CES is raging in Las Vegas, most of us are wondering what Apple has in store for their own annual expo, Macworld, which kicks off a week from now. We've combed through some of the top Mac rumors sites to pick out our favorite Macworld predictions and assigned a percentage of probability to each.While
Last year it was the iPhone, two years ago it was the Intel iMac, the year before that the iPod shuffle and the Mac mini. While clearly, not every year is as exciting as the last, Apple always has something in store for us. History would suggest that this year's announcement won't be as earth shattering as the iPhone last year, but one never really knows what the Great and Mysterious Jobs has planned.
We invite you to chime in via the comments about what you think will be announced or unveiled at Macworld next week and, if you'd like, disagree vehemently with what we've written. Let the rampant speculation begin!
An interesting sidenote: I am perhaps the only ReadWriteWeb author who isn't a regular Mac user. But if prediction number 1 pans out, then I see that changing very quickly.
1. An Apple subnotebook - This one has been kicking about for years. The rumor is that Apple will announce some sort of subnotebook (think: 10.4" screen or smaller) that has no optical drive, a solid state drive, and maybe even a multi-touch screen. What lends more credence to the rumor this year, perhaps, is that the market for these small devices is heating up. The Asus EEE PC is flying off shelves and Everex is planning the release of a subnotebook based on the Via NanoBook reference design (Packard Bell is the NanoBook OEM for Europe). As hot as UMPCs are, and even though CNBC claims they're already in production (though, they say it will have a 12" display, which I really don't consider a subnotebook), this one still seems kind of unlikely. I hope I'm wrong, but 45% probability.
2. 3G iPhone announcement - AT&T's CEO says it is coming in 2008, and a 3G iPhone is a no-brainer. It will help Apple meet their initial sales goal of 10 million units by the end of 2008. 60% probability.
3. iPhone 2 - The reason they don't already have a 3G iPhone, according to Steve Jobs, is that battery technology isn't good enough to support it. So if you're going to release a 3G iPhone with a new battery, why not just announce the second version of the thing? The iPhone 2 would have more memory, an improved camera, and built in support for third party apps. These are all things that seem likely in future iterations of the iPhone, so if the 3G iPhone is coming, I think other improvements are likely. 60% probability.
3a. New iPods - As long as we're getting a new iPhone, we might as well get new ipods, right? Well, the iPod product line was just updated in September, so it is unlikely that it will be again so soon. But if there is an iPhone with a larger flash drive on the way, expect the iPod Touch to get the same treatment. A 128 GB SSD iPod Touch would rock. 30% probability.
Mac subnotebook concept image via MacRumors.com.
4. News about iPhone SDK - When the iPhone arrived, Stave Jobs said the Internet was its SDK. That certainly drove the creation of a lot of mobile web apps for the iPhone, and was a smart way to promote the iPhone's great Internet browsing capabilities, but it wasn't enough for many users. That's why Apple is planning a real SDK for the iPhone for February. With Google's Android on the horizon and Yahoo! today announcing an open mobile widget platform, the time seems right for the iPhone SDK. This one isn't really a rumor, so 100% probability that we hear about it at Macworld.
5. iTunes movie rentals - This one also isn't really a rumor. The New York Times sort of confirmed it two weeks ago and we've been hearing about Apple cutting deals with studios for 24-rental downloads via iTunes for weeks now. With Netflix planning a set top box of their own, it makes sense for Apple to bring rentals to iTunes (and Apple TV). This one is 100% probability - all that's left is the details.
6. The future of DRM - DRM is dead, but Apple wasn't invited to the party. Of the 4 major labels that have announced plans to sell DRM-free music, only one (EMI) is doing so with Apple. Universal and Warner are dealing with Amazon right now, and Sony BMG is being whacky and selling their DRM-free download in stores (yeah, I don't get it either). So who knows what the future of DRM at Apple is, but you can bet Jobs will address it with a 95% probability (and 100% probability he'll remind us of his memo to the music industry in the process).
7. Jay-Z and Apple form record label - One of the more fun rumors to crop up in the past week or so, is that rap mogul Jay-Z has joined forces with Apple to start a new record label. One would have to assume that a record label run by Apple would use digital distribution exclusively, which isn't necessarily a bad idea. Jay-Z has his hand in everything, and Apple does always end the Jobsnote with a musical performance... still, 10% probability.
8. New Cinema Display - We haven't had new models since 2004. The longest time between updates since the product line began in 1999. The time seems right for an update, perhaps with official Windows drivers? We'll, but I'll cheat and make this one a push: 50% probability.
9. The return of the Newton - There are many who think/hope/wish/yearn that Apple will release a tablet PC. Their multitouch tech would make for one killer tablet, and people are more responsive to non-PC computing devices now then they were 10 years ago. But there is a problem with this idea: Apple already has a PDA, and it's called the iPhone. So the probability of them launching a larger touchscreen device right now is 0% in my opinion, because it runs the risk of cannibalizing some of the iPhone/iPod Touch market. However, I'll give 40% probability to a touchscreen Macbook.
Steve Jobs photo credit: dfarber