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The Back Page
by Bryan Chaffin

What Will, and Won't Be Announced At MACWORLD SF
December 31st, 1999

What is it about good friends? The enjoyment of good company is one of those things in life that simply can't be described. Perhaps you can. I guess my Mac is a good friend. That's why I am going to be sheening halfway across the continent (in that I am already in the middle) to spend the week with several thousand other rabid Mac users.

Speaking of MACWORLD, there seems to be a lot of nonsense circulating from the usual suspects about what we can expect to see from Apple. I will be honest in that I fully expect this MACWORLD to be somewhat lackluster when compared to the last two. At MACWORLD New York, we got the new iBook, which was delightful. AirPort was cool too, though QuickTime TV was a little less sexy. MACWORLD San Francisco was also very exciting due to the colored iMacs and the Blue & White G3.

Much of the last 18 months was spent waiting for Apple to unveil their new product lines. The anticipation was a turn on. Now that the full product line has been revealed, the anticipation has been lessened. That doesn't mean that new iMac, PowerMac, iBook, and PowerBook models won't blow our doors off in the future. It also does not address the issue of an Apple branded hand held. I am very stoked about that and wish I knew when it was going to come.

With that said, it's time for me to debunk the crap out there.

New 17" iMacs

The first thing on my hit list is this nonsense about a 17" iMac hitting the market. Someone was smoking a bit too much crack when they made this up. For one thing, the iMac DV line was just introduced 3 months ago. There is no way that Apple will confuse their marketing message on the iMac DV so soon after its release. More importantly, the company is not going to dilute its iMovie marketing by bringing a new focus on a new iMac. Apple has a brief window to fully exploit their lead in the Desktop Video market and it is important that they milk it for all they can. Throw in a new iMac DV 17" and the press will focus solely on the new bigger screen. Most of the mainstream press has already proven they don't grasp the importance of Desktop Video as it is, so there is no need to offer them more opportunity to forget about it.

So I could be wrong, but I am not. Apple will release 17" iMacs, and will probably do so during 2000, but not just yet.

The Bottom Line: No new iMac models at this MACWORLD.

A New PowerBook

I am pretty sure that Apple will indeed release a new PowerBook at MACWORLD. The current PowerBook was introduced at the WWDC in May, more than 8 months ago. More importantly, Jason O'Grady of O'Grady's PowerPage <http://www.ogrady.com/> thinks that the new PowerBook, code named Pismo, will be released. That works for me. Mr. O'Grady is one of the most connected journalists in our industry, especially in the portable area, and I have no problem tipping my hat to his knowledge in this area. So, I can go with this. Since I have no specific 1st hand knowledge of the Pismo model, I will leave the specification speculating to Mr. O'Grady and those other sites in the rumor business.

Bottom Line: A definite announcement for this MACWORLD.

A New iBook

I go both ways on this. I think it would behoove Apple to release a faster iBook. I personally thought that the 300 MHz was a bit slow when the product was released, and it's been long enough that a speed boost is inline. Apple could go ahead and add a microphone at the same time, but I am not holding my breath. I don't see FireWire making it either, though if Apple wants to gain critical mass for FireWire, then they will have to do this sooner, rather than later. I think this will be a revision for later on down the road.

MACWORLD San Francisco is a great venue for releasing a speed-bumped iBook, but so is MACWORLD Expo Tokyo. The iBook has been a raging success in Japan, and since that is coming up shortly after MACWORLD San Francisco, I think Apple may wait until then to introduce it.

The Bottom Line: I am going to be wishy-washy on this one. I will not be surprised either way if Apple does, or does not release a faster model.

Apple's Internet Strategy

Apple is going to announce some sort of new Internet strategy. I am not sure what that will be, though it will certainly involve some sort of new dial-up service. There will be a portal (who really thinks that portals are all that great?), and blah, blah, blah. I think there will also be something pretty cool that no one besides Mr. Jobs and his team know about. I have absolutely no idea what that is, but I will be very surprised if something very cool is not sprung upon us.

The Bottom Line: Apple will introduce something at this MACWORLD that involves a new Internet strategy.

Rebranding The Apple Image

Whatever. This is nothing but more crack being smoked by those whose claim to fame is making up crap.

The bottom line: nope, nada, nothing.

Speed bumped PowerMac G4s

I think that Apple will announce faster G4s, hopefully they will at least announce models that match the original specs of a 400, a 450, and a 500 MHz model. My only concern over this "prediction" is that it was not that long ago that Apple announced the low end 350 MHz machine was being bumped to the Sawtooth motherboard. This had to happen at some point anyway, so I will stick to my guns on this. This is about the right time frame that Motorola originally gave for having the production problems solved for the high end G4s. Mum's been the word since then, but I think we will have a treat. It sure would be great if Apple surprised us by bumping everything to a 450, 500, and 550 MHz lineup, but I don't think that will happen. In any event, this will be an evolutionary improvement to the line, not a sweeping change.

The bottom line: Apple will announce faster PowerMac G4s.

There you have it. New PowerBooks, a new Internet strategy, and faster PowerMac G4s. We may get faster iBooks. We won't see new iMacs, and we won't see any rebranding of the Apple image. As I did for MACWORLD New York, I will grade myself soon after this MACWORLD is over.

And hey, Happy New Year! May 2000 be even better than 1999!

Your comments are welcomed.


began using Apple computers in 1983 in a high school BASIC programming class. He started using Macs in 1990 when the Kinko's guy taught him how to use Aldus PageMaker, finally buying a Power Computing Power 100 in 1995. Today, Bryan is the Editor of The Mac Observer, and has contributed to the print versions of MacAddict and MacFormat (UK).

You can send your comments directly to him, or you can also post your comments below.

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