Ah, autumn—when a young tech writer’s thoughts turn to changing leaf colors, baseball playoffs, and
hastily announced Apple events. Ever since Tuesday’s news that Apple would hold an October 12 press gathering—its second such event in as many months—speculation has run rampant on just what the company has up its figurative sleeve this time. And the long-rumored
video iPod has taken on a starring role in this latest round of Product Rumor Theater.
“Apple could launch video iPod before year-end!”
Forbes.com declares in headline form. “I’d be surprised if [the October 12 announcement] is not the video iPod,” Jefferies & Co. analyst Adam Benjamin tells
the San Francisco Chronicle. And if that doesn’t satisfy you, you can go to
Google News, do a search for “video iPod” and find dozens of examples of pundits and sources, both reputable and dis-, talking up the approaching debut of an iPod with video playback capabilities.
Not to spoil the party, but I’m pretty convinced that a video iPod won’t be on the agenda for next week’s Apple event. And I know this because Steve Jobs told me so.
Well, not me exactly. The Apple CEO and I haven’t ever really had much in the way of lengthy, heart-to-heart conversations—not even an “Excuse me, you’re blocking the door” or “That’s funny—you don’t sound like Walt Mossberg.” But Jobs does speak to the rest of the Mac press corps, and
what he told them at last month’s Paris Expo is that Apple doesn’t have a video iPod waiting in the wings.
Jobs took some time to discuss video on personal devices, like the much-rumored Video iPod. While some companies are making moves in the video market, Jobs said that the market isn’t yet right for personal video devices.
“You can already download movies on the iTunes Music Store, and some albums offer video as an incentive to buy the music,” said Jobs. “We also offer video podcasts, but will people buy a video device just to watch this video? So far they haven’t. No one has been successful with that yet.”
This is not some musty old quote dug out from the furtherest reaches of the past (like last fall when
Jobs seemingly dismissed a video-playing iPod out of hand ). Jobs said all this about handheld video players a little more than two weeks ago . I have the fullest faith in the talents and inventiveness of Apple engineers, but I’m guessing convincing Steve Jobs to change his tune about video and iPods in 14 days and change is not among their considerable bag of tricks.
And really, why should Apple roll out a video iPod next week, beyond the dubious distinction of being able to boast that a video-playing device is among its repertoire? There still seems to be very little content out there that would make such an iPod a must-have device. Who knows whether Apple has solved the riddle of making the screen big enough while keeping the device small enough? And rushing yet another iPod to market at this time would seem to steal the thunder from
just-introduced products that
consumers appear to be legitimately excited about.
I will probably be proven wrong next Wednesday—it won’t be the first time, and I think my fragile ego can withstand the shame—but whatever Jobs plans on unveiling, I’m willing to wager it has precious little to do with iPods, video, and the merging of the two. Will Apple eventually release a video iPod? Sure. But “eventually” won’t be Wednesday.
Do you think otherwise? Enlighten me in the forums as to the error of my ways.