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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Why the bar gets raised for Apple

After the glitches following recent product introductions, the company's got to get it right--from the start.

What's up Jobs' sleeve this time around?

The guessing game is almost over. On Tuesday, Apple will hold a press conference here in San Francisco to announce--well, Apple's invite just says "Let's Rock." But unless 99.99 percent of the blogging and journalistic world is wrong--a phenomenon hardly unknown--Apple's going to announce a refresh of its iPod line.

In March, the audio chipmaker Wolfson told its shareholders that it had failed to win a contract to design next-generation media players for "a major Tier 1 customer" planning a third-quarter launch. Wonder who that might be? The September launch date is a no-brainer as that's when Apple and every other tech appliance maker tries to get as many new units as possible into the market ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Earlier Friday, I spoke with Tom Krazit about what Jobs likely will announce--as well as the chances for a redesign of the iPod Nano as well as rumors of a new version of ITunes.

The bar usually gets set higher when it comes to Apple product launches--and this time around it is no different. There likely will be even more than the predictably insane scrutiny because of the glitches which accompanied the introductions of the iPhone 3G and MobileMe.

Redesign for the Nano?

Still, I haven't heard anyone at Apple complaining about the company being unfairly singled out. This just goes with the role of being the media's favorite eye candy. Besides, I'd wager that over the years Apple has received millions of dollars in free publicity by cranking up the buzz machine in advance of official technology debuts.

Apple's flaks may have stewed, but each time the company got dinged by Fake Steve Jobs it was worth its weight in marketing gold. Seriously, outside of family members and confirmed sadomasochists, just how many people would be sufficiently interested to read a blog called Fake Mark Hurd or (gasp!) Fake Sam Palmisano?

But there's no need to overthink this. Right now, the test of a successful launch for Apple comes down to the basics: As Krazit points out, the product just has to work. Everything else is gravy.

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