Flash And The Land Of Oz (10/20/04)

So what's in the cards for this "special music event" that Apple's throwing next week? Guesses are running wild, ranging from 60 GB video-enabled iPods to a surprise settlement with the Beatles to Steve Jobs being named the fourth vocalist for the new all-barbershop incarnation of Van Halen. But only two major predictions seem likely enough to attract bets from the smart money: the launch of the pan-European iTunes Music Store (which Apple just last week said was "on track" for a late October debut) and a special edition U2 iPod, probably with an iTMS gift certificate to allow the free download of U2's new album. (In hindsight, the previously-cited Forbes article claiming that the music would be preloaded on the iPod itself was sort of silly; several faithful viewers have pointed out that if the music were preloaded, the average user would never be able to get the U2 music off the iPod and into iTunes. As happy iPodRip users, we'd completely forgotten that, in normal circumstances, the iPod is a one-way device when it comes to music transfer.)

But wait, there's plenty more where that came from! If the Euro iTMS indeed gets intro'd, it may have a bit of company when it hops up on stage next Tuesday; faithful viewer David Triska forwarded us an AppleInsider article about how the Australian Financial Review "confidently claims" that "Apple will launch its long-awaited iTunes Music Store in Australia in the next few weeks." Reportedly licensing negotiations with the Aussie record labels are just about complete, and Apple is considering selling songs for $.99 Australian, which is about 27 percent cheaper than in the U.S. (and, incidentally, roughly 32 percent below Apple's alleged break-even price). So if Apple's so close to getting things off the ground down under, an Aussie iTMS launch next week alongside the expanded European coverage makes perfectly good sense-- especially in light of other companies trying to beat Apple to market in as-yet-unclaimed territories. Those competitors are crafty little scrappers, boy howdy; faithful viewer wolfie notes that Asahi Shimbun is reporting that MSN Music just launched over there in Japan, with a mere 50,000 songs in its catalog, but a solid head start over Apple in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Meanwhile, whispers of imminent iTMS expansionism into far-flung lands aren't the only rumors to be gaining traction as Tuesday draws nearer. Remember that analyst who recently insisted that, because of info from his sources in Asia, he was dead certain that Apple would ship a low-end, driveless iPod in time for the holidays? Well, he's still at it; The Mac Observer reports that Jason Pflaum of Thomas Weisel has once again assured his clients of his "confidence" that Apple has signed up chipmaker SigmaTel to provide a whole mess o' controller chips for Apple's "new flash-based player" that "will come out by the end of the year." And since the end of the year is only ten weeks away, and (according to the decorations at the mall, anyway) we're already firmly ensconced in the holiday shopping season, next week's music event is probably the latest the company could introduce this alleged flash-based 'Pod and still make a decent-sized splash with them before Santa goes back into hibernation for another year. Assuming Apple would ever ship a low-capacity 'Pod in the first place, of course.

So there you have it: two more music-related rumors to consider as Apple's Super U2sday fast approaches. Personally, we're still holding out hope that we'll get to hear some nice a cappella four-part vocal harmonies on "Jump" between Uncle Steve, brothers Eddie and Alex, and that Mike guy with the bass, but if we get an Aussie iTMS launch and a $99 iPod micro instead, we suppose we'll deal with the disappointment somehow.

SceneLink (4990)
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The above scene was taken from the 10/20/04 episode:

October 20, 2004: More rumors swirling around Apple's music event next week include the possible launch of the iTunes Music Store in Australia and the advent of a flash-based iPod-type thingy. Meanwhile, the call goes out for "unique/interesting people" to star in a new iTunes TV commercial, and Japan's NEC steals the supercomputing crown back from IBM-- sort of...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4991: "One Of Us! One Of Us!" (10/20/04)   Calling all freaks! Oh, sorry, that may have been insensitive; the folks looking for the freaks went a slightly more euphemistic route by asking for "unique/interesting people." So if you're unique and/or interesting (or heck, even downright freakish-- we're all family, here), listen up, because this could be your ticket to stardom, and not just as the top-billed sideshow attraction on the local carny circuit...

  • 4992: SX-8: NEC Strikes Back (10/20/04)   Horror of horrors-- slightly off-topic disaster has struck in Supercomputerland! You know how excited we were to report that NEC's hoity-toity Earth Simulator in Japan will finally be put in its place when the next TOP500 rankings are released in a couple of weeks?...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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