06 January 2007

Outlandish Hobsblog MacWorld Predictions!

In the name of fun, I will postulate my top 10 interesting MacWorld announcements in order of their likelihood. Note, I am not saying they will all come to pass - indeed most will not as there isn't enough time for more than a few.

I'm not going to take the easy route of having a few slam-dunks either. We all know iLife07 will be out, and iWork07 too. And we all know Steve will talk about 10.5 a great deal. But 10.5 was never predicted by Apple to be ready by now, and I don't think they'll surprise people with it (and if they do, don't buy it, because it will not be ready for prime time).

So, here goes:

1. 8 core Mac Pros. This is a certainty within the next 2 months, if not at MacWorld. The Intel chips are ready, announced and should just plug in existing machines. Testing of such chips shows a 40% plus improvement over the existing four core versions on a price basis (the 4 core chips have lower clockspeeds at the same price point). Maybe not for all Mac Pro users, but those with lots of video processing and other tasks which thrive on multiple cores should be happy.

2. New displays with built-in iSight. This just makes sense given lack of iSight for sale and approach with all other Macs.

3. iTV. Steve will definitely say more on iTV - perhaps give us its final name? It may or may not be ready yet (I think it will use 802.11n and Apple will choose timing carefully when the near-standard is close enough to not cause them a bunch of lawsuits down the line).

4. iPod Phone. I'm still not sure this will be announced. See my previous posting for my views on this if and when it is announced. There have been some really well-written articles on this recently such as Steven Frank's thoughts and Aaron Adams' case for a VoIP phone rather than cell. (I think he's got a point, but I still think such a device would allow for mobile usage too). There's a good chance Steve will leave this topic until a later date as it's such a big announcement and complex that it may require an event of its own (and, remember, this is MACWorld)

5. Larger MacBook (a definite hole in the Apple product line up - a consumer laptop with a decent 15" screen)

6. Smaller MacBook Pro (also a hole in the lineup though not as severe as the MacBook)

7. True video iPod - ie a full widescreen model perhaps with 640x480 resolution.

8. iTunes 8. I'm basing this idea as much on the need to support the iPod Phone as anything else. iTunes 7 was quite recent and had many changes.

9. more movie studios on board; more iTS content.

10. International tv programming or perhaps first international movie availability with Disney.

One real longshot is the fabled xMac or grown-up Mac Mini (3.5" disk, higher end graphics, RAM, etc). However, there will not be a MacTablet for reasons that plenty of people have written about.

It should be great fun - and Apple is certainly stoking up the fires on this. But I wonder if the expectations are just too far ahead of what is really achievable right now, and that it'll be followed by a share price deflation and mediocre reviews. Remember it's the start of 2007 - there's still a lot more to come after this announcement.

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