Every year, Macworld UK sends its magazine directly from the Macworld Expo show in San Francisco. This involves the people in the US staying up until four in the morning, so the editorial team in the UK can finish the magazine and send it to the printers. It’s the highlight of the year for the Macworld team; Apple launches a bunch of new products and we get to celebrate in San Francisco.
We couldn’t ask for more. Well, apart from a bit more time would be helpful. We normally spend two weeks on each cover of Macworld, but obviously in the USA we’ve got around two hours to put the cover together from start to finish.
Or so you’d think... what we actually do is cheat a bit. We design the cover in advance based upon what the team thinks is going to be released at Macworld Expo. This is a mixture of rumours, guesswork, careful deduction and slipping truth-serums into Apple staff’s drinks at the Christmas parties.
Then, when Steve Jobs makes his announcement we drop in the new product, do a few tweaks, crack on with writing the news pages and send it to the printers.
Anyway, this year we thought we’d share with you the results of our guesswork, and the reasoning behind it. So here’s what we think Steve Jobs will announced on 14 January and what we all may be testing out next year.
So with no further ado, here’s our current thinking on the crop of Macworld Expo rumours doing the rounds:
10. Penryn powered Mac Pro Probably the most obvious product and so likely to happen that it barely qualifies as a rumour. Intel recently updated its software development tools for OS X Leopard so expect to see the new Mac Pro announced at the start of the show.
9. A redesigned MacBook Pro It’s no secret that the MacBook Pro is looking more than a bit long-in-the-tooth. Visually it’s almost identical to the original Titanium G4 that Steve Jobs launched at Macworld, 9 January 2001. The rumour we’ve heard is that there will be a 13-inch MacBook Pro model. This could take the form of a MacBook with a powerful 3D graphics card, or a MacBook Pro with a smaller form factor.
This rumour is becoming conjoined and confused with the rumour of a smaller, touch screen portable MacBook nano.
8. Apple TV 2 Apple must do something with the Apple TV or risk losing out on this market forever. We’ve heard a rumour that the iPod touch / iPhone is going to act as a WiFi remote control for the Apple TV. An interesting concept although we don’t think it’ll go far enough to fix the fundamental problems that the Apple TV faces.
A deal with a company such as Elgato to incorporate Freeview TV recording into the Apple TV would go a long way with this device, as would a movie rental service to rival Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace. But if Apple has anything special planned for the Apple TV - we haven’t heard about it directly.
With last year’s sales below par, we expect something about the Apple TV at this year’s MacWorld Expo.
7. iPhone applications This is another hotly tipped favourite. Ever since Apple announced the third-party SDK to a limited number of publishers, we’ve known that iPhone applications are on the way. We’ve no idea what applications are being developed, although either iChat from Apple or Skype from a third-party would be most welcome.
6. New monitors Cheaper, sleeker and with the iSight built-in. That’s what we’ve heard. It’s about time too.
5 ESATA on MacPro and maybe iMac This one is another good possibility. FireWire 800 hasn’t really taken the world by storm, and both FireWire and USB 2.0 aren’t as fast as they used to be. ESATA offers speeds of up to 3GB/s. This is becoming commonplace on PCs, and widely adopted as an extra by high-end Mac users, making it the next logical step forward for Apple users external drive requirements.
4. A major investment According to Fortune, Apple is hoarding 15 billion dollars and needs to spend it soon (before investors start asking for it back).
So who, or what, is Apple going to buy? It could easily bid on the 700MHz spectrum up for sale in the USA (although with Google also bidding that could prove more expensive than it’s worth); it could pick up a significant movie or TV network (although Steve Jobs has links to Disney and recently sold Pixar, so that’s perhaps that’s not the deal on the cards); the rumour that Apple is going to buy Nintendo has reared it’s head again, although we’re putting this one down to fans thinking it’s a good match rather than anything substantial. The cultural ramifications could be huge (Nintendo is very much a Japanese company that is very close to the hearts of many Japanese people). Despite its troubles, Sony is still worth more than the $15 billion that Apple has, and - like Nintendo - would prove a cultural clash with Apple.
Still. Apple has to do something with all that money...
3. Jonathan Ive takes over as CEO It was reported in The Times newspaper that Jonathan Ive was being groomed to take over from Steve Jobs. We think that it is extremely unlikely that Steve Jobs will hand over power to Jonathan Ive in a formal setting (certainly this year), but where there’s smoke…
While The Times piece is fairly speculative, it would make some sense for Ive to replace Jobs as the public face of Apple. If Jobs were to suddenly leave Apple, it could wipe a huge amount off the stock price. As the design lead behind successes such as the iMac, iPod and iPhone, Jonathan Ive at the helm could allay investors fears.
2. A significant iPhone update It’s guaranteed that there’ll be some update to the iPhone at the Macworld Expo (even if it’s just a new software application). But we’re talking more significant than that: 32GB flash memory, GPS or 3G are all likely to arrive next year. The question is when.
We think that it’s a bit early for Apple to announce an update to the iPhone. Even if it has been out in the US for six months. What’s more likely is that we’ll see some software or firmware updates that can be applied to the current devices.
We have heard that Google is developing a GPS-lite technology that uses mobile phone masts to determine your position, rather than GPS. This could be a great announcement that solves one of the iPhone’s problems (GPS) without forcing anybody to purchase a new phone.
1. Multi Touch MacBook nano This is the biggie (or the ‘small-ie’, so to speak). We’re not really sure if the chatter surrounding this is to do with wishful thinking, or with genuine Apple leaks. But like the iPhone, iPod touch and Aluminium iMac; the more people talk about it, the more we’re starting to think it’s real.
It could be a larger iPhone with a keyboard; or a much smaller MacBook or a hybrid of the two. Personally I’m hoping for a miniaturised MacBook (complete with clamshell design and keyboard) but with a touch screen instead of a touch pad.
When asked about bringing the touch screen to the Mac Steve Jobs said “Multi Touch makes sense for the iPhone, not so much sense for the iMac, but consider it a research project”. Will we see the results of that research at the next Macworld Expo?
So that covers what we think Apple will announce at the Macworld Expo. We’re not sure if all of that will apply, or just some of it. There could be something completely different, although it’s been a while since Apple truly surprised us.
No matter what happens, we’ll be reporting live from the show on 14 Jan. See you there.