Today is a first: Apple's first major launch event in the post-Jobs era. Scheduled for 10 a.m. PST, Apple is hosting what has become an annual event; the ushering in of this year's latest iPhone.
This year, Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 5 or at at least the iOS 5.
Just as football fans tailgate before the big event, geeks spread rumors and speculate.
Here are six things to watch for:
1. Yes, yes, it goes without saying that we all want to know about the latest, greatest iPhone. With baited breath, can we expect the faster A5 processor, an 8-megapixel camera and a GSM/CDMA baseband good for any major carrier? Just how light and skinny will the iPhone 5 be? Will the screen be a full four inches? Is Apple actually launching the iPhone 5 anytime soon or just an iPhone 4S running iOS5? So many geeky questions, so little time.
2. Apple TV. It may finally be primetime for this pet division of Apple. There's been a lot of chatter about Apple's "three screen strategy." Today may be the day we hear something that gives this legs. Apple has built a 500,000-square-foot data center optimized just for storing video in the cloud. I'm just sayin'.
3. Special guests: Don't be shocked if Netflix CEO Reed Hastings shows up (see #2 above). Also, don't be surprised if someone from Facebook shows up. Mark Zuckerberg will likely at least be there in spirit. Apparantly, the partnership and integration between iOS and Facebook is expected to go to a whole new level.
4. Sprint gets skin in the game. This shouldn't come as a surprise that Sprint is finally going to carry the iPhone. However, the eleventh-hour rumors are that it's hocked its socks to do so. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint has agreed to pay Apple $20 billion over the next four years in an exclusive deal to carry the iPhone 5 (leaving everyone else with the iPhone 4S). This would translate to Sprint buying 30 million iPhones and even under the best of circumstances sales-wise, it still wouldn't break even until 2014.
5. Steve Jobs. We all know this will be Tim Cook's baby. Cook took over as the permanent CEO of Apple earlier this year. Jobs has retired for reasons everyone assumes are health-related. In recent years, he has battled and beat back pancreatic cancer and survived a liver transplant. However over the past year, Jobs's public appearances had become spottier, and have shown him looking increasingly gaunt and frail. There is an outside chance that Jobs may show up for a walk-on assist at today's launch or perhaps a pre-taped hello. Whether we see Jobs or not, his presence will definitely be felt.
6. What about the iPod? Write it down, October 4, 2011. This may be the day Apple's famous "click wheel" goes into mothballs. There is a strong chance that we'll get a new and improved line-up of iPods just in time for the holiday season.
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