CUPERTINO, California—December 16, 2008—Apple® today announced that this year is the last year the company will exhibit at Macworld Expo. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, and it will be Apple’s last keynote at the show. The keynote address will be held at Moscone West on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Macworld will be held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center January 5-9, 2009. more…
If you’ve ever been to Macworld, you know that Apple’s exhibit usually dominates the hall. Their absence is going to leave a huge hole in the expo… assuming the conference can even continue without Apple. Given the other big names that pulled out of this year’s event, it’s entirely possible this may be the last Macworld. That would be really sad.
Also, I can’t believe that Steve Jobs won’t be personally giving the final keynote. What is up with this? It all sounds very suspicious.
I can totally understand why Apple may want to scale back its presence, but ditching the show all together seems strange to me. And, the fact that Phil Schiller will be giving the final keynote says one of three things (to me):
Apple has virtually nothing to announce.
Regardless of what they have to announce, Steve Jobs just isn’t up for it. He has been looking very thin (and sick) at the last few events.
Apple has things to announce, and Steve is well enough to do it, but his health is failing and there’s going to be a transition of public figures. Apple may see this as an opportunity to aid in that transition.
I’m sure there are a lot of other possible reasons, but those are the three that come to my mind. I can’t wait to see what happens.
This totally bummed me out! I guess my dream of someday attending a keynote in person is no longer an option. :(
UPDATE: This news was (obviously) talked about on all the big Mac sites tonight. After reading a lot of what people had to say, it seems like the consensus is that Apple’s press release should be taken at face value. Apple is simply moving away from 3rd party conferences and focusing on their own events and facilities for making product announcements, which gives them (Apple) total control over announcement schedules, etc… It’s also widely viewed that the keynote being given by Phil Schiller only serves to emphasize the fact that Apple no longer considers outside events to be a priority, and is not necessarily a reflection on the health of Steve Jobs. We’ll probably (hopefully) still be seeing Steve Jobs handle Apple’s own Special Events.
Although I’ve read a lot of convincing arguments as to why Apple did this, and that it may actually be a good thing (for Apple), it’s still very sad news. I enjoy the frenzy that the Apple community gets whipped into this time of year, but that won’t happen if Apple isn’t involved with Macworld. And, despite statements to the contrary, this could be the beginning of the end for Macworld Expo.
I’ve been pretty swamped this week but I thought it was about time I got to a followup post to my Macworld predictions. I didn’t do so well this year. Most of my predictions were actually wrong. And, in all honesty, what was announced left me slightly disappointed.
Macbook Air (aka Rich Guy Toy)
As we all know by now, the big announcement this year was Apple’s new ultra-slim laptop, the Macbook Air. The new Macbook Air is, in a word, stunning. It’s also an engineering marvel, and we should all praise Apple (and Intel) for this accomplishment. But, as cool as the Macbook Air is, I honestly can’t see myself buying one anytime soon.
In my opinion, the Macbook Air is totally inappropriate as a primary machine. And, with a price tag ranging from $1799 to $3098 for the base models, it’s an extremely expensive secondary machine. The technical specs on this computer by no means justify its price tag. You’re really just paying for the wow factor. On a side-note to this, I think it’s kind of sad that the largest hard drive available for the Macbook Air has LESS capacity than what’s available in the iPod (Classic).
I was all for Apple moving into the sub-notebook market, but unfortunately they chose to enter through a route that will be out of reach for most people, myself included. Apple’s clearly targeting consumers that require very little form their computer, and are willing to pay top dollar for it.
Apple made some significant usability improvements to the Google Maps application. I was really glad to see that. If you haven’t seen these features, there’s a guided tour available on the Apple site.
Apple also gave us the ability to add web-clippings to the home screen, and rearrange the home screen icons. I find this moderately useful.
I just have one question for Apple regarding the iPhone… Where’s my freakin ToDos? The ability to sync iCal ToDos should have been part of iPhone software 1.0. After 3 updates they still haven’t added this feature. What the hell? I don’t understand why this is so difficult. Can you tell I’m pissed about this? Please, Apple… give us ToDos!
Time Capsule is Apple’s new hardware companion for Leopard’s built-in backup feature, Time Machine. It’s basically an Airport Extreme base station with a built-in hard drive, allowing you to wirelessly backup all of the Macs on your local network. They come in 500GB ($299) and 1TB ($499) capacities. For what you get, these prices aren’t bad. In fact, it’s more than likely that I’ll be buying one of these… partially because I was planning on buying a new Airport Extreme anyway to replace my aging NetGear router that has become a little flakey.
Apple now offers 3 Airport base stations… Airport Express, Airport Extreme, and Time Capsule. If you’ve been considering buying one, but you’re not sure what the difference between them is, Apple’s broken it down on this comparison chart.
iTunes Movie Rentals
Not much to say about this. It is what it sounds like. You can now rent movies through iTunes. They cost $2.99 for library titles, $3.99 for new releases, and $4.99 for HD. Initial selections are a bit small (especially for HD), but all major studios are on board.
Apple TV Take 2
Well, Apple didn’t come out with an actual television like I predicted, but they did make some significant updates to their Apple TV set-top box. The biggest news is you no longer require a computer to use it for viewing iTunes store content. The Apple TV can now access the store directly. You can also access Podcasts, photos on .Mac and Flickr, and YouTube videos. Apple also lowered the price to $299 for the 40GB model and $329 for the 160GB model.
No New Displays?
The one thing that really stunned me this year was no new Cinema Displays. I would have bet money on this one. At very least I expected built-in iSights. After all, it’s been quite a while since they quietly stopped selling the stand-alone versions.
One interesting side-note about this is if you go to the Apple site, and click on the store, Displays aren’t even pictured. They’re listed under accessories. It’s as if they’ve become second class products.
We’re only a couple of days from the Macworld 2008 keynote so I thought it was about time to post my predictions. After all, what’s Macworld without predictions?
As we all know by now, the banners that went up over at Moscone Center read, “There’s something in the air”. Like most people, the first thing I asked myself when I saw this was, what’s in the air?
Now, this might sound kind of crazy, but the first thing that jumped into my mind was, “Spring is in the air” (ya, I know, it’s still Winter). And, what happens in spring… people get out and do things. In other words, they become more mobile. Follow me so far? I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but that banner could mean that this keynote will be all about mobility. I do have one other interpretation that I’ll cover later in the post.
Banner interpretations aside, here’s my predictions…
Ultra-portable Macbook (mini?)
Like everyone else, I’m pretty confident that Apple will be releasing a sub-notebook computer. Laptops account for most of Apple’s computer sales, and I think they’ll be doing everything they can to continue that trend. It’s also entirely possible that this new machine will have an optional docking station, suggested by the patent recently awarded to Apple.
Many people seem to think that this new Macbook Mini will be 13 inches wide, but ultra thin. I personally think that’s just too big. I’m betting that it will be somewhere between 8 and 10 inches wide. I would doubt it would be bigger unless Apple plans on discontinuing the Macbook.
Originally I wasn’t convinced that Apple would be doing anything to the Macbook. But, I was reading a prediction on another site (I can’t remember which one) that talked about the Macbook being incased in Aluminum. That actually makes total sense. After all, Apple seems to be purging white plastic from their lineup. The iMac recently went through this transformation, as did the iPod, iPod shuffle, and iPod nano. I think it’s entirely possible that Apple will apply this new look to the Macbook as well. I would also like to see them give the Macbook the new backlit LED displays, like the ones being used in the 15″ Macbook Pros, but I’m not sure if that will happen. Another point in favor of this prediction is aluminum cases are better on the environment than molded plastic, and Apple has been trying to become more environmentally responsible.
On a quick side note, I think it’s a bit ironic that Apple still uses the iconic white iPod in it’s advertising, even though Apple no longer sells a white iPod.
I think we’ll be seeing new Macbook Pros as well, mostly because the current design has been around for quite some time now. I think one of the biggest changes will be in the keyboard. Apple has made their Macbook and standalone keyboard use very similar keys and there’s no reason for them not to transition the Macbook Pro to this same style as well. I also think there’s an outside chance that Apple will introduce a new 20″ model.
iTunes Movie Rentals
I think most people are in agreement that this will happen. As with TV shows and movies for purchase it will be a handful of studios to start, adding more later.
Native iPhone applications! This is a no-brainer. Apple announced back in October that an iPhone / iPod Touch SDK (Software Development Kit) would be available in February 2008. I’m sure Steve will demo a few of the new apps created by 3rd party developers who were hand picked to get a preview release of the new SDK.
iPhone software update adding lots of new features, including access to the new iTunes movie rental service.
16GB iPhone. I personally think they’ve had 16GB iPhones sitting in boxes since the day they announced the price drop and elimination of the 4GB model. At the last minute they decided not to introduce the 16GB model, as they knew they would be crucified (more than they were) for putting out a new model just 2 months after product introduction.
No 3G. I don’t think Apple will introduce a 3G iPhone until later this year, at the earliest.
I think we’ll see a major upgrade to the Apple TV. Or, it may get dropped all together. My other interpretation of the banners hanging at Moscone relate to this, so I’ll address it later in this post. If the Apple TV does get upgraded, I’m not sure if it will reach a true DVR status, but it will definitely be able to interact directly with the iTunes store (and new rental service) without requiring a computer or iTunes (but it will still pull from those if available).
Not much to say about this. Mostly bug fixes and slight enhancements. But, I think it will finally allow Time Machine backups to Airport attached storage (probably with a software update for the Airport base station as well).
I don’t think they’ll be anything radically different, but they will incorporate a built-in iSight. I think it’s also possible that Apple will begin offering an option for the glossy display, since according to Steve Jobs, everybody loves those. I would like to see them get the new backlit LED technology, but everything I’ve heard says that’s still too expensive for larger screens.
One more thing…
So, I mentioned that I had another interpretation for, “There’s something in the air”. TV is in the air… as in the broadcast signal. My breakout prediction is that Apple drops the Apple TV in favor of, well… an Apple TV… I mean a real TV. The kind you watch.
Before you call me crazy, consider one thing… by February 17th, 2009 all US TV stations will cease to broadcast analog TV signals in favor of digital TV (DTV). 2008 and 2009 are going to be huge years for TV sales. Apple, along with most computer makers, have been tryng for years to get from your office into your living room. It makes a lot of sense for Apple to capitalize on this surge in TV sales to break into the market. The current version of the Apple TV was just a stepping stone… a way to test the market. Now they’re ready to bring out the real thing.
It goes without saying that the new Apple TV will have full access to the iTunes store, and its new movie rental service, in addition to broadcast television.
Think this sounds crazy? Netflix, the king of online DVD rentals, would disagree. They are basically trying to do the same thing. They’re in talks with TV manufactures to incorporate their movie on demand service directly into TVs.
Now, Apple could follow the Netflix model and try to get TV manufacturers to connect to iTunes, but we all know how Apple likes to control the hardware too, so I personally think it makes total sense for them to make their own TV.
Well, those are my predictions. We’ll see on Tuesday what really comes out. Unfortunately I have a meeting Tuesday morning, so won’t know until later that morning how close I was.