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Last fall, Apple refreshed its all-in-one iMac line and debuted Front Row, a piece of software that hijacks the usual Mac UI and replaces it with a simple interface – easily visible on a TV screen from the couch – allowing for presentation of photo slideshows, home movies, music, purchased TV show downloads, and movie trailers. The last item is the most interesting: if Front Row can stream movie trailers from Apple’s website, why not whole movies?

Jobs has famously said he doesn’t like TV. Yet he can’t be too upset over the fact that customers had downloaded three million videos (largely music videos and TV shows) from the iTunes Music Store by early December – before all the recipients of video iPods over the holiday got online. The movie industry, like the music industry before it, has been fighting online distribution; so maybe Chairman Jobs will be the one to put it in place.

Even without a big movie deal or a media Mac, though, it’s a no-brainer to expect more TV shows and other video content available on iTunes. We expect to see more iPod gazers with white earbuds – and now with eyes glued to tiny screens.

A New iPod?

Saturday Night Live recently produced a sketch in which their version of Steve Jobs announced a new iPod, and a minute later said it was obsolete and replaced it – with a model that was obsolete in another minute.

The iPod Shuffle, Bajarin notes, has been a terrifically popular product – but it’s out of stock now. He expects a new Shuffle model to be announced soon, probably at next week’s expo. “Here’s a product that’s extremely successful, and they kill it,” Bajarin said. The strategy may not be as insane as it sounds. He notes that the iPod mini was similarly popular, and Apple nixed it in favor of the iPod nano, which has been a major hit.

It’s possible that analyzing such rumors and speculations simply plays into Apple’s master plan – and saves the company marketing dollars by driving anticipation. But it’s reasonable to ask how long that master plan can go on succeeding. Jobs’ habit of control, secrecy, and surprise puts him at risk of painting himself into a corner, by creating expectations that even Apple may not be able to meet – at least not every year.

Daniel Drew Turner is a freelance technology writer based in San Francisco.

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