Last Minute MWSF Predictions

FCC regulations require Macintosh-oriented web sites to publish predictions of upcoming Apple announcements prior to each Macworld Expo. Just under the gun, here are mine.

New Computers

While most other Expo prognosticators are focusing on everything other than new Macs, the most obvious announcement ought to be just that: some brand-spanking new computers. You may recall that Apple is still a computer manufacturer. Media players and wireless base stations are merely peripherals. Also remember that Apple announced months ago that new machines released after January would only boot into Mac OS X. Debuting just such a machine today will allow Jobs to talk about Apple’s two most important products at the same time: Mac OS X and new computers.

My guess: New professional desktops, with minor processor speed bumps, but with support for new hardware technologies like FireWire 2 and USB2. It’s the new hardware support that will make it easy to digest the “no booting into OS 9” limitation, since Mac OS 9 doesn’t support these technologies, and no one in their right mind would encourage Apple to spend engineering resources to add it. The message will be simple: If you want great new hardware technologies, you want Mac OS X.

New iPods

The iPod has been a huge hit. Huge. But other than adding larger drives and a slightly different touch-sensitive wheel dingus, it has remained unchanged since its inception. The rumor mill claims the new iPods will have color screens and will play QuickTime movies. Rip, mix, and burn DVDs? Sounds very fun, and very plausible. My only doubt is whether such a gadget could be made for a reasonably low price. The iPod proved that $500 gadgets can sell. The Newton showed that $1,000 gadgets don’t.

My guess: Yes. And hopefully for something close to $500.

Better Airport

This one seems too obvious to mention. Apple led the way to industry support of 802.11b. That was long ago, and the industry has caught up. Look for 802.11g support, which is, like way totally faster, dude.

My guess: Totally.

Tablet Computer

Journalists like the idea of tablet computers because they’re a new concept, and so they’re something to write about. But do people actually want them? I don’t think so. Then again, there must be some purpose for Inkwell.

My guess: No.