Another January means another round of fortune telling. The week leading up to Macworld Expo is when pundits predict what Apple has in store for us in the new year. With that let's dive into what Steve Jobs could announce at the Moscone Center in San Francisco one week from today.
From most to least likely:
iLife & iWork '07 - Apple's iApps usually get updated at Macworld Expo and this year should be no exception. Look for updates to both of Apple's software suites and maybe we'll even see the addition of a spreadsheet (rumored to be called "Numbers" or "Sheets").
[odds: even money]
iTV - Steve Jobs introduced us to iTV (a code name) at a press event on 12 September 2006 and told us that it's "coming in Q1 2007." I'm pretty sure that it's coming out at Macworld Expo, I'm just not sure about what it does. I'm hoping that in addition to being an Airport Express for video, I hope that it includes some TiVO-like DVR functionality (which would require an external HDD/Mac mini/Elgato API) and comes with Netflix online, which CEO Reed Hastings said was coming "in January." And how about that remote?
[odds: even money]
Mac mini - The Mac mini is due for an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and we'll most likely see that announced at Expo. It's a perfect fit for the iTV.
[odds: even money]
Mac OS 10.5 - Leopard could be released at Macworld Expo despite Steve Jobs' assertion that it would be released in "Spring 2007." Remember that Steve likes to under-promise and over-deliver and take a peek under your seat at the keynote address.
Mac Pro - Apple's desktop Mac is due for a quad-core Intel Xeon Processor, an upgrade from the current dual-core silicon. Expect the Mac Pro to inherit a pair of Intel's brand-new, quad-core Xeon 5355 processors. We know that it works because CNet already installed two of these bad boys in a Mac Pro. The Xserve may also go quad-core with an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700.
Displays - Look for Apple to announce a 17-inch Cinema display to complement their existing 20, 23 and 30-inch monitors. It looks like Apple will also refresh the entire Cinema Display line to include built-in iSight cameras, as they already build them into all MacBooks and iMacs. Apple also quietly discontinued the external iSight cameras recently. Don't be surprised if Apple also includes HDMI inputs so that they work with the iTV and can play copy-protected HD content (HDCP). I just hope that Apple makes the new displays affordable.
iPod - The iPod was last updated on 12 September 2006 (30/80GB video) and the 4/8GB nanos was announced on 7 September 2005. Although there are constant rumors of a full-screen "true" video iPod I don't think that it's ready yet. I think that we're more likely to see a bump to 100GB capacity, courtesy of Toshiba's new 1.8-inch drive. There's also a chance that Apple could add WiFi and/or Bluetooth to the iPod but I wouldn't hold my breath. We're more likely to see a keyboard with a built-in iPod dock.
[100GB odds: 2:1]
[WiFi/BT odds: 5:1]
Apple Phone - The iPhone has to be the most-hyped piece of vaporware in the history of Apple products. While there are plenty of patent filings and overseas reports indicating that it exists, I think that there's almost no way that it can live up to expectations. I also think that it could be a decoy planted by Apple to keep the rumor mill busy.
Thin 12" MBP - Rumors abound of an ultra-thin 12-inch MacBook Pro targeting photographers despite Apple's claim that "it ain't going to happen." The introduction a 12" MacBook Pro would fill a gap left by the 12" PowerBook model, which was dropped during the transition to Intel in early 2006. Tough call as the 12" model was wildly popular with the jet set and commuters. I think that it's more likely to be a 12" MacBook aimed squarely at students.
Mac Tablet - This is the Apple product that I want most. Despite the requisite patent applications and overseas reports I think that the small potential market and the fact that most Tablet PCs and UMPCs have stumbled are signs that it's not likely to happen. I guess there's always that chance of "one more thing..."
What are your predictions for Macworld Expo SF 2007?