Macworld Keynote: Getting Down To Business?

Itis that time of year again when everyone has a prediction of what Apple CEO and industry keystone, Steve Jobs, will talk about come the Macworld Keynote tomorrow. Iim not different, Iive got an opinion of what the major announcement will be, though my opinion has little to do with movies, though I do think that will be a keynote subject.

What could possibly be bigger than movies, you ask?

Business. I think Apple is finally ready to take the plunge into the IT pool and give us some killer business offerings, and hereis why I think so:

Xserve and Mac Pro early announcements:
Many pundits believe that Apple announced the updates to its pro computer lineup a week early to make room for a slue of other product announcements. That may be, but I think Apple did it because it to lay a foundation in the minds of business folks that Apple is more than iPhones and iPods. By using the media to emphasize Appleis pro offerings during CES Steve Jobs may be setting the stage for an avalanche of business related tools geared for the small to medium size enterprise.

Apple may offer a "home" server as well. This would be a scaled down Xserve, ideal for very small offices and homes. It will be a turnkey device preloaded with everything you need to set up computing for an office or a home. This will likely replace Apple TV at home and allow folks to download movies and such in a big way. In the office, when tied to a small storage device, this new home Xserve will be ideal for record storage and such.

Back To My Mac:
One of the "secret" features of OS X Leopard is Back To My Mac, a method of accessing you home or business based Mac from anywhere you can access the Internet. Remote Desktop is nothing new and any UNIX or Windows user will attest to the usefulness of being able get to a desktop from someplace else, but few can do it from the Internet -- at least not without a lot of hoop-jumping.

What Apple has done is streamline the process by using your .Mac account. If you set it up correctly with security in mind you could have an industry standard two-factor authentication model that will let you log in to your main (or virtual) Mac from anywhere and you can grab data, run apps, and do just about anything you need in relative safety.

New Laptop Lineup:
The MacBook Pro is a sweet laptop, and if you have a need for major mobile horsepower itis what you need. There there are many people, however, both in the business and private sector, that donit need or want all of that power. For these folks even the svelte MackBook is too bulky for them. What they want is an neat, trim device that lets them get to the applications and data they need, but does not require a lot of heavy lifting. Enter the MacBook Lite.

Well, I suppose it could also be called the iPhone Plus. Whatever Apple chooses to call it the device will redefine mobile computing.

Like an iPod Touch and iPhone the MacBook Lite will access the Internet via hotspots or through your phone. If you can access the Internet, you can access you Mac back at your home or office. Now you can do almost anything you could at your big Mac: update presentations, load photos, check email and calendars. The MacBook Lite should be a tiny thing with maybe a 7-inch or 10-inch touch-sensitive screen and either a micro-drive or Flash memory for storage.? Youill be able to do 90 percent of what you can do on a full-size MacBook with the Lite.

Of course, such an offering would be equally at home in a briefcase or a backpack, and it would fit in well with the Home Xserve.

Yes, I believe Apple will make announcement about movie rentals and such, but that is relatively small potatoes compared to the business foray, and Apple has become increasingly shiny in the IT shops. A strong offering could really expand Appleis space in the corporate world.

I hope Iim right and I guess weill see tomorrow.

Stay tuned.