3 Big Ideas for Apple's Big Event

Mark your calendars. Next Tuesday, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) will host a press event in San Francisco. "Let's Rock," the invite reads.

What's it mean? The Wall Street Journal refers to lagging growth in the iPod business. "Let's Rock," writes reporter Nick Wingfield, could refer to new music products for Mr. Mac. I think he's right.

Then again, if we know anything about Apple events, it's that we're almost always surprised by what CEO Steve Jobs has to say. After Macworld in January, for example, investors fled when Apple failed to introduce a 3G iPhone at the event. (They'd have to wait till June for that.) A new Apple TV got top billing instead.

And yet ...
So we can't really know what Jobs will say on stage next week. But isn't guessing part of the fun with Apple? Of course it is. Here are my top three predictions:

Prediction # 1: Steve Jobs will be in excellent spirits and good health. Persistent rumors of Jobs's poor health, and even death, have kept Apple's shares low. That has to be tough to swallow -- these are just rumors, after all. And yet there is logic in reporting on Job's health; neither Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) , Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , nor Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) have as much invested in their leaders.

So far, Apple and Jobs aren't talking. I take that as a sign there's nothing wrong. Mr. Mac's lawyers aren't dumb; they know that concealing their CEOs health issues would invite hundreds of millions in legal claims.

Prediction # 2: Lower prices for the iPod Touch and a refreshed iPod product line. The no-brainer. Ever since Apple convinced AT&T (NYSE: T  ) to subsidize a portion of the 3G iPhone, lowering its price to $199, we've been waiting for the iEmpire to cut prices on the iPod Touch. At $299 on the low end, the Touch is almost priced for irrelevance.

What saves it? Ma Bell, ironically. There's a subset of iGeeks who love the handset but don't love AT&T, creating a picture-perfect market for the Touch. But that may not last. Apple has released a software update for the 3G iPhone that is addressing most connectivity issues, and Ma Bell is too big, and too invested, to not do what it must to keep profitable iPhone customers happy.

Which brings us back to the Touch. There's no market for an antenna-less iPhone that costs more. Apple needs to either (a) reinvent the iPod to create space between it and the iPhone or (b) lower prices. I'm expecting both.

Prediction # 3: Sirius content. The simplest way to boost the iPod's relevance is to add content. The App Store serves that purpose to a degree but Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android Market looks impressive; it could blunt the advantage that the App Store was supposed to create.

Apple therefore has to -- in its own parlance -- think differently. It needs to dream bigger. It needs to tune in Sirius XM (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) . Foolish colleague Rick Munarriz and I have both written about this in the past. The thinking: If the iPod is a disruptor for satellite radio, why not join forces and end the war?

A partnership would be particularly meaningful if the Touch were the platform. It already has a Wi-Fi antenna; would adding a satellite tuner be too much of a burden? I don't think so. (Remember XM2Go?) And even if it were, Apple could create Sirius and XM channels in the style of the YouTube channel the Touch already has. Get your radio feed anytime you're connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Tell me I'm wrong
But those are just three ideas. And, again, Apple has a history of surprising us iGawkers. Think I'm wrong? Have a different take? Share your insights in the comments box below.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers had positions in Google's shares and 2010 LEAPs at the time of publication. He also hunts for the best of tech as a contributor to Motley Fool Rule Breakers, which counts Google among its holdings. Here's how to try this market-beating service free for 30 days. Get access to all of Tim's Foolish writings here.

Apple is a Stock Advisor selection. Dell and Microsoft are Inside Value picks. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is waiting till Thursday's big finale to tune into the Republican National Convention.


Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 03, 2008, at 2:50 PM, creativeazguy wrote:

    Take the iPod Touch, add a decent camera and some iPhone speakers, and then make iChat standard on the iPod Touch. Even if you could only do video conferencing via WiFi, this would be huge.

  • Report this Comment On September 03, 2008, at 7:45 PM, jmstamis wrote:

    More of a question, or something to consider.

    Sirius XM has been unable to provide XM radio stations on Sirius, and visa versa, so how useful would a Sirius XM app be on the iPhone/iPod Touch?

    Or, if this app would be the first to provide both Sirius and XM stations, that would be pivotal, that would be news.

    Apple would have the first and only dual compatible receiver!!!

    But seeing that the Sirius XM merger was just complete, I do not think we are going to see any news on this realm just yet.

  • Report this Comment On September 03, 2008, at 11:36 PM, Babble100 wrote:

    An option related to the Sirius idea but cheaper, would be to team up with Pandora or Last.fm or both... both already have apps for iPhone. These customize music selections according to each listener's tastes. And, they are free and addictive. They stimulate song sales (click on a song you like to buy it thru iTunes). True, you can only access it in WiFi range, but still an improvement over the current buy-songs-if-ya-wanna-hear'em model. Perhaps a way to cache an hour or so's worth of songs (tank up for the road) could be engineered.

  • Report this Comment On September 04, 2008, at 6:35 PM, anmar23 wrote:

    XM Sirius at $13 a month should sit nicely on the iPhone 3G next to the already available unlimited supply of iTunes content and FREE internet radio. If I was XM Sirius that's exactly were I would want to showcase my product. Brilliant.

  • Report this Comment On September 03, 2009, at 2:03 PM, mikebz5 wrote:

    You may be unaware of this but SiriusXM unveiled the SkyDock accessory for the iPhone/iTouch last week!

    http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19512_7-10318728-233.html

  • Report this Comment On September 03, 2009, at 3:12 PM, JWILLI44 wrote:

    i think the best thing that apple can do is to reduce the cost of the Ipod touch. The device is really nice, but it prices people out. I know a lot of people that wanted it but settled for ipod classic due to price and higher storage capacity. A new more affordable device with wi-fi capabilities would be great...How about an ipod classic with wi-fi? Ipod classic with ability to have applications? Apple made a great turn around during the "boom" in the economy by having great products at premium prices. The ipod, ipod touch, Macs, all were commanding premium prices and people were buying them. Now, times are different. They need to have more affordable price points to stay relevant. Their "cool" factor will wear off and people will stop paying "premium " prices. As far as SIRIUS XM capabilities built in...I don't see that...Wi-fi and maybe an antenna headphone and home dock would be more than enough. Having a satelite antenna built in when at best 5% would ever get satelite would be a waste. However, if they can build a dock, i don't see why a antenna headphone to receive satelite wouldn't be possible. Also an apple "netbook" could be announced. A small apple notebook from apple should be coming soon...SIRIUS XM WOULD work on those too...

    Free internet radio is not a comparison to SIRIUS XM, unless you think that radio is only streaming music..there is no free radio of any kind that can match SIRIUS XM variety...

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