Sunday, January 05, 2003

Here it is!
MacUnderground presents its...
Official Macworld SF 2003 Keynote Predictions!
[pause for applause]
These are the educated guesses of the MacUnderground weblog, formulated from news, trends, events, prices, and (most importantly) rumors.
[pause for laughter]
So here we go!
I'm going to start with my "negative points," things that won't happen.
• No new iMacs
• No new eMacs
• No new LCD displays
These were sparked by a shocking report out of Think Secret a few days ago. I'm taking the position that we'll see the welcome computer updates in the weeks following the expo, and the displays sometime after that.
• No new iBooks
• No new Powerbooks
Despite a mysterious, disappearing report of a new laptop (the one that weighs 0.3 pounds lighter) at Mac Rumors, I'm convinced it's too soon for these. I think we'll be seeing stronger iBooks in the upcoming months.
• No Xserve announcements
MWSF is a consumer show, the Xserve doesn't belong there.

The following negatives are rumors I totally disagree with, basically surprise announcements I'm convinced we won't see.
• No iTunes 4
I wish I could say otherwise, but it's too soon for iTunes 4. I'm betting we see it within six months time.
• No iPhone
I don't wish I could say otherwise, here. An iPhone is a lousy idea at this stage in the American economy and the cell phone market. Besides, Apple has thrown its trust with Sony/Ericsson in the cell market. Not just is an iPhone an impractical device in a thoroughly saturated market.

Here are the announcements I think we will see.
• Faster AirPort
• $50 iApps bundle
These are generally accepted, and I have no reason to doubt them.
• Apple branded web browser
It was that or iTunes 4, and I already established that it's too soon for the mp3 software's next update. Apple hired the man who created Chimera Navigator (possibly the most successful third-party web browser for OS X) over the summer for unknown reasons (maybe he's a great cook!). It feels like the right time for this iApp to hit us.
• New hardware...
I know, the real question is "what is it?!" Not a PDA, not a phone, then what. Think Secret speculated on a possible tablet, while many other sites have pushed for what they describe as an iPod II, I'm calling it the iDLD, and giving it my vote for Apple's surprise announcement.
This iDLD will be like an iPod in its ability to play mp3s, and could probably be called the iPod's bigger cousin. However, the design of this device would have to be fundamentally different than that of the iPod.
First, it needs to be larger. A color screen is fine and dandy, but what mp4 movies are you going to watch on a screen the size of a movie ticket stub. It won't be too much larger (I'm guessing about an inch, an inch and a half at the most), because the device needs to stay small and able to fit into your pocket.
Second, it'll need a slightly more complex interface, for better controls. This might be as simple as a two or three extra buttons, but we'll assume for now that the solid-state scroll wheel is still there.
Finally, here are few possible other features, sorted from the most likely to the least. I wouldn't bet the theoretical farm on any of these (maybe the first, if you don't mind gambling your theoretical chickens). (1) An iTunes-like visualizer for when listening to your mp3s. (2) Bluetooth for quick transfer of your iCal updates, which could be coupled with (3) Rendezvous, although that's pushing it. Lastly, remember the hub-bub over (4) Dynamic Ornamental Appearance... well I'd say there's a very remote chance in hell that we could possibly see this (although it is the most unlikely of the four here).

What about a tablet though? I'm not ruling it out, and I nearly picked it over the iDLD (I was visited by three ghosts while I slept). Not to totally humbug those who would still love to see the iPad in two days time, I'm giving it a 35% chance of release. My support, with 65% confidence, is still behind the iDLD, though.

All in all, this looks like one spectacular keynote in the making.

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