Apple At it Again - 6 Weeks Comes to An End?

First there was the iPod Nano. On Sept 7th Apple released the pencil thin and incredibly stylish iPod Nano that clocked in with both 2 gig and a 4 gig models. On the 11th of October over 1 million had been sold (that's 5882 units a day). They weren't without issues, but for the most part everyone was just stunned, bemused and amazed. So small. So Tiny. So MUCH. Oh, and Apple axed their most popular iPod ever in the process, the iPod Mini. Of course many had thought it was going to be a video iPod or (vPod) as it was being called, but alas on the 7th it was not to be a reality. We did however get iTunes 5. Nothing really amazing about that release though, it just felt like another release supporting a new iPod, nothing much. Had iTunes 4.9 not be out, it would have been iTunes 4.9.

Then October 11th comes around and Apple shows, in their 4th Quarter analysis, that they are kicking butt and taking names. 80% of the on-line music store business, 6.4 million iPods sold, 1.2 million Macs sold and $3.68 billion in profits, all in just the 4th quarter. What did that mean... well, 48% increase in Mac sells and 220% in iPod sales over the same quarter in 2004. I wish the company I worked for had seen those kinds of increases.

The very next day, October 12th, Steve Jobs takes another bite out of the news.... He releases a video iPod and calls it "iPod." Yep, while it came with a lot of fanfare it didn't get a new name. This may have been expected, but it still stunned a lot of people. This new iPod is designed to play music, better than anyone else's player and oh yes, it plays video too. You get that feature for free! He has a point, because the only iPod on the market (full size that is) plays music and video and they didn't raise the price for the two models they had one penny. During the presentation he also released a new version of the iMac and a little software ditty called FrontRow which may be a major player in future announcements, possibly Apple trying to really move into the living room. However, none of these were the really big announcement that Steve Jobs was working up to and always loves to do. He always has one more thing to say.

This "one more thing..." was Steve Jobs' real draw dropper and would take the entertainm ent industry and the tech industry by storm and guarantee free advertising for weeks. In an unprecedented deal with Disney's ABC, he announced that their two most popular shows and the two most popular shows on American TV would be available on iTunes 6.0 along with 2000 videos some Pixar shorts and three other TV shows. All for the price of $1.99 each.

This just stunned the industry and really urked the Screen Actors Guild which has already petitioned Disney to make sure their membership gets a cut, must be taking hints from the RIAA. After what iTunes did for music, no one is taking their video plans lightly.

Okay, so that leads us to today.... What will be released? What is Steve Jobs up to now? Well, Interestingly enough this may all play together... On September 7th, Act 1, he releases the Nano. On October 12th, Act 2, he releases an iPod that plays video and a "small" side deal with Disney for content. Now, today on November 19th, he has another set of announcements and possibly Act 3. He said how much he likes drama and even used the three act play to make his three big announcements on the 12th of October. So, could we be seeing the really big announcement for Apple today? Not Sure.

The announcement is being made at a huge Photo convention in New York City called Photo Plus Expo. Everyone who is everyone in the digital photo industry will be in attendance. Today at 12 Noon EDT Apple will make their announcements to a host of media (and media only) they sent special invites to last week.

At this point it doesn't look like it will be a climatic announcement, but neither did October 12th. The rumor mill says a Pro level photo editor, along with the possibility of a refresh of the Powerbook with a camera built into the bezel as with the new iMac. The photo software though, that may just be one of their biggest announcements so far. iMacs, PowerBooks, iPods, iTunes in all their flavors are businesses that Apple is doing very well with so far and all we have heard are upgrades and changes. While amazing the deal for TV content was, it is in the end a wait-and-see concept. If Apple really is releasing a photo editor aimed at either PhotoShop or its little brother PhotoShop Elements, then Apple on November 19th is firing a real shot across the bow of Adobe and in the end at Microsoft itself.

It is a direct attack on Adobe and one more battle in the war to win the hearts and minds of the digitally minded artists, workers and hobbyists. What had been and has become again the growing soul of Apple Computer. They have been playing with consumers, maybe they are ready to go back after the professionals they have lost over the years since Steve originally left Apple. If this truly is the case, then it means Apple is aiming once again at corporate America. Apple learned long ago that you have to get people young or in their homes and schools. They played that game well for years. Today though, they don't have the K-12 market anymore. They don't have the college market anymore. They are taking one hell of a bite out of the home market, proving they can design and innovate. Maybe, just maybe, all of this is part of a grand plan to move back to where they hail from... Professional digital. The market they not only helped create and foster but make thrive. If that is the case, then it may mean a real move back into software. There are rumors of more office type programs in the works and their relationship with Microsoft has always been tenuous. If they lose them, then they lose Office and that would not be good for Apple. If I were them, I would have something in the wings. Something very Mac in nature, something that could entice the graphic artist that he can stay with Apple even without Microsoft's Office applications.

I'm just thinking out loud here. I don't know anything. I haven't read all the reports and I haven't even owned a Mac since the late mid-90's. I'm not saying they won't announce refreshes of the PowerBook, that seems a given and that refresh may tie in some way to their really big announcement of this new software (if it is real). Of course, this may all be a ploy like in October to lead us down one path.. make the announcement in a matter-of-fact way and then release the real jaw dropper and complete this three act play in grand style going into the holiday season. Which after all is what all of this has most assuredly the short term effects of these 6 weeks worth of announcements is aimed at... Christmas 2005.