The great Steve Jobs may have died. But one of the most effective viral marketing techniques attributed to the late Apple founder is alive and kicking at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California.
How does this technique work? Simple: create a rumour; let an army of willing geek bloggers spread the word to build up expectations; and top it off with a high-profile, masterfully delivered presentation in which you announce a product that someone else has already invented – albeit not with such an innovative interface and stunning industrial design.
An avalanche of rumours is clogging up the blogosphere these days predicting the next great revolutionary gadget from Apple... just as it happened for months in the run-up to the unveiling of the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.
Should we really get ready for the arrival of the iTV, then?
So it seems. Considering the high credibility of some of the sources involved in making us believe that Apple will try to make us buy a product that not only already exists but also practically every family in the world already owns (a TV screen), it's safe to assume that something is going.
Two of those sources are Walter Isaacson (author of the new Steve Jobs biography, written following dozens of interview-hours with the former Apple CEO) and the financial news agency Bloomberg.
Let's begin with the latter. What did Bloomberg find out? It learned – from three different sources with direct knowledge of the project – the name of the man allegedly leading the development of the iTV. Who is him? Jeff Robbin, the same software engineer who designed iTunes and convinced Steve Jobs to make it compatible with Windows OS.
Moving on to Isaacson, what does his book claim exactly that has so many bloggers drooling? Apparently, Jobs told Isaacson a little "secret". Following a lot of thinking, the Apple boss had finally figured out the way to unite the up-to-now disjointed worlds of the TV and the Internet – something he had unsuccessfully tried to achieve with Apple TV.
What features can we expect from this new flat screen? (Besides a beautiful design and a little apple stamped somewhere in there, that is) If Job's successor Tim Cook has mastered this marketing technique in a similar fashion that his predecessor did, the product announced next year should be capable of surprising us all.
Still, we can envisage certain key features that the first Apple connected TV will probably have. The most jaw-dropping of them will need to come – once again – from the interface department.
Even when it's a risky business attempting to crystal ball an Apple product that is apparently at least 12 months down the line, it wouldn't be crazy to imagine that – similarly to how early Apple computers introduced the mouse, the iPod made us familiarise with the click wheel and the iPhone killed the mobile keyboard – the iTV will come without a remote control.
Instead, to control an iTV (and most other TVs after that, if it goes as well as it did in 2007 with Apple's first smart phone) all you will need is your iPhone, iPad or maybe even your Android-powered mobile device (given that the boss is not around any more).
Touchscreens, not old-fashioned movable buttons, will let users seamlessly select the video content that they want to preview, watch, record or transfer from one device to another through the same finger gestures that have now become the natural way to interact with computers.
This wouldn't be all that groundbreaking for the TV industry. In fact, there are some consumer electronic manufacturers who have already thought about and even launched products based on just such an interface. It's just that not many TV users know about it yet.
That might change once the Apple logo is stamped on the iTV, though.