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iTunes November announcement: The likely and long-shot possibilities

itunes announcement november 16Is it all about iTunes? Big stuff is going down tomorrow, as you know if you've happened upon Apple's front page today. Our TUAW back-channels are all aflutter as we are brainstorming as a group to figure out Apple's big tease. We've been searching the web, scanning HTML source, scanning the iTunes application bundle and more all to try to second-guess what might be happening.

No, we don't have any firm answers, but here are some of the things that we think might be included in tomorrow's developments. We'll run down our thoughts and discoveries to date, which we will be updating and amending as new facts come to light.

So take these thoughts for what they are -- guesses and observations. We're not certain about any of it, and we're happy to be corrected or pointed towards more or better facts. Feel free to jump in in the comments -- we're dying to hear what you think as well.

It's all about iTunes. Apple states that the announcement will be "from iTunes." It's safe to assume that this development is going to center around Apple's iTunes storefront, possibly introducing new commerce models (music rentals?) or social integration. Or, you know, The Beatles.

It's not a media event. It's going to go live at 7AM Pacific, so there's no media event involved. This is likely to involve a content push from Apple to iTunes to reveal the new features. It's happening outside of the context of Apple's normal announcements and media events, so could it be something where Apple couldn't control the timing -- which is why it wasn't mentioned at the Back to the Mac event? Or could it be just a little more prosaic?

It's too early to check the XML. Though it looks like a conventional application, most of iTunes is actually a custom web browser. It runs off XML, a Web specification language that is used to describe iTunes content, and is fed through live feeds from Apple's servers. Updating content on Apple's side automatically updates iTunes.

At this time, there are no changes to either Apple's SecureBag, the public XML file that defines secure customer transactions, or to StoreBag, the XML that defines customer content elements. We're guessing the XML will update tomorrow morning as Apple pushes the new content.

We're not seeing anything special in the iTunes 10.1 application bundle. Admittedly, we haven't had the time to scan through the application and its resources in fine detail, but nothing new has jumped out at us in our cursory once-over trying to find new features. This again suggests, that any new items will be pushed from Apple rather than built into iTunes. Alternatively, the announcement tomorrow could be in advance of any new feature availability.

Facebook timing is probably coincidental. We think that the Facebook e-mail announcement could possibly be part of the mix, but that seems a little too tenuous for a major iTunes "event." Yes, this development could be Facebook/Ping related, but we're guessing that it's just unrelated to the Facebook announcement.

Don't forget that Facebook and Ping were originally meant to work together, but Apple found the Facebook terms unacceptable. Apple and Facebook have been working together to bypass those issues to provide that integration. Apple recently worked with Twitter to add Ping integration to the popular social network.

It's probably not the Mac App Store. Could this simply be the Mac application store going live? We doubt it because (1) it's a bit early for that, and (2) in the demo it was a standalone application. On a similar note, we're guessing that this new development isn't going to focus on printing or AirPlay either.

We're kind of blase about the itun.es link shortening domain. Yes, it's possible that tomorrow's announcement has something to do with Apple's acquisition of the itun.es domain (way back in 2006, if memory serves), but really is that worth all this fuss and bother? We doubt it.

Apple tells us to Never Forget. Apple's teaser states "Tomorrow is just another day. That you'll never forget." TUAW wonders whether the reference to "never forgetting" has something to do with Apple's cloud data center in North Carolina. We think it would rock if we could sync iTunes to the cloud and have access from anywhere we have Internet connections. All your media, anywhere, anytime.

If only it were Dropbox. Perhaps, never forgetting means "never forget" your purchases, a feature that's now in-place for application and iBook purchases but one still MIA for songs. If so, that's hardly worth a major announcement so we're skeptical on that.

We also doubt this has anything to do with remote time machine coordination/buying out Dropbox, although (1) that would rock, (2) it would fit into the whole "never forget" thing but (3) it has little to do with iTunes, although we're happy to speculate that iTunes could become not just your home media manager but also your personal file manager. Again, not likely. Even though it would rock. But not likely.

What about the Beatles? No. Just no. Please? We know. It's kind of obvious. But please no. Then again... as noted by reader daydalus, there's a certain resonance between the clock faces and another iconic image, seen at right.

So what can it be? Here's where we turn the floor over to you, our TUAW braintrust. What have you figured out and what do you think that Apple's likely to announce?

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