NEXT Week: Apple announces…?

The great Apple engine of consumer technology is grinding its way towards TV. Will this be the week it changes everything?

This is going to be one of those weeks when we know what the tech world is going to be talking about, even if we don’t know the specifics. Apple keynotes used to happen several times a year, but these days, we’re down to just one that’s pre-planned: the keynote that opens the World Wide Developer Conference. And the world’s press, bloggers and consumers will be watching.

It’s strange how an event for a very specific, very technical subset of society has become a point of focus for the mainstream press. but the keynote of the WWDC has reached that status. It’s the only time in the year when we know Apple will release new things well in advance – because the rest of the time, they give us maybe 10 days’ notice of a press event. And, like we were before the release of the iPhone and iPad, we know we’re in the run-up to something new from Apple, some big shift in their strategy. And we know they’re planning something around TV – but we don’t know what.

Why does it matter? Even if you’re not a user of – or a fan of – their products, there’s no doubt that the modern incarnation of the company has an uncanny knack for taking pre-existing products and making them mainstream. MP3 players, smartphones and tablets all existed before Apple entered the market with its own version. But it was the Apple version that made the concept popular – and in the case of MP3 players and (so far) tablets, came to dominate the market.

TV is in an odd place right now. Of all of our activities which involve information being shifted from point a to point b, the TV has been the least disrupted by the internet. There have been barrier to entry. If nothing else, the push to high-defenition has kept TV signal ahead of available bandwidth, making wholesale streaming of TV unlikely. Those days are coming to an end.  The bandwidth and performance is there now, though, so the market is ripe for something new. The days of broadcast TV, be it over the airwaves, via satellite or cable, as the only and predominant model of viewing are numbered. How numbered, none of us know, outside of Cupertino at least.

Perhaps Apple will announce something new in the TV space tomorrow. Perhaps it won’t. At the very least, we know we’re getting iOS 6. But it would take something pretty dramatic to happen elsewhere in the technology world for the early part of the week not to be dominated by Apple news.