Apple plans to disrupt media … again! This time it should be social

3 Jan 2012

The iPad 2

The tech world is buzzing with speculation about what Apple is planning to announce at a special media event in New York later this month. One thing everyone agrees on, it does not relate to a forthcoming television or iPad 3.

Kara Swisher of All Things Digital refers to several sources who are certain that the upcoming announcement will be a more modest affair that relates to more media-related offerings from the Apple stable.

She reasons that if it was a TV development it would be announced in the heart of Silicon Valley or in Hollywood.

New York itself is a big hint in that it is pretty much the media capital of America.

Another big hint could be that the announcement is being co-ordinated by Eddy Cue, Apple’s chief of internet software and services, and could relate to online advertising or social media.

Apple has already revealed its hand in terms of publishing (Newstand), mobile advertising (iAd Network) and digital entertainment via iTunes and its various app stores for the Mac and iOS devices.

And lets not forget cloud (iCloud).

So what is Apple planning?

The next big thing from Apple could be an amalgamation of all of these things, perhaps a clearer strategy or more defined product set.

But I’m happy to walk away from the crowd and venture that the obvious gaping hole in Apple’s armoury is social.

Ping has not been a true success and its potential is being eclipsed by offerings like Spotify and Deezer on Facebook, for example, and for a tech giant of Apple’s stature it needs social if its investment in mobile and in-device advertising is going to truly work.

Suggesting Apple may launch its own social network might be a bridge too far, but a similar assertion about Google a year ago before Google+ came along might have met with ridicule.

Through devices like the iPod, the iPhone and iPad, Apple has quintessentially offered the traditional media world – from publishers to studios – a window to the future.

If a vital pane on that window is social, then it makes sense for Apple to finally do something more definitive with social. Heck, did it not already take a stab at BBM and SMS with iMessage? Apple has always been good at joining the dots.

As ever, this is just speculation on my part, and only Apple truly knows what the big reveal will be.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years