Despite much hype, rumour and guesswork, Apple’s next-generation PowerBook failed to make an appearance at last week’s Macworld Expo 2000 in San Francisco.

Code-named ‘Pismo’, it is rumoured to have an industrial design similar to the current model, with the possible addition of some coloured or translucent accent panels. The biggest difference, in addition to the standard bumps of clock speed, RAM and hard disk, will be the addition of dual 400Mbps, six-pin FireWire ports - at the expense of the SCSI port - dual stacked 12Mbps USB ports (running on independent buses), an AirPort slot, a low-power ATI Rage 128 video card and a new 100MHz UMA motherboard. Pismo may even feature a full-sized ‘glowing’ keyboard, if some reports are to be believed.

According to sources, Apple shelved a San Francisco Macworld Expo Pismo launch because there is still a large volume of current G3 PowerBooks in sales channels. The new portable professional Mac is, however, "ready and waiting" for a launch at Tokyo’s Macworld Expo from February 17-19, 2000. Other possible release dates include Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (May 15-18) or the Macworld Expo in New York (July 18-21).

PowerBook guru Jason D. O'Grady reports that the new PowerBook "wasn't ready for prime time".

"Apple has a policy of not announcing hardware that it cannot ship within 30 days, and Pismo may have slipped outside that window," O’Grady suggests. "A Go2Mac.com source assured me that a heat issue that cropped up in some early development units was fixed by repositioning a heat shield, effectively dropping the temperature to normal operating ranges."

O’Grady also picked up a slip in Steve Jobs’ keynote speech: "If you listened carefully, you heard Steve virtually confirm that Pismo will ship with an AirPort slot under the keyboard. He let the cat out of the bag when he said that all Apple products were now shipping with AirPort. Freudian slip?".

For all the news from Macworld Expo 2000, San Francisco, go to Macworld’s round-up pages.