Apple makes September 9 event official, hints at more than iPhone 6
- 29 August, 2014 06:00
Apple has announced it will host an event on September 9 in Cupertino, California, to unveil its newest iPhone.
Invitations to the media and analysts went out last Wednesday for the long-expected event. Apple was even coyer than usual, declining to provide any hints, as it often does, of the event's purpose.
"Wish we could say more," the invitation simply read.
Analysts expect that it will be used to unveil new iPhones, as the same-timed presentations did in 2013 and 2012.
The date, as Computerworld pointed out a month ago, synchronizes with Apple's iPhone 5S and 5C unveiling of last year. Then, Apple touted the new smartphones on Tuesday, September 10. The year before, Apple used September12, a Wednesday -- the usual day of the week, Tuesday, had been an anniversary of the terrorist attacks against New York City and Washington, DC. -- for its iPhone 5 debut.
The event will take place at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, which is on the campus of De Anza College in Cupertino. The Flint Center seats ,400, significantly more than either the theater on Apple's campus which was used last year for the iPhone 5S and 5C or the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where Apple hosted its 2012 iPhone 5 presentation.
Co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the original Mac on January 24, 1984, at the Flint Center. (Jobs' portion of the shareholders' meeting where he introduced the Mac begins at the 40:56 mark in this YouTube video.)
The choice of the venue, its size and even the impenetrable tagline made one analyst wonder what Apple has up its sleeves other than the anticipated iPhone 6.
"[The tagline] hints at something unexpected," said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research. "We know there will be an iPhone in two [screen] sizes, we think we know there will be an 'iWatch,' or whatever Apple calls its wearable. But there have been a lot of leaks of a larger-sized tablet. I betcha that's the unexpected."
Gottheil was referring to a recent upswing in speculation that Apple is working on a larger-screen iPad, perhaps with a display in the 13-in. range.
"Apple can fill as large a hall as they want," said Gottheil about the larger space for the Sept. 9 event. "I think the gist is that they want a broader audience, and may be making one big major announcement this year rather than separate events for the iPhone and iPad."
Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Technologies, agreed that the location had meaning. "Apple event at Flint Center suggests this is a big one," Bajarin tweeted today, then quickly followed with, "Apple launched the original Mac at the Flint Center. This time around, the parallel is that the iPhone is the Mac for the masses."
Tim Bajarin, also of Creative Strategies and an analyst who has tracked Apple for decades, echoed Ben. "Same place they launched the original Mac ... sounds like this could be a historic event," Bajarin tweeted today.
Unusual, too, was the timing of the invitation: In the past two years, Apple has sent its invite on the day after the U.S. Labor Day holiday, which is Sept. 1 this year. The additional days of warning this year may be due to the larger-than-usual number of people invited to the event.
According to reports, the Flint Center venue may not be large enough for Apple. Today, MacRumors showed a photograph of a mysterious white structure being built on the grounds of the Flint Center, and attributed it to Apple.
Ironically, in 1984, after the shareholders meeting where Jobs pulled the original 128K Mac out of a bag, then-CEO John Scully apologized for the Flint Center being too small, saying he was sorry "to those shareholders who weren't able to attend because the facility wasn't large enough."
Apple is also expected to demonstrate, perhaps introduce, a wearable of some kind. Although some wags have dubbed that the "iWatch," others are just as certain that it will be nothing of the kind, but more a fashion accessory for the iPhone that offers health and fitness information, notifications and a control point for Apple's HomeKit home automation project.
"It seems to be the time for that," said Gottheil of an Apple entry, pointing to the logic behind showing off both new iPhones and devices that rely on them. "I'm sure Apple will do a fine job of it, and that it will be more useful and interesting than what we've seen from others. But still, I don't see that being a killer product for everybody."
Meanwhile, a larger iPad, one tricked out with an Apple-designed keyboard, has been on Gottheil's wish list for years. "Maybe what we'll see is a keyboard for the iPad," Gottheil said, still promoting the idea as a possibility in two weeks as part of what he believed will be a more-expansive-more-inclusive-than-usual event.
Apple will kick off the September 9 event at 10am. PT (1pm. ET). Apple's history of live webcasting events is spotty: It always broadcasts the keynotes of its Worldwide Developers Conferences (WWDC), and for the last two years also publicly webcast its annual iPad events. But it has not broadcast iPhone introductions.