I’m not sure if you’ve seen the Bill Graham on Google Street View, but it’s enormous. The Yerba Buena Theatre, where Apple frequently hosts press events for iPhone and iPad launches, has a seating capacity of about 750. Apple’s own auditorium, where the “S” variants of iPhones have usually been announced, has a seating capacity of about 300, while the Flint Center, where Apple launched the iPhones 6 and the Watch, holds over 2,000.
The Bill Graham can seat 6,000 or more, depending on configuration.
Don’t read too much into this yet. The venue is just a rumour right now, though the secretive quality of the building permits and
MacRumors’ Hoodlines’ source lend credence to this being Apple’s next venue. If it is, that’s a lot of space to fill. The rumours and pattern right now would suggest the launch of the iPhones 6S, a new Apple TV, iOS 9, and watchOS 2. There’s nothing on that list that screams that it needs nearly three times the seating capacity of last year’s event. What am I missing here?
Update: I’ve seen some chatter suggesting that Apple doesn’t necessarily need to fill all 6,000 seats, which is true enough. The balconies, for example, don’t need to be occupied, which could be as much as 2,000—3,000 seats. But that still leaves a venue much larger than any others they’ve used before. And anyone who’s ever been to an arena-sized rock show in time for the opening band knows that a half-filled venue sucks the vibe right out of the crowd.