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Will Disney Be a Factor in Apple’s Big Event?

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Apple invitation to its media event on January 27th.

If you listen for news about the tech industry in even the slightest way, you have to be following the tech news of another planet to have not heard about Apple’s oft-rumored tablet device.  This gadget has captured the attention of tech enthusiasts and even mainstream media for some time now, and they hype only grew when Apple started handing out invitations last week to a press event showcasing their “latest creation.”  We know that Disney and Apple have a pretty close relationship, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs serving on Disney’s Board of Directors.  So how might Disney be a part of Apple’s supposed unveiling this Wednesday?  You’ll have to click below to read my thoughts!

Okay, so this is completely speculation.  Apple has certainly been extremely quiet when it comes to the tablet, so I have absolutely no inside information.  I’m not trying to start rumors, either.  It’s just fun to speculate about this stuff sometimes.  Both companies have some exciting things going on around them, along with some interesting rumors (some more confirmed than others).  Let’s start looking at some of the news and rumors swirling around Disney and Apple and how they might possibly be related.

Movies From the Internet to Your Hands

Disney Movies Online

One of the biggest rumors surrounding the Apple tablet is that it will change the way we consume content.  In other words, maybe it’s time to look into things aside from the media and media player model.  Think about it: how long have you done the whole tape and VCR, DVD and DVD player, or Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray player thing?  These days, the Internet is a huge means of distribution.  You can find a wealth of video or audio content, enough to keep you busy for a lifetime.  Disney has a couple of things happening on this front.

Did you know you could view a selection of your Disney movies online for free?  Visit the Disney Movies Online site to see how it works and what titles are available. What if you could stream these movies straight to a handheld device wherever you have an Internet connection?  I know you can do this on your computer, but we’re talking about a smaller handheld device.

What’s more is that Disney has been dropping hints about their Keychest service.  When they first announced Keychest, we were supposed to hear more about it in a month.  That was in October, and we still don’t have much information about what exactly will be going on with Keychest.  Might Disney be holding off on any new Keychest info until Apple reveals more about their tablet?  This kind of goes on the heels of the streaming movies I mentioned before, but Keychest could open a lot of content to a portable tablet.  If Comcast signs on to Keychest, for example, would you be able to stream On Demand content to your tablet?

What I find interesting about these ideas is that they both involve things that Disney started, but have yet to finish.  Disney has been streaming movies online since roughly June of 2008, but the Disney Movies Online site has been under construction for a while.  And they’ve been only slightly less secretive about Keychest than Apple has been about the tablet.  Perhaps it’s coincidence, but these are both intriguing concepts for delivering content and it may match what Apple has in mind for the tablet.

TV’s Greatest Hits, Disney Style

ABC logo.In December, we started hearing rumors that Disney (along with a few other companies) was interested in a “best of” TV service for iTunes.  This would allow television companies to put their best shows on iTunes and users would pay a subscription fee to get the shows.  We’ve already talked about movies on a tablet, so would you be interested in watching TV on a tablet?

We all know that Disney owns a plethora of television content.  You could get shows from ABC, ABC Family, ESPN, the Disney Channel, Disney XD, and others.  Disney was one of the first companies to offer TV content on iTunes way back when, so a deal like this is by no means out of the question.  I could see Disney being one of the first companies to sign on to this idea of delivering TV shows to your Apple tablet.

Mickey’s Favorite Tunes, Games, and Apps

iPhone OS.

Apple would be crazy to ignore the fact that they have an accepted (even beloved by some) operating system in place for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  To go along with that, they have the biggest App Store with over 100,000 apps.  A lot of people think (and I agree) that the tablet will use some form of the iPhone operating system.  Apple isn’t going to want to put a full featured version of OS X on this device, and they probably don’t want another operating system to support.  That leaves the ever-popular iPhone OS.

I think that’s a great choice for the tablet.  The user experience is tight and beautiful, so why not use it?  Plus you’ll have access to dozens of Disney apps.  The official app gives you a portal to Disney shopping, games, and music.  Or you can go for the Radio Disney app and get all of the Disney music your kids (or you…who am I to judge?) can handle.  Both of these are free downloads in the App Store, giving you instant access to even more Disney content.  They also have a few paid apps, along with other Disney-related games.  Gaming is expected to be a big part of the tablet, and Disney Interactive Studios could bring some interesting titles.

What’s Going Down on Wednesday?

Honestly, I think only Apple knows that.  There are plenty of rumors that they are working out partnerships for content, so I wouldn’t be surprised if those companies knew some of the details.  I will say that I highly doubt Disney will have a presence at the official Apple event.  Apple may show the names of some companies that have signed on so far, but Apple really likes these events to be focused on Apple.  It would be more likely for Disney to have their own statement ready that says they are ready to commit to bringing content to the Apple tablet.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t learn everything on Wednesday.  We may have a couple months of slow news leaks ahead of us.  In other words, in the weeks leading up to the tablet’s official release we may be getting tidbits of info that weren’t revealed right away.

Whatever happens, Wednesday will be an interesting day.  I don’t know if any of these ideas will come to fruition, but it’s fun to speculate.  This is kind of our blue sky phase, where every idea is still in play.  So tell me what you have in mind!  Leave a comment below and tell me all about your wildest tablet fantasies…

UPDATE: Click here to read my post-announcement thoughts!

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