Apple might offer a `Cocktail’ of new iPods and music
Apple is holding a music-themed press event tomorrow, where it is expected to unveil a package of goodies that will start being attached to sales of full digital albums.
The product, code-named Cocktail by the record labels, will include interactive lyric sheets, photos and other virtual extras aimed at replicating and improving on the old experience of opening a vinyl record sleeve or CD boxed set filled with trinkets.
The San Francisco event will come the same day as the release of the remastered Beatles catalog, although that material itself won’t be available via Apple’s online store iTunes.
“Conversations between Apple and EMI are ongoing and we look forward to the day when we can make the music available digitally. But it’s not tomorrow,” Ernesto Schmitt, EMI’s global catalog president, told the FT’s Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson.
The holdup is EMI’s conern about the prospects for piracy, Paul McCartney told The Observer.
The ex-Beatle said he, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison wanted to release the music on iTunes, but EMI, which owns the master recordings, objected.
“If one [EMI] employee decides to take it home and wap it on to the internet, we would have the right to say, ‘Now you recompense us for that.’ And they’re scared of that,” Mr McCartney said.
The Cocktail project has been a top priority for the record industry as it tries to revive flagging sales of 10 or so tracks at a time. While iTunes and Apple’s iPod and iPhone mobile players have juiced legal downloads of singles, they haven’t done much for larger bundles.
Because the iPod generates less interest than the iPhone, and Apple’s tablet computer isn’t expected to debut for some months, one or more content deals would help the company manufacture more excitement.
Apple is also expected to roll out a revamped line of iPods, possibly with still or video cameras installed. And it is likely to announce its first pre-set ringtones for the iPhone, as opposed to those that consumers edit from songs themselves.
ITunes will also get some changes, possibly including new features for sharing listening habits among friends with social-networking features.
This being Apple, there has been the usual flurry of rumour and speculation about other moves the company might make Wednesday. But there has been as much focus on the presenter as what might be presented.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been back at the company from his medical leave for more than a month, and he gave the main speech at last year’s September music event.
But most analysts aren’t expecting him this time around, in part because he is still recovering from a liver transplant that followed his bout with pancreatic cancer and in part because they don’t think Apple has anything truly tremendous to roll out.