The time for holding back is over. Apple has a boatload of products ready for primetime, customers are hungry and the competition is fierce. Now is the time to unleash it all. Here are my predictions for the October 22 event.
1. Mavericks. It's a given. The Golden Master is already in the hands of developers. OS X 10.9 Mavericks will be announced as the lead-off batter. In order to put another nail in the coffin of Windows, and continuing the tradition of low-cost, painless upgrades, Mavericks will appear in the Mac App store for US$9.99 when the event is over.
2. Mac Pro. Next, Apple will announce that the Mac Pro will begin shipping immediately. A base model with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of PCI Express flash storage will start at $2,499. We'll be on the edge of our seats, salivating, and the keynote will have hardly begun.
There may be a brief, tantalizing, awesome graphics demonstration on a 4K display just for punctuation. But it won't last long. The Big Show is about to begin.
3. iPad 5. With the major Macintosh business out of the way, the lights will dim slightly and it'll be time for the main event. First, Phil Schiller will announce the iPad 5. It'll be slimmer and sleeker. The side bezel will be reduced, like the iPad mini. It will weigh slightly less, yet maintain the same battery life. There will be an A7 processor and Touch ID. Prices will be unchanged.
This is no time to withhold technology. Customers with older iPads, especially those without Siri, will take notice and have plenty of reasons to upgrade.
4. iPad mini Retina. Next up will be the long awaited iPad mini Retina announcement. It will also have an A7 and Touch ID. Why hold back? The long-awaited Retina display will also be announced, but the "iPad mini Retina" won't start shipping until early December. Available colors: black, silver and gold. Gold as in gold for Apple's profits. The audience will burst into applause.
Then, Phil Schiller will start to telegraph that the keynote is coming to a close, but then pause. Then, with a wink, he'll say, "But wait! We have one more thing."
At this point a pedestal draped in black will slowly rise out of the stage. "What could THAT be?" Mr. Schiller asks coyly. Then he'll slowly stroll over, increasing the anticipation, and pull the drape off. And there, glowing, will be a 13-inch "iPad Pro" with every feature known to Apple smartphone and iPad technology, including 4G/LTE on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. Storage will start at 64 GB and there will be 128 and 256 GB options. Starting price: $999.
Large iPad concept: Image source & credit: MacRumors (used with permission)
Then, Mr. Schiller will introduce Mr. Craig Federigi who will talk about how hard Apple has worked on making this a superior tool for content creation and then give us a demo. It could involve book or magazine publishing and reading. Or maybe Final Cut Pro X. My crystal ball is hazy here, along with the ship date. It could ship in parallel with the iPad mini Retina or it could drift into next year. My guess would be early 2014. In any case, the scuttlebutt is that a 13-inch iPad is coming, sooner or later. It makes perfect sense.
Now that the audience is in pandemonium, Tim Cook will return to the stage and talk about how the hard work by all the Apple employees in 2013 has paid off. And with a wink, he'll remind us that there's much more in store for 2014.
Then the music will begin.
Martin Hajeck speculates what the iPad 5 might look like in Apple stores.
What we won't see during this event will be any kind of smartwatch or wearable computer technology or an Apple HDTV. I'm predicting all that is still in the works for next year. Finally, I suspect the Haswell MacBook Pros will be rolled out later, quietly as a modest upgrade. But still before Christmas.
All in all, I expect a rousing event, and we'll be writing about all these products for months, especially how the iPad Pro will accelerate the demise of the classic PC. Here's an easy prediction. With the new iPhones also shipping, I expect Apple to blow away the current record for Christmas quarter revenue.
Tech News Debris for the Week of October 9
There been a lot written lately about how investors just don't get Apple. The bears. The best one I saw was by John Gruber: "Design Quality and Customer Delight as Sustainable Advantages."
My take is that investors want to see Apple acting in such a way that it maximizes the money they can make in the stock market over the short term. Apple sees things differently. So when investors see copycat products eating into Apple's market share, they punish Apple in the market. It's not always a question of understanding Apple's log-term fundamentals, rather, it's about making investors money. And they're pissed when it's Apple that's making all the money. There's only so much to go around, and Apple has a large portion of it.
If you're thinking about one of the new iMacs, here's a terrific review over at AnandTech. "21.5-inch iMac (Late 2013) Review: Iris Pro Driving an Accurate Display."
Amazon is keen to get developers on fire about the Kindle Fire. Dan Rowinski talks about how Amazon will give developers plenty of reasons to build apps. "Amazon To Give Developers Rewards To Build For The Kindle Fire." It's been well researched that iOS developers know that Apple's slightly wealthier iPad (and iPhone) customers are inclined to buy more apps than Android customers do, so it'll be interesting to see how this business model works. Mr. Rowinski writes, "Amazon is not naïve. The company is well aware that it will need a robust application ecosystem already in place if it hopes for a successful entry into the smartphone wars dominated by Apple and Samsung." But will the customers buy a wide range of apps for a device they understand to be a shopping and eBook tablet? Time will tell.
Does the perceived security of a smartphone lead to a buying decision? Matt Asay claims it does not. You may not like the analysis, and you may believe that Apple can tout an edge. But the sales of Android devices suggest that most customers don't care. "No One But Eric Schmidt Cares If Android Is More Secure Than iOS." The subtitle tells all: "Apple and Google may like to spar over security, but it's not swaying consumer buying decisions." This is something to ponder.
One of the arguments for a larger iPad is to make life better for newspaper, magazine and book publishers and their readers. While this article doesn't address that issue, it describes some of the problems with tablet versions of magazines that are slowing the adoption of digital versions. This article is not a comprehensive analysis, but it does get the discussion going and has some interesting research numbers. "Why tablet magazines are a failure."
Finally, I love great industry stories, and there's a great story here about an exchange between a journalist in Finland and his encounter with Nokia executives. Look for the part about how a Nokia executive, back in 2007, took one of the new iPhones home to see what his four year daughter thought. It was an OMG moment. Dan Dilger hits one out of the park in: "How Apple's iPhone rapidly destroyed Nokia's world leading Symbian platform."
Crystal ball via Shutterstock.