The day has finally arrived. At 10AM PST Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) chief Steve Jobs will go on stage in San Francisco to officially introduce us all to the new iPhone 4G / HD. Months of endless speculation, rumors, gadget blog wars, and police raids have led to this moment. While much of what we expect out of Moscone Center today is a known factor, some of it is not. Let’s quickly examine then what are sure things and what are long shots out of the accumulated rumors:
iPhone 4G / HD – If Las Vegas was laying odds on the WWDC announcement (and they probably are somewhere on the Strip), this would be the safest bet in the house. We will see a new iPhone 4G / HD today, it will have a front facing camera, and it will look like the much leaked form factor we’ve seen since April. It would take an epic amount of chutzpah for the outcome to be any different. But then again, if Steve Jobs is known for anything, it’s epic amounts of chutzpah.
Verizon iPhone 4G – This isn’t the biggest long shot of the day but I think it may be a close second. There’s an outside chance Verizon might get an iPad data plan to call their own but the iPhone stays firmly in AT&T’s grasp. For now at least. I think when the day comes for AT&T and Apple to part, Apple will chose the nuclear option and start selling an unlocked iPhone direct to market. Bold words I know but bookmark this article and come back in two years when the exclusivity contract comes up. Apple is in the hardware business, not the carrier business. They signed with AT&T just to get the product in the market. Now that the iPhone is the preeminent smartphone, Apple would like nothing better than to see it proliferate everywhere.
iTunes.com/iTunes in the Cloud – This probably has the best chance of happening today outside of the iPhone announcement. With pressure to innovate from Google and LaLa’s technology in their back pocket, Apple is ready to make the leap to cloud-based content. There are probably a lot of unhappy content companies out there this morning but I think Steve has probably convinced them it’s better to get 10 cents for a thousand plays than a dollar for a hundred. Streaming has a whole other set of issues around piracy and content but it makes the ones the movie and music industry are currently worried about go away. The consumer gets lower prices, the ability to buy a personal copy at a slightly higher price, and Apple and the content companies retain control. If they don’t do it today, it’s coming. Soon.
Steaming Apple TV – Don’t take that bet, it’s a long shot. Apple will want to get the bugs worked out of the streaming service first before they start offering dedicated hardware. Look for this around Christmas or in January when the next iteration of the iPad gets announced. Yes I said that. Apple seems to be slipping into a two announcement per year cycle; new hardware and gadgets in January, iPhones in June. Look for streaming Apple TV and new iPads then, not today.
Upgraded Mac Minis – In case you missed the memo, this WWDC is about mobile. Mac Minis with HDMI ports may be a stealth upgrade between now and Christmas; probably right after I buy mine next month with my luck.
Free MobileMe – This is a small but interesting possibility. I could see Apple offering a new MobileMe in a freemium model as a supporting add-on to the new iPhone. Most iPhone users who aren’t currently using MobileMe are avoiding it based on price. Google offers almost everything MobileMe does for free. I think this is an easy thing for Apple to do to win back some eyes for their platform and convince those who might otherwise not even look at it to pay for full service.
Like all Apple predictions, some of these are bound to fail. I fully expect that. But the great thing about reading the Apple tea leaves is that even when you miss a prediction, you still win when they bring out some other great product instead.
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What’s on your keynote wishlist? Let us know in the comments section.[Image: AppleInsider]