Will music be the message on September 5?

I’m filing this blog post a stone’s throw away from Disneyland—Note: Disney would prefer if you did not throw stones at their theme parks I have sadly discovered—which bills itself as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Steve Jobs hopes that the Moscone West expo hall will give Disneyland a run for its money next Wednesday when Apple holds a press event to reveal a new product. Or, quite possibly, products , since the last time the company did this sort of thing, we got new iMacs, and updates to iWork and iLife out of the deal. (Also, new Mac minis, though Apple kept that update pretty quiet.)

Apple took a lot of the guesswork out of the September 5 press event with its invitation. Featuring a silhouetted figure reminiscent of the company’s iPod and iTunes ads, the invitation also arranges everything in a Cover Flow-like display with the message “The Beat Goes On.” You can’t really be accused of wild speculation if you conclude that new iPods and maybe an iTunes refresh are on the agenda for next Wednesday. And you’d have history on your side—Apple offered the same product announcements last September when it refreshed the iPod line, released iTunes 7 and added movie downloads to the newly rechristened iTunes Store.

So, we’re all agreed we’re getting a new iPod next week, yes? The question remains: What kind of iPod?

I’m not exactly going out on a limb here, but I have a feeling that the sixth-generation iPod will be a widescreen edition that flips its display horizontally or vertically depending on how you orient the device. Alert readers may recognize that this feature already exists in the iPhone, and that’s a pretty good guide for what we can expect next Wednesday. Remember all those second-generation iPhone rumors that breathlessly predicted $249 iPhones in the fall? Well, my guess is that this is that—only it’s an iPhone without the phone and Internet part of the equation. Rather, it’s a music player that takes all the innovations of the iPhone’s multimedia features and puts them in a $249-or-so case.

More speculation: Perhaps Cover Flow finds its way into the nano line as well, though that seems impractical. I feel more confident we’ll see an update to iTunes because, hey, that’s what happens in the fall —the leaves change colors, the baseball pennant races heat up, Apple updates iTunes.

One other bit of wild speculation from me before I turn over the floor to you: I can’t help but look at the September 5 event invitation and think that Apple is trying to send us a coded message. One of the covers on display in the invitation is The Beastie Boys’ The Mix Up album; however, it’s displayed in such a way that only the B-E-A is visible. Another cover to the right of the silhouetted iPod dancer features psychedelic imagery not unlike something from The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine days. And you look at the message on the bottom of the invitation—“The beat goes on”—and you realize that sticking a L-E-S on the end of “beat” gives you the name of a band whose work has yet to arrive on the iTunes Store… well, perhaps that’s another clue right there.

Folks, I think The Beatles are coming to the iTunes Store. Of course, I say that a lot, so why not be wrong in public all over again.

Anyhow, those are my best guesses—some reasonable, some un-. I’d love to hear what you think Apple is planning for us.

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