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Apple's "in the air" teaser; Amazon and Pepsi promo; Netflix videos

Apple is once again hinting of a surprise in store for its Macworld San Francisco keynote. Also, Netflix's new unlimited movie streams may take on Apple movie rentals, and Pepsi aims to repeat its Superbowl 2004 music giveaway in 2008 — but with Amazon, not Apple.

Apple posts MWSF keynote teaser

Mirroring the large banners in front of the Moscone Center, Apple has refreshed its website to include a teaser that says "2008. There's something in the air."

The graphic provides little hint as to what will be released on Tuesday but explains that a replay of Apple chief Steve Jobs' keynote will be available that same afternoon. The Mac maker in recent years has made a tradition of offering a streaming edition of the keynote available a few hours after Jobs leaves the stage.

Apple's change also reflects a return to its practice of drumming up attention for its major press events. Although the firm generated considerable press by promising its 2002 San Francisco keynote would be "way beyond" the rumor sites and led to the flat-panel iMac G4, its homepage has largely remained quiet before later keynotes until 2007, when Apple generated excitement for what was learned to be the announcement of the iPhone.

2008.  There's something in the air.


Apple is widely expected to be releasing an ultralight notebook at this year's event.

Amazon, Pepsi launch Superbowl music giveaway

Confirming a rumor spread by Billboard, Amazon and Pepsi on Monday revealed a new promotional campaign to spur on sales of the former's digital music and the latter's drinks.

Called Pepsi Stuff, the campaign will be familiar to anyone who remembers Apple's 2004 iTunes giveaway: beginning on the Superbowl, Amazon MP3 will allow customers to download free songs using codes printed under any Pepsi bottle cap.

But instead of relying on random caps that promise a free song with as little as one purchased drink, the Amazon campaign will use a points system. Each bottle guarantees a code but only supplies enough points for one fifth of a song — a technique which both ensures frequent buyers and prevents the bottle-tipping that let some 2004 participants claim free songs without buying a bottle at all.

However, the tie-in also reveals an apparent split between Amazon and Universal Music Group. The record label is the lone major label not to participate in the campaign and previously said it would end a trial run of DRM-free music this month, though whether the contest indicates Universal's withdrawal from Amazon MP3 is unknown.

Analyst: Netflix offers unlimited videos, to feel little impact from Apple

Netflix has introduced an unlimited version of its Watch Instantly service that should have a "positive impact" on the DVD rental service's bottom line while shrugging off challenges from a likely iTunes rental service, according to an investment note from Piper Jaffray senior analyst Michael Olson.

Where before customers could only stream as many hours of video as dollars paid for their subscription — amounting to 17 hours of playtime for a $17 monthly fee — the update allows visitors to watch certain movies from the Internet as many times as they like.

Despite the newfound freedom, the service is not expected to hurt Netflix's costs in the short term and may lead to extra subscriptions in the long run, according to Olson.

And while many will claim Apple's service will trump the Netflix offering, its impact may be minimal as the rentals will be used chiefly by a small base of Apple TV owners, the analyst says. Apple will only significantly affect Netflix if it can use a movie rental feature to expand the number of Apple TVs sold.