Apple has been running on thin ice for a while, and with false reports that Steve Jobs was on his deathbed, didn't help things much either. Nevertheless, Steve Jobs is perfectly fine and in good-(ish) health, and the annual Macworld Expo is under way.
I'm not in San Francisco for the event, partly because I can't afford the plane ticket but mainly because there's more chance of me getting a free ticket to Hell than a visa to the United States. Still, I've been keeping in touch with the Macworld floor and speaking to friends and colleagues, students alike, about what they expect out of the event - and out of Apple.
I spoke to Beau Giles, a friend of mine living studying in Australia. I asked him what he wanted out of the event:
"Web based versions of iWork which sync with MobileMe would be a great advantage. I'd be able to work on things from everywhere, and always have my MacBook in sync with the cloud; I could have local copies of work, sync them with the cloud, then use the cloud based versions of iWork on other computers. What would be even better is not just Macs, but PCs too."
As both a student and a Mac user, I asked him about other opportunties Apple could jump into, which other companies have already done:
"Well, even mobile versions of iWork for the iPhone and other mobile devices would be really useful. I could tap out some work on the iPhone, and arrive home to have it already synced and ready to go on the Mac."
Windows 7 beta is only around the corner, expected in the next few days, the next version of Mac OS X, "Snow Leopard" is slated for a mid-summer release. I asked him about "Snow Leopard":
"Any performance improvements are obviously good improvements, and I'm sure everyone would love to see these. Microsoft Exchange integration will be a big plus - no longer forced to use Microsoft software, with Exchange being integrated into the core apps (the Mail application, iCal, Address Book)."
I thankfully have many friends who use Apple products; mainly the iPod, but for those who use the Mac, I wanted to get a bit of balance. I spoke to my good friend Elliot Harrison, who has written on iGeneration before:
"Just off the top of my head, online storage applications like MobileMe free for students. It would mitigate the costs of expensive backup storage drives and provide students with a 'safe' place to backup work onto. Instead of paying £60 (around $100) a year, maybe if a person buys a Mac as a student, to throw that in for free."
In a hilarious twist (for me, anyway), he said afterwards:
Elliot: For f**k's sake get rid of the Mac mini... it's well outdated. Zack: Apparently they'll be bringing it back. Elliot: Urgh, well as long as it's updated I don't care. 1.8Ghz of processing power can barely run a toaster nowadays.
There is plenty going on, and more sources you can shake a stick at to keep up to date. I'll write again once the expo is over to see whether students, and those at college and university, have anything to look forward to.
If you had 5 minutes with Steve Jobs, what would you ask for? Share and share alike.