Even though Steve Jobs has opted out of giving the keynote at this year's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, and Apple will not be attending another Macworld after this one, there will still be a keynote presentation -- it will just be given by Phil Schiller instead. Of course, since the keynote must go on, even without Mr. Jobs, there will also be speculation and predictions as to what Apple will announce during the keynote.
We at TUAW are not immune to this phenomenon and even though we will be liveblogging the keynote to provide you with the news as soon as it's actually announced, that won't stop us from engaging in a favorite pastime of the tech press: Macworld Expo keynote predictions. Of course, when considering this event and the impending announcements, especially in light of this being the last time Apple will take part, these questions, and many others, come to mind.
Will Phil be as entertaining as Steve? How long will Phil talk about the success of iTunes and the iPod before moving on to the other more exciting announcements? Who will be the musical guest? Will Phil be wearing a black turtleneck and jeans or will he try to start a new fashion trend of his own? Will Phil and Apple do anything "special" to commemorate the last keynote? What will be the "one more thing"? And, most importantly, will Phil talk about where Steve Jobs is and why he isn't doing the keynote?
Your intrepid TUAW writers have considered those very questions, and many more, through long days and nights of deliberation, discussion and discourse. In so doing, we have come up with some interesting, perhaps even controversial, prognostications, pre-visualizations and predictions of what new products and services will be announced at this this year's keynote. Read on for all our (at least partly serious) expectations.
For full Macworld Expo coverage, bookmark the TUAW Macworld Expo 2009 landing page.
Sure, a few of our ideas may seem unusual or far-fetched. But before it happened, who would have thought Apple would get into the cell phone business, let alone become a major force in it? Or, have an OS market share that was increasing? Heck, with the economy the way it is today, the fact that Apple is not only still in business, but thriving, is pretty much a miracle in itself.
Exciting, mind-altering and business defining events can sometimes happen in an instant (or 90 minutes) -- so sit back, relax and consider our Macworld Expo 2009 keynote predictions...
Phil is never going to be as entertaining as Steve Jobs. He's going to talk about how well the iPod touch sold during the holiday season, and how many songs and apps have sold in the iTunes Store during the last quarter and year, for at least 20 minutes. He'll segue between the iPod discussion to the new Macs and software by performing a Segway dance on the stage with Steve Wozniak. Phil's going to be wearing blue jeans and a TUAW hoodie during the keynote, ushering in a new era of TUAW love from the Cupertinians, who from now on will provide us with exclusive coverage of all new products.
Phil is going to tell us that Steve isn't doing the last keynote for one very big reason -- he's going to be the new CIO for the USA, and all government agencies will be migrating to Macs and iPhones within the next year.
But wait, there's more! During the Philnote, we're going to hear about the new Mac media server, which is a combination quad-core Mac mini and AppleTV. The AppleTV will be disappearing from Apple's shelves in the next month. And not only will there be quad-core media servers, but quad-core iMacs that use unibody construction and LED backlighting.
One more thing. Apple's going to announce a MacBook Air with a touch keyboard -- a tablet Mac. It will have built-in 3G capabilities and bridge the gap between the iPhone and the MacBook line. Cost? Only $799.
While Steve's predictions coming true would certainly liven up an otherwise dreary presentation, I'm in an Eeyore sort of mood, and think the keynote will be exactly that: an otherwise dreary presentation. We're definitely going to see a preview of Snow Leopard, which -- because of its raîson d'être of being Leopard with a cleaned-up, turbocharged foundation -- will likely include performance demos with a partner like Adobe (for Photoshop) or a gaming developer to show improvement in rendering quality. On the software front, we'll also see a new version of iWork, possibly optimized for Snow Leopard, but mostly with just modest enhancements for Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
After that, we'll see new iMacs and new Mac minis. Performance increases, better video cards, the new DisplayPort connector, and greener environmental specs all around. The Mac mini will come in an even smaller box than before, affording at least five percent more units per palette.
Third, and one more thing, will be the iPhone mini (or nano, or whatever they choose to call it). Since Apple must submit it for regulatory approval before it goes on sale, like the original iPhone, it makes sense to announce it now and release it mid-year. I'll go out on a limb to say that it will be available primarily as a pay-as-you-go device, perhaps for sale inside a clamshell package at your local big-box retailer. I'd love to say that it will be also available in a CDMA flavor for Verizon customers, since I am one, but it's not gonna happen. Sorry.
I believe that we might see some revamped Mac minis, and possibly some new iMacs. I wouldn't put it past Apple to release a new iPhone/iPod touch update and include some new features -- possibly including the much awaited notification service for applications, and copy/paste.
While I don't think we'll see any release of Snow Leopard, I believe that we will see some additional information, and possibly pricing (let's hope it's free, or at a reduced price due to it's lack of any user features).
Lastly, I think that Apple will surprise us all by releasing a new product that we've never seen before. The product will be amazing, and be called the iEverything. It will instantly do anything you say, just speak it, and it will do it. However, this product will not be available until 2010.
Return of the Cube: a new Mac mini with configurations that add a wireless SAN, making it usable as a media repository (and one that'll play nice with multiple iTunes libraries AND stream to Apple TV) but also smartly allocating space as needed for Time Machine. Might even include an option for an Apple TV in the box as well, making the new Cube everything from a Mac mini (low-end config) to a HTPC when fully tricked out.
Lots and lots of software talk. App Store chatter until we're ready to puke. iLife '09 seems to be a shoe-in. MobileMe discussion and upgrades/enhancements. Better tuning of Back to My Mac, with possibly some custom features for iPhone or touch users...
I think there will be a parade of 3rd-party folks talking about everything from how awesome it is to develop iPhone apps to new OS X solutions and hardware integrations. Expect something cool from Nike, for example.
One more thing? Dockable photo frame. A cross between a netbook and a tablet computer, in the form of "if Apple designed a Kindle," the iPad allows local access to your calendars, photos, mail and the web (just like an iPhone). It can be mounted on the wall and easily undocked. This makes a later upgrade to a Mac mini a logical step, as the iPad serves as the ideal front-end controller to a headless unit.
The new Mac mini is a lock, and I expect at least one other hardware announcement... probably the revamp of the 17" MacBook Pro to the new unibody configuration and quad-core processor. Disappoinment looms for mini-mavens, however, as the new unit will follow the consumer-grade MacBook into the Land of No More Firewire. Stack-style hub and hard drive vendors are probably already scrambling to refit their designs... and the first company to ship a USB-to-Firewire media converter that's less than $100 and works with the Mac will reap a bundle.
On the software side, iLife or iWork '09 would be a nice touch -- and speaking of touch, of course we'll be talking App Store. Perhaps Phil will take a hint from Craig & co. and introduce a 'top shelf' listing for iPhone apps that cost $5 and up, allowing developers to bring their premium work to a premium audience.
The tablet rumors notwithstanding, I don't expect any announcements of new form factors in the iPod line -- a midyear event would be better timing if the Q3 launch suggestions are on target. I also don't think we'll hear anything new on the Apple TV front.
Lastly, the One More Thing -- an iChat video session with Steve back in Cupertino, where he'll announce that he's 'going emeritus' from both the Apple and Pixar CEO roles so that he can focus his efforts on his newest venture: chief innovation adviser to the incoming Obama administration. (OK, that's a longshot, I admit.)
Updated mini (it's about time), and... that's about it from my end. I don't expect any huge releases, and, like Robert, I think it's going to be a pretty big downer.
Though you never know -- Apple says they have new products coming, and there's certainly been enough speculation floating around for them to premiere an iPhone nano or a tablet. But I don't think those are in the cards -- Phil will announce updates to the desktops, say that the iPhone and touch did great over Christmas (because they did), maybe show off iLife '09, and call it a day. Apple's last MacWorld keynote will end with a whimper, not with a "boom."
The iMac, often the star of Macworld Expo, will receive an update. The case will remain largely the same, though it'll probably get a speed bump in the form of those shiny, new 65W, low-power, quad-core desktop chips. As others have said, I'm sure a new Mac mini is coming.
Phil will give an update on Snow Leopard with a demo and perhaps a forthcoming release date. I also expect iLife '09.
Call me a pessimist, but I don't expect much more. The good news is that we'll find out in just a few days.
I'm excited about the news of a Mac mini update. I don't see many big surprises coming this year, though. I give credence to the theory that Apple's primary motivation for pulling out of Macworld is to relieve the company of the rigid development schedule which the trade show imposes. A tablet device of any kind would be an interesting development, but I think that its launch, if it's going to happen, will be outside of Macworld.
I'd love to see the Apple TV and the Mac mini get married, with DVR functionality added. I doubt we'll see that next week, but I'm pretty sure it's in the cards in the near future.
It's a foregone conclusion that the Mac mini will be receiving an update. Like Brett, I'd love to see it paired with the Apple TV (the ATV can still be sold separately, but I'd love a true Mac HTPC box), but I'm not holding my breath. I also think we'll see a new iMac -- maybe with the new quad-core mobile processors Intel is just starting to ship.
iWork '09, more details on Snow Leopard and a new iLife Suite seem like reasonable software requests.
Like the others, I think any huge product news (a larger iPod touch or other tablet-like devices) will be saved for an Apple-controlled event. Still, I expect the full dog and pony show touting iPhone app development.
And then, at the end, out of the darkness, Steve will appear and valiantly proclaim his continued plans to lead Apple forever and always. Well, maybe not.
Apple is done with Macworld. Even if they are going through with the keynote address this year it's only because they couldn't drop out completely this close to the event. Consequently, I don't believe Apple will announce much of anything spectacular on the hardware or software front and will save those for later in the year.
That said, there will still be some hardware and software announcements. I think we will see an updated Mac Mini in form factor and capability, an update to the iLife suite, more features and refinements to MobileMe and updates to iWork. In fact, the entire iWork suite may end up on the web much like Google Docs. I also think there's a good possibility we'll see updated iMacs and a preview of the next version of OS X (aka Snow Leopard) running on them.
Finally, the one more thing will be Phil Schiller's announcement that Steve Jobs will be transitioning out of his role as CEO of Apple and taking on a different role with the company -- probably one of "Charmain Emeritus" or similar. Job's replacement? Schiller himself. To be honest, I hope that last prediction doesn't really come true -- as I'm sure you all do. Unfortunately, I have a strong feeling it might. Right or wrong, we'll find out very soon.
Do you have any predictions for the Macworld Keynote? If so, hit us up in the comments.