Warm Up Rally Heats Up MACWORLD

<body> MACWORLD Expo kicked off today with the fun filled Warm Up Rally. With over 400 vendors, and show goers from 70 countries, this expo promises to be memorable. Expo director Paul Kent started things of with a near immediate reference to forthcoming hardware announcements at tomorrowis big keynote speech. Although he did not offer any details, the other speakers at this morningis Rally seemed to reinforce that idea.

The first speaker of the day was Dr. Mac himself, Bob Levitus. As has become tradition, he conducted his unofficial MACWORLD user survey. Among the interesting results of the VERY unofficial survey were that roughly 10% of users used an iBook or iMac at their primary computer, about 75% used Appleis iTools, an astonishing 90% had broad band access, and an equally astonishing 50% came to MACWORLD with the idea of learning more about digital video editing. His first hint at hardware announcements came when asked the "Admittedly loaded question" of how many people like the hockey-puck mouse. A resounding four people found Appleis current rodent appealing.

Levitus gave his annual report card on the state of Apple and Apple related products. While stock performance and current product line received grades of A-, while the new user interface for QuickTime 4 and Sherlock 2 received a grade of F, and drew a roar of approval from the boisterous crowd. With the crowd geared up, Levitus dove head first into the wonderful world of Mac based rumors.

After filling the audience in on yesterdayis developmentis between Ric Fordis MacinTouch and Apple legal, Levitus threw his own hat into the rumor ring. While offering no unique insight, he did lend credibility to some of the more popular MACWORLD rumors. Among his predictions are a new iMac, a new keyboard and mouse, a smaller Cinema Display, the Mac Cube, and even multiprocessing G4s. Among items that he thinks we will not see is an Apple branded PDA, new iBooks, or new PowerBooks.

To close his presentation, Levitus asked the audience to vote for a few Best Of categories. The winners included Appleis G4 and AirPort tying for best product, FireWire and AirPort tying for best technology, Unreal Tournament winning by a landslide as best game, Casady & Greene winning best software company, and PhotoShop as best product. In the best web site category, their was no clear winner. After a number of sites split votes, and Macworld.com received no votes, one member of the crowd, to the Mac Observer staffis delight, shouted out "Mac Observer!" We could not agree more. However, our balloon was burst when somebody mentioned Version Tracker, which won the award hands down.

Apple representative Keith Attuney (and we are sorry if we have the spelling wrong) spoke next, and informed us that the Apple QuickTime movie trailer section has become a Hollywood phenomenon. When that section launched, Apple had to seek studios to post their movies, now major movie studios approach Apple to post their content.

MacCentralis Deb Shadowitz then spoke of the Apple Beginner Sessions, and how "normal" people can stake their claim in the Mac world.

Jim Baker demonstrated some amazing QuickTime technologies, indulging a live stream of the hit game show "Who Wantis To Be A Millionaire" with an interactive interface imposed over the top, allowing viewers to play along with the show contestants. Baker also showed us his first foray in his own home digital video editing, an entertaining account of a recent drunken visit to Japan. The movie was pieced together on his flight to the states, using his FireWire enabled PowerBook and FinalCut Pro. Baker spoke with a refreshing candor of the decreasing differences in picture quality between QuickTime and the latest versions of RealPlayer and Windows Media Player. As the competition closes the performance gap, Baker argued, Apple will be forced to approach QuickTime with a renewed vigor.

Andy Inahkto closed the morning session in a way that only he can. Blending comedy, geek-ness, and an interesting perspective on computing, Inahkto gave his interesting perspective on the current state of the computer industry in general, and the Macintosh in particular. Inahkto closed by bowing to the Apple Godis for seeing the release of a new operating system, OS X. Much to the crowdis dismay, Inahkto said he believed that OS X will be demonstrated tomorrow, but will not be ready to ship for a number of weeks yet.

All in all, the Warm Up Rally set a positive vibe for the rest of the show, generated excitement for tomorrowis big keynote speech, and left the audience anxiously awaiting the weekis festivities. </body>