It’s that time of year again. The leaves are turning brown. The sun is setting noticeably earlier. Wasps are in a mean mood. And Apple is holding its annual music-themed product launch.We’re focusing on the latter, blogging from the London simulcast of Apple’s event – the real thing is happening in San Francisco.We’ll keep you posted on the key music announcements tonight, so keep refreshing after 10am PDT / 6pm BST. We’re expecting a new iPod touch and possibly a new iPod nano, some changes to iTunes – although possibly not the long-rumoured cloud locker version – a refresh for the Apple TV set-top box that may include iOS apps, and stats on all things iPhone and iPad.The liveblog starts at this point…This’ll be pretty quickfire, so I’ll stick to the key facts and stats as they relate to the music industry, although naturally nowadays that includes iPhone, apps and Apple’s wider content business.CEO Steve Jobs kicks off by talking retail: Apple has 300 stores in 10 countries now, and is attracting more than one million visitors some days, in total.Apple has now shipped 120 million iOS devices – iPhones, iPod touches and iPads. It activates 230,000 new devices every day – that doesn’t include upgrades – and more than 6.5 billion apps have been downloaded from its App Store – 200 every second. There are now 250,000 apps on the store, of which 25,000 are native iPad apps.Apple is introducing the latest version of its iOS software today – version 4.1. No obvious music features, although the software will mark the debut of Apple’s Game Center community – it’s like Xbox Live for iOS users, offering high scores, multiplayer, friend lists and achievements.iOS 4.1 will be available next week for iPhone and iPod touch. Jobs also shows off iOS 4.2 – the next update – which will be available for iPad later this year. One key element for music: something called AirPlay, which is the new name for Apple’s AirTunes technology.AirPlay will let people stream audio, video and photos over Wi-Fi to other devices, from their computer. More on this later – it could be significant.But now iPods. Apple has sold 275 million since the device first launched, and Jobs promises “the biggest change in the iPod lineup ever” with its new models, which are being announced today.There’s a new iPod shuffle, which is smaller, but returns the buttons removed from last year’s third-generation version, while supporting voice control, playlists and Genius mixes. It will sell for $49, and offers 15 hours of playtime on a single charge.Second, there’s a new iPod nano, which dumps the click-wheel in favour of a multi-touch touchscreen interface, and a clip so that it can be worn. It’ll have an FM radio and 24 hours of battery life. Album artwork is shown, too. $149 for an 8GB model and $179 for a 16GB model.Now the iPod touch, which Jobs says has become the most popular iPod AND the world’s most popular portable gaming device in the last year – more than 1.5 billion games and entertainment apps have been downloaded for it.The new model matches the iPhone 4 for specs, with a high-res Retina Display, front and rear cameras (including support for Apple’s FaceTime video calls), a more powerful A4 processor, and a gyroscope inside. It goes on sale next week at $229, $299 and $399 for the 8GB, 32GB and 64GB models respectively – and indeed, the other new iPods will be available next week too.Onto iTunes. Version 10 is launching today – complete with a new logo. “We thought maybe it’s time to ditch the CD in the logo,” says Jobs – it’s been replaced by a musical note. But some stats: 11.7 billion songs have been downloaded from iTunes, along with 450 million TV episodes, 100 million movies, and 35 million e-books. Startlingly, Apple has 160 million registered iTunes accounts – complete with credit cards for simple buying’n’billing.Jobs says Apple is focusing on discovery, to help people discover new music in the 12 million strong music catalogue. And this is big: Ping. “A social network for music – sort of like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes. It’s not Facebook, it’s not Twitter, it’s something else we’ve come up with. It’s a social network for music.”Users can follow friends and artists – Lady Gaga is the example given – and see what they’re buying and recommending. There will also be personalised charts – each user will see a chart based on what the people they follow have been buying. Live gigs are also built in – you can see what concerts your friends are going to.Interesting – another social profile for artists to maintain – it’s separate to Facebook, Twitter and all the rest. Users can adjust the privacy options, so that they can be followed by anyone, or just by people they approve. And it includes status update elements too.Lady Gaga pops up in a demo video, welcoming fans to “my brand new page on iTunes”. Should we be the first to wonder if this kills MySpace stone dead? Just a thought…Jobs moves onto Apple TV at this point. There’s a new model of Apple’s set-top box, which is a quarter the size of the last one. People will be able to stream music from their computers to it, along with films and TV shows, while content will be rented rather than bought – this is movies and TV shows, I should specify.Movies will cost $4.99 to rent via Apple TV, and TV shows will be $0.99. Fox and ABC are on board for launch, while the new device will also support streaming movies service Netflix, and YouTube. Which, for the music industry, may pose the question of whether Apple TV bolsters YouTube as a music consumption site – an alternative to iTunes purchases.One quick note: Apple TV will also be able to access the MobileMe cloud service – I wonder if that also means songs stored there? MP3tunes boss Michael Robertson has written about Apple introducing cloud music lockers by stealth – if so, this device could be the next step.It’s at this point that Jobs comes back to AirPlay though – people will be able to stream content – movies for example – from their iPad to their big TV, via the Apple TV. This also works for photos, TV shows and presumably music (not to mention music videos).Apple TV will cost $99, and will go on sale later this month, pre-orderable today. Initially, rental content will be available in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and Australia, with other countries to follow later this year. It seems Apple TV won’t run apps though, at least not at launch. Media only for now.That’s a wrap. Oh, except for the fact that Chris Martin out of Coldplay closes the event with ‘Yellow’, solo and piano-stylee.

EarPods and phone

Tools: platforms to help you reach new audiences

Tools: Kaiber

In the year or so since its launch, AI startup Kaiber has been making waves,…

Read all Tools >>

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *