Vern's Crystal Ball

OK boys and girls, enough frivolity. Itis time to get down to some serious speculation.

On August 7 at 10AM PT Appleis Steve Jobs will tell us whatis behind Door Number One, and perhaps Door Number Two and Three. Like everyone else Iive got some predictions. Some will likely be dead on the money while others will orbit Pluto (which is no longer a planet, BTW).

So, hereis my short list of what weill see from Apple:

  • .Mac enhancement with strong ties to Google: .Mac will be offline tomorrow during the announcements so it pretty much stands to reason that weill see some serious and long overdue upgrades to Appleis Net service. What you may not expect is that Apple and Google will offer some significant services due to some really close ties between the two companies. .Mac may be more like .Google after tomorrow. More space, better Google Office integration with Apple products (Safari, iLife, iWork), and better iPhone integration. I suspect iPhone users will have a lot to be happy about.

  • Leopard announcement: Now that the iPhone is out on the way Apple can concentrate of its other baby, OS X version 10.5. Leopard was ready, or pretty close to being ready back when Apple delayed its release to October. Work likely never stopped entirely on Leopard and Jobs will surprise every one (except me, of course) by announcing that Leopard will be available by the end of August, just in time for the new school year.

  • New iMacs: Speaking of being just in time for the new school year, new iMacs would be just the ticket, so Apple will likely announce new iMacs as well. Donit expect big design changes, the current design is excellent and will likely continue for some time. Do expect some internal design changes; more CPU power, bigger drives and the like.

  • New Mac mini: The Mac mini is in a weird, but needed category; itis the only other Mac besides the Pro that lets you bring your own monitor. What would be nicer is if it also let you fiddle with other upgrades, like graphics cards. To that end Apple will redesign the mini to accommodate third party cards. Also, the mini will have enhancements that will lend it to being more of a media center.

  • iWork and iLife Upgrades: These packages are due some spiffing up, especially in light of the new .Mac/Google offerings. Expect tighter Web integration across the board AND expect Apple to make Open Document a default standard on iWork.

Ok, those are my predictions. I think Iim close on all but the mini, which is a tough one to call.

Letis see how close I get. Feel free to posts your thoughts and grade how accurate I am.