Change. Change is the one constant most relevant to many Apple users the past few years. Change is here to stay.
Apple plans on a flurry of Mac products in 2006, starting with a unique iBook using Intel chips. Can we keep up with the changes Apple has in store for us?
Notice that I used the term ‘Apple users’ instead of the more typical ‘Mac users?’ That’s a subtle but significant difference as Apple branches out and extends product branches to non-Mac users.
Over the past few years, Windows users have bought and own many more iPods than Mac users, though, as usual, Mac users were the pioneers; first iTunes, then iPod, then iTunes Music Store.
The changes of the past two years show us that Apple is expanding the market for Apple-branded products to the other 90-percent or so of the computer world.
Deeply embedded in the Windows world are Intel chips and Apple wants Intel’s chip-making capability to show up in future Apple products.
Notice that I used the term ‘Apple products’ instead of ‘future Macs.’ That’s a subtle but significant difference, too. Why? Because Apple is changing. Rapidly. Mac users will be required to change, too.
The first order of change for Mac users will be in the form of Intel-based Macs. Starting somewhere in 2006 the first Macs will show up with Intel Inside.
Which Mac and when? AppleInsider, which has a decent record on such prognostication efforts, says Intel Macs will show up in iBooks in January.
ThinkSecret also holds a decent record in predictions (remember the Mac mini nearly a year ago) and says pretty much the same.
Why should I argue with such well known sites with good track records at covering the future and secrets of all things Apple?
Because of the ‘one more thing’ syndrome.
Steve Jobs often ends his keynotes with a ‘one more thing’ phrase which then brings the house down with a new product announcement; often something fully unexpected yet a perfect fit within the confines of all things Apple.
I don’t expect Macworld 2006 to be much different. Here’s why.
Apple is on a roll. Macs are hot. Apple software is hot. iPods are hot. iTunes Music Store is hot. Almost every Mac is selling at record numbers (PowerMac G5 is not, but the market has shifted somewhat away from the huge-does-everything towers).
Apple cannot risk a deflating puncture to the current sales balloon by announcing a low-priced Intel-based Mac that competes in performance with the current Mac lineup.
For example, consensus says the iBook or the Mac mini will be the first to market with the new Intel chips. Regardless of which chip is chosen and which Mac it goes into, Apple must be careful not to cannibalize sales of current Macs, and not bring too much public attention to the upcoming switch to Intel, as buyers may go into a ‘wait and see’ mode, which could dampen sales of Macs for a year, or until the rollout is complete.
That situation tells me that Steve Jobs’ notorious ‘one more thing’ might be a one more thing we don’t expect.
We can expect a few other items to show up in Apple’s near term, starting with Macworld in January. I do not expect a $699 iBook with an Intel chip that runs OS X for Intel faster than a PowerBook or an iMac G5.
I do expect Apple to update iLife to ‘06, and perhaps add a new application to the suite of iTunes, iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, and GarageBand, and a price of about $99.
I do expect Apple to provide iLife ‘06 in a ‘ready for Intel Macs’ version; bundled with the first Intel-based Macs and not available for purchase.
I do expect Apple to introduce a smaller version of the iPod shuffle and perhaps another iPod, though the whole lineup extends smoothly from $99 to $399. Maybe we’ll see a high end iPod with a 16×9 screen.
I do expect Apple to introduce more music videos, more TV shows, and perhaps a few movies from Pixar, to the iTunes Music Store.
I do expect Apple to add a spreadsheet to iWork, and perhaps a trimmed down version of FileMaker Pro. It’s not a Microsoft Office Killer, but it would be an attractive package at $99.
I do expect Apple to announce an Airport Express AV which provides wireless connection from your Mac to your TV for both audio AND video. That would be a good place to introduce Front Row and Apple Remote capability for all Mac users. The whole thing could be bundled for $129.
I do not expect Apple to announce any changes to the PowerBooks, the iMacs, or the PowerMacs? Why? They just received updates last month so an update is highly unlikely.
Up to now I’m not too far out on a news prediction limb am I?
I do expect Apple to announce ‘one more thing.’ What will it be?
High on my list of suprises would be a new Mac mini with an Intel chip. If sold alongside the current Mac mini it would not cannibalize current Mac sales, and give Apple a chance to work out OS X for Intel bugs with a lower profile.
Higher on my list of surprises is the Intel-based iBook that both ThinkSecret and AppleInsider are talking about. Their sources report that the new iBook will be smaller, lighter, have an Intel Inside, and be the perfect launch for Apple’s next generation Macs.
I agree. While many Mac developers will not have their Mac applications ready to run on new Intel-based Macs, the Rosetta system will allow them to run with near-acceptable performance.
Adobe, Macromedia, Microsoft and others will not have their major applications ready for Intel-based Macs until late 2006 or early 2007, so Apple introducing a consumer Mac with an Intel Inside makes logical sense. Ostensibly, iBook and Mac mini users would be less demanding of performance than PowerBook, iMac, or PowerMac users.
Because all the above makes so much sense, seems so logical, seems to fit both Apple’s pattern for product delivery and market realities, it has to happen, right?
Except for that ‘one more thing’ syndrome. It always seems that there’s one more thing. That’s nagging me. One more thing. What would it be? I have an idea…
For crying out loud, Tera. What is it? If it’s not an Intel Mac mini or iBook, what would it be?
Jack D. Miller
OK, the way you’ve outlined it above, combined with the cat-out-of-the-bag news from AppleInsider and ThinkSecret, you’ve identified the target and probably hit it. Why would there be a need for ‘one more thing?’
The only piece missing in there would be the TV. What’s Apple’s strategy regarding the TV? Will the Mac mini be able to record TV as a TiVo-like device? That would be a great use of iTunes. Apple should buy Elgato just for the TV tuner technology.
Carol Mary Miller
It sounds to me, Tera, that you’re saying we’ll see an iBook or Mac mini with an Intel chip in January, and incremental changes to everything else on the list, but, there’s always the chance of ‘one more thing?’ Don’t worry. You’re not too far out on a limb with anything.