I am about to do something I generally criticize when I see others doing it: Make last minute predictions as to what Apple will announce at next week's Macworld Expo. Typically, my attitude is, why bother? Wait a few more days and we'll all know for sure. There's no need to speculate at this point.
So why am I making an exception this time?
Partly, it's that, between my post-holiday let-down and my pre-Expo preparations, I find myself with nothing else particularly relevant to write about. It also just seemed like a fun thing to do. Not much of an excuse, I admit. But there it is.
Finally, with Steve Jobs not giving the keynote and with rumor sites showing an atypical shortage of firm predictions, some last minute prognostications seemed more relevant than usual. I have no inside knowledge here. My predictions are based solely on what I have read at various Web sites plus my own intuition.
So I'm going a bit out on a limb here -- and hope that it doesn't get sawed off behind me.
Actually, I'm not too worried. If my predictions are dead-on accurate, I will tout my prophetic abilities and launch a successful Psychic Mac Readings Web blog. If I am mainly off-target, I will deny that I ever wrote this column. To help support my denial, I have put a hidden code in the text for this column (unbeknownst to my editors); it will cause all copies of the column, anywhere on the Web, to self-destruct on my command. Oh, and if you've saved a copy of this column offline, don't attempt to open it. Remember what happened to people's memories in Men in Black? 'Nugh said. So I am feeling pretty safe here either way.
With these preliminaries now out of the way, here are my predictions for Phil Schiller's Macworld Expo 2009 Keynote:
After the usual opening PR slides showing how well Apple products are selling, the first announcement will be a new version of iLife. I'm not seeing much about exactly what will be new in iLife '09, although I do at least see significant improvements to iMovie. An upgrade to iWork will be announced next. I don't see a complete shift to converting these to Web-based applications (as suggested here), but some move in that direction appears likely.
Next up will be a sneak peak of Mac OS X 10.6. Phil will mainly show off why Snow Leopard will be worth getting -- despite its lack of new end-user features.
This will segue to the unveiling of new iMacs and Mac Pros. These new models will feature upgraded components designed to take maximum advantage of the new technologies coming in Mac OS X 10.6. The new Macs will also, of course, include the Mini DisplayPort already present in the MacBooks announced in late 2008.
Speaking of the Mini DisplayPort, the next announcement will be an expanded line of new Cinema Displays, adding 20" and 30" models to the already shipping 24" model.
Finally, the big announcement of the keynote: a revamped Mac mini. My crystal ball is a bit fuzzy on details -- but I definitely see increased expandability, such as to replace the hard drive and the optical drive (perhaps with a Blu-Ray drive option).
Will there be a "one more thing?" I am predicting no. However, I have received faint signals indicating a possible upgraded Apple TV.
Will there be any announcements regarding the iPhone or iPods? Nope. These will come later in the year, when Apple's holds one of its now familiar invitation-only media events. Same thing for a Mac tablet/netbook.
Fade out; lights up. The Keynote is over.