I’ve been to Macworld in San Francisco. The noise over new product introductions from Apple is always fodder for conversation (to mix a few metaphors).
This year, it’s not just noise. It’s a stack of new product predictions that baffles experienced Apple watchers.
There’s always a need to understand the differences between what we want Apple to deliver at Macworld, what they’re capable of delivering, and what they will deliver.
Apple’s resurgence the past few years has ignited the flames of imagination. iMac. iBook. iLife. iPod. Intel. Mac mini. iTunes. TV shows. Movies. Wireless. Where does it end?
It’s not that the bag is full of ideas about what could show up at Macworld, it’s that there are three or four bags. They’re all full. Most ideas about new products are plausible because Apple CEO Steve Jobs keeps surprising us, so everything is possible.
Not only will Macworld 2006 attendees need a program for talks, demonstrations, and the expo floor, they’ll need a list of all the predictions for new Apple products.
This will be the first of multiple attempts to sort out what can be expected at Macworld, vs. what we want, vs. what’s likely to take place.
With possibly the best record on product predictions, Think Secret‘s list of potential products at Macworld 2006 is all over the map. The venerable Mac rumor site has improved on language usage, too. For example:
“Apple appears on track to deliver an Intel-based iBook early next year, sources report, and in doing so will replace its long-standing 14.1-inch model with a widescreen 13.3-inch display.”
Well, is that specific? Or not? “Early next year” could take us to May. But a 13.3-inch display is specific.
Climbing out on a different limb, Think Secret says, “Apple is planning to unveil a robust new content distribution system in January at Macworld Expo alongside its revamped media-savvy Mac mini…”
So, we’ll get some kind of new content system and a new Mac mini. Wow. Sounds great. Wait. There’s more.
“Apple is planning to release its first entry-level iBook laptops with Intel processors next January at Macworld Expo in San Francisco…”
Alrighty now. Think Secret says those are credible reports. Add those to the list of other new toys, such as Motorola iTunes phones, Airport Express AV, Mac mini, iPod shuffle, et al.
How about AppleInsider? They quote a report from UBS Investment Research:
“UBS believes it is likely Apple will announce new products and content at its January 10, 2006 Macworld with the likely introduction of the first of the Intel- based Macs, which would be much earlier than the company’s June guidance.”
Duh. Anything else the ‘analysts’ believe may show up at Macworld in January? Like a crowd of Mac users?
“Apple could eventually discuss more innovations around media hubs (and related services) that act as storage units for music, movies, photos and/or other types of home entertainment—pointing out that Intel’s soon-to-be introduced “Viiv” could allow the company to explore additional consumer entertainment opportunities within the personal computer.”
See what I mean? This stack of new products is higher than, uh, higher than Pam Anderson’s stacks while wearing five inch heels.
Recap Alert: What do we have so far? Intel-based Macs; either a mini, an iBook, a PowerBook, an iMac, or something else. Oh, there’s also rumors of a new low end iPod shuffle; perhaps as small as a bean you simply place into your ear, and it holds 10,000 songs (thank you, SNL).
Macworld the past few years has been a venue for upgrades to the iLife Suite and most expect 2006 to carry that tradition. If so, look for minor updates to iTunes, iMovie HD, iDVD, GarageBand, and iPhoto.
It’s been a year since we saw the introduction to the iWork Suite, so I look forward to an update to Pages and Keynote and perhaps an addition, say, a spreadsheet called ‘Numbers.’ It could happen.
Almost no one is predicting a replacement for the just released iPod nano or iPod with video capabilities, though some think we may see a high end iPod with wireless built in.
For some time, Tera’s been predicting an evolutionary product she calls Airport Express AV. That’s simply a wireless hub with audio AND video built in and would connect to your TV to stream audio and video from your wireless Mac.
That, too, is plausible. The problem is, ‘where do you put it on the stack?’ We’ve already got new Mac with Intel chips that might show up (new iMacs, new PowerBooks, new iBooks), and there’s possibly new iPods, new iLife and iWork software, a new Mac mini, new additions to the iTunes Music Store, and possibly some kind of new movie content distribution system.
Isn’t that enough?
While it may not show up in time for Macworld (or, it might), AppleInsider says Apple is prepping an iPod “boombox.” Presumably, that would be a complementary product to the “boobtubebox” that Tera says we’ll see.
Apple seems to have figured out that Apple Stores can sell more than Macs. The stores today are crowded with iPod users buying all the gadgets to go with their new iPods.
Will Apple soon be selling TVs in the Apple Store? I hope not. But, to be safe, let’s add it to the stack. It could happen.
Apple might want to make stock brokerage services available in the Apple Store. The stock has become white hot and finally, finally, we’re seeing analysts change their tune from ‘buy, buy, buy’ to ‘hold’ or ‘neutral.’ I’ve seen target prices as high as $86. That’s a P/E ratio that’s living on another planet.
Back to Macworld and new Apple products.
I know what I want, I know what I expect, and I know Apple’s likely to deliver a surprise or two. Despite dozens of news stories and predictions, that’s about all I know.
Tera Jean Patricks
You’re always giving me a hard time about climbing out on a prediction limb? Where’s your prediction list?
Jack D. Miller
Intel-based Mac of some kind. More iTunes Music Store content deals. iLife and iWork updates. New iPod shuffle (smaller, cheaper). And a new rabbit.
Almost no one is saying anything about an introduction to OS X ‘Leopard’ at Macworld. Looks like that won’t show up until the WWDC later in the year.
Carol Mary Miller
Jack, I’m not buying you another iPod, even if it’s wireless with brain implants for a screen and keyboard and costs $99.