Friday, January 02, 2004

Brought to you by the letter "i" and the word "box"...

Mac Rumors is reporting on a sudden wave of Apple "Set Top Box" rumors describing a TV-top device known as the iBox. Of course, Mac Rumors is also quick to point out that these rumors are fairly unreliable and that the "Set Top Box" made the site's 2003 Rumor Reject List.

Some of the latest rumblings are coming from this report claiming that the "iBox" is already in production and on its way to release. They claim that the box plugs into one's TV and provides digital hub-ish features, kinda like iLife-in-a-box meets TiVo. Features are said to include TV recording, 802.11b/g wireless, special versions of iTunes, iPhoto, and iDVD, as well as a SuperDrive. All of this - as well as a decent sized hard drive for holding all this stuff - is said to be powered by a G3, and Mac Rumors points out that Apple has never produced a G3 computer capable of DVD burning.

One thing going for this rumor however, is the fact that it's something Apple tried once before. In 1995 (pre-Jobsian era) Apple actually produced and test-marketed a set top box. And guess what? It, like many other Apple products of that time (from the MacTV to the Quicktake cameras to the Pippin gaming system), failed with flying colors! So maybe that's not really helping the iBox's case.

And of course, " isn't in the business of spreading rumors." In fact, they said that themselves (hence the quotes)! Also, Steve Jobs has been noted as saying that he doesn't believe the TV and the PC are destined to join together in some crazy hybrid device, though one could easily argue that this "iBox" wouldn't be a TV/PC hybrid (because, as the describe it, it isn't). Still, Steve Jobs is one stubborn man.

So, will Tuesday's Stevenote bring a box full of surprises, an iBox full of surprises? I personally don't think so, but who knows what that "One more thing" will be...

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Coming Soon: A Year in Review

Just a teaser here. I'm working on a "Best and Worst of 2003" article for this weekend. To keep you interested for the next few days, here are some of the categories for the year's "honors"...

- Best Application
- Most Overly-Hyped Application
- Most Annoying Complaint
- Best No Show
- Best "Wrong" Rumor that was Actually Right

Bet you can't wait! (or you really don't care, but at least give me credit for doing something site-related with my Winter Break)

Round up the roundups!

With the Stevenote just days away, Mac Rumors has put together a MWSF Rumor Roundup, recapping the latest rumors.

Of note, is the fact that Apple has still not made any broadcasting plans public. A Quicktime webcast and Apple Store theater broadcasts are expected, but still not confirmed (MacUnderground's live coverage is relying on Apple Store theater broadcasts).

The biggest rumor right now is that of the mini iPods, which have confirmed almost completely, with only the expected prices still up in the air. Also circulating are iApp rumors, ranging from an update of the iLife suite to the addition of a new iApp (perhaps audio-related, or perhaps a word processor). Xserve updates are also rumored, though some sites a speculating that the announcement may be held until after the expo in order to keep the keynote's focus on consumer products. And, speaking of consumer products, Final Cut Express 2.0 is also expected, with some CompUSAs apparently receiving early shipments of the major update (my own sidetrack: if FCE 2.0 is ready-to-go, it could be the special freebie for keynote-goers at the Moscone Center that Steve will probably reveal during his speech).

But with only one hardware announcement and a handful of software updates confirmed, you can't help but wonder what we're missing, what Apple's keeping under wraps. Some speculation suggests that it might be something to celebrate the Macintosh's 20th anniversary, but there's no evidence to support that (yet).

Obviously, there's still more to come.

Rumors rolling in...

Mac Rumors Page 2 is reporting on several new MWSF rumors that have surfaced in the past couple of days.

First up is continuing rumors of a new iApp. The latest claims received by MR predict an audio iApp with a large library of audio clips (around 3 GB). These latest details aren't as reliable as older information, though.

The other new claim is that Apple's teamed up with MPEG Encoding company, Optibase. This comes from an anonymous report to Mac Rumors, so it's reliability is also questionable.

While both of these rumors lack a reliable backing, they're still worth mentioning with the MWSF keynote less than five days away.

Rumors and rumors...

I'm still sorting through MWSF rumors, but here's the latest.

Mac Rumors is providing more confirmation on Final Cut Express's update to 2.0 (as already predicted in the Rumor Watch). The latest report from Mac Rumors also claims that some CompUSA stores are receiving new shipments from Apple carrying a "Do Not Open Before Jan. 6" tag (suggesting that this could be FCE 2).

With Xserve rumors conflicting, I've (for now) pulled the Xserve prediction from the Rumor Watch. AppleInsider is claiming that the servers will see an update in January or February, but not at the Stevenote, and Think Secret claims that a keynote update is in the works. I've decided to hold my final decision on the Xserve rumors until Friday, but right now I'm thinking that TS's report is looking more reliable (espcially with MR's latest FCE confirmation).

There's definitely more to come with the keynote less than five and a half days away and rumor sites readying their final predictions (myself included, of course).

And, by the way, Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Drive at one-point-five?

Mac Rumors has uncovered a possible source of cheap, small hard drives for rumored mini-iPods. The company produces 1-inch 1.5 GB hard drives for $65 (when purchased in lots of 10,000). While no rumors connect the company to Apple or the new iPods, this information helps support mini-iPod rumors.

Like a rainbow... of drive possibilities?

This Mac Rumors forum thread regarding the latest mini-iPod confirmation (see "It's like a rainbow...", below) has brought up many interesting possibilities for low-cost storage options Apple can use in new iPods.

One example is a $65 1.5 GB hard drive. If Apple could cut a deal for buying a whole bunch of them, they could sell the iPods for $129 and make a profit of about $30 (after the cost of the rest of the device). Obviously it's just a general example, but it's a good one.

Flash storage still seems very, very unlikely. Hard drives are much cheaper per-MB (or GB) than flash technology.

It's like a rainbow...

Mac Rumors is providing even more confirmation on the latest mini-iPod MWSF rumors.

According to this latest report, the new iPods will actually be physically smaller than the current models, making them "mini" in size, storage capacity, and price. Current pricing information is still vague, but Mac Rumors describes it as "significantly less than current models." Storage sizes are still rumored to be 2 and 4 GB.

But that's where things get a bit confusing. The hard drives in the current iPods are some of the smallest (in physical size) on the market, with smaller ones costing more money. Of course, there's flash storage technology, but 2 GB flash drives cost upwards of $300 (the price of a new 10 GB iPod).

Simply put, either Apple's revolutionized solid-state storage with a cheap flash solution, or they've found new, smaller, and cheaper hard drives. While both seem rather amazing, the second is a bit more likely (though the first would be truly amazing). Hard drives as small (in storage capacity) as 2 GB and 4 GB would almost definitely have to be specially produced for Apple. There aren't really any 2 GB external hard drives on the market these days, so for all we know the low storage capacity might allow for these drives to be very small in physical size.

And Apple could always free up some space by cutting down on other parts of the iPod. The current models are so small because they have a slightly smaller battery (eight hours instead of ten) than the older ones. Maybe the trade off for a super-cheap, super-small iPod is a six-hour battery... (that's speculation more than anything else, though).

What we know for sure is that January 6's Stevenote is going to bring mini-iPods, with 2 and 4 GB capacities, colors, and smaller physical size than the current models.

Yes, it's a return to funky-colors for Apple...