By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 6:07 pm
When I liveblog Apple press events, the number one question from attendees is…well, kind of irritating, once you’ve heard it for the four hundredth time: “Is there a live stream of this event?” Usually, the answer is no, unless you count the occasional unauthorized spystream from someone in the audience using a phone app like Qik. Unlike a number of its competitors, Apple’s practice has been to post video of its events later rather than to broadcast it live.
Not tomorrow, though: The company has announced that it’ll broadcast a live stream of its traditional September music event. And there’s an interesting twist: It’s using its HTTP Streaming technology, which works on Macs, iPhones, and iPads. And that’s it. Windows users are apparently out of luck, although I imagine they’ll still be able watch a playback version later.
I’m in Berlin at the moment to attend the IFA consumer electronics show, which is why I won’t be at tomorrow’s event in person–I’m glad that the computer I happened to bring with me is a Mac, and that I have an iPhone with me. But I’ll only watch the live stream if I happen to be somewhere at 7pm Berlin time tomorrow where I can watch video without bankrupting myself on metered Internet access.
Conspiracy theorists are entitled to wonder whether this unexpected move has anything to do with June’s iPhone 4 keynote at Apple’s WWDC event, in which wireless network problems fouled up a large chunk of the demo and Steve Jobs was reduced to pleading with livebloggers in the audience to shut down their Internet connections. By livestreaming the event, Apple gets to be the primary means by which the world learns about the news.
(Of course, if there are any major technical problems tomorrow, they’ll be all the more embarrassing if people can see them live on the Internet…)
Over at Daring Fireball, John Gruber is musing that a successful live stream by Apple would spell doom for “the live-blogging racket.” I’m not so sure. While it’s true that it might eliminate the value of livebloggers relaying every spec, feature, and other detail that’s revealed, that sounds like a good thing to me: It would let them spend less time parroting facts and more time providing instant analysis. And at my liveblog events, at least, I find that the comments from the crowd are at least as interesting as what I have to say–as long as they aren’t “Is there a live stream of this event?”