with Remote did not happen this time. FrontRow is very interesting technology and makes the Mini next to a flat screen idea even more viable. Perhaps Apple is waiting for the cheaper Intel-based Minis to ship this Media Center thing?