Update: Wow, was I ever wrong about this one. Predictions are marked for accuracy below, thoughts are over here, this one is long enough already.
Below are my predictions and hopes for MWSF 2007.
[Wrong] Not happening. This whole subject can very credibly be called a case of mass hysteria. While there is no doubt Apple is more than technically and creatively capable of creating a dream phone, there are just too many externally limiting factors for this product to succeed. Apple does not have the political resources to overcome the barriers currently in place.
Consider what a miserable experience it is to get cell service for one or two people, imagine what would be required to secure hassle-free access for millions of customers. Especially when you’re entering in to the agreement with a pitch like, “We need to use your network for our new phone. You don’t get to brand the connection or and you’ll have no input on service plans. Your phones are horrible and we’re about to make them look worse. And no, you can’t sell our phone because your customer service model sucks. We’re also working with your largest competitors so don’t screw us or we’ll cut you loose before you can say Zune.”
Besides the need to rise above the customer-hostile cellular phone marketspace, Apple would also likely be looking to leverage their other technologies, especially wifi [wrong]. Domestic cellular carriers are threatened by DIY ringtones, wifi internet phones are the beginning of the end of their entire industry.
Additionally, Apple doesn’t appear to have a presence at CES. Not that they need it, but it would seem that a phone would benefit from getting seen in person and CES is significantly larger than MacWorld with a lot more media. However the iTV would also seem to be a CES product, though the buzz on this seems to be strangely muted.
The outlier is an unlocked phone [wrong]. In the US, no one has really done this, but if Apple was to succeed with an unlocked phone it could dramatically reshape the US cellular phone space. Personally, I don’t think the risk level is something Apple wants to wade into.
Considering the buzz on this, Apple’s stock is going to get hammered if there’s no phone, despite record laptop sales in Q4 2006 [sort of inversely right?].
I’m feeling about 90% certain these people are going to look silly. Unless I’m the one looking silly — as I run gleefully to the Apple Store to buy my new phone. [wrong, but I have until June to run there]
[Wrong] Even though the Mac Pro is barely four months old, Intel’s quad-core chips are here and are pin-compatible with the dual-core chips currently in use. Switching to the new chips requires Apple do little more than print new stickers for the boxes. Eight cores should be shipping by February.
The pending release of Adobe’s CS3 (see below) makes me feel confident about this one. [wrong]
We’ll get a release date for 10.5, I’m guessing sometime around March 1. [wrong]
The “Top Secret” features will be demonstrated. Developers will likely get a new seed with those features included. [wrong]
If ZFS is mentioned at all, it will likely be nothing more than a bullet point. A handful of people will cheer as if they just found religion.
Some iChat or wireless feature will be demonstrated with Phil Schiller. This is a lock. Everyone loves Phil Schiller. [right! x2]
I was wrong about this at WWDC, but I think it’ll happen this time.
Either Adobe will demo CS3 on Intel during the Keynote or Quark will be invited onstage to show off XPress
[Nope, still wrong] Now, with the public Photoshop CS3 beta, I think there’s a very good chance Adobe will be onstage for a demo, showing CS2 on a G5 vs CS3 on one of the new 8-core Mac Pros. The Mac Pros will be, of course, silly-fast. Possibly a release date, probably April. Not much applause since everyone wants it yesterday. (I hope I’m wrong on this, Photoshop CS3 is very polished and very fast, we need inDesign.)
Airport and 802.11n
[Right: New Airport] [wrong, not a complete refresh] A complete refresh for the Airport product line bringing it up to 802.11n. Who doesn’t want more dependable wireless that’s 10 to 50 times faster? Apple’s been shipping 802.11n compatible hardware for a few months already and any potential success of the iTV thing will depend on better wireless internet. I wonder how they’ll handle upgrades for soldered on wireless like first-gen MacBook Pros?
The new Airports will be tightly integrated with iTV and may include a more direct gateway to the iTunes store. [wrong]
The lack of a widely adopted HD disc format is hampering the transition to HD. A wedding videographer has to either invest in both authoring systems at huge cost or choose one; their customers would be risking locking their memories into what could be an obsolete format. The cost of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD drives is still stupid-expensive, but I could see Apple pushing to get some HD disc players and burners into their hardware. Unless they’re just going to give up on the HD format wars altogether and push iTunes as the real HD successor to the DVD. It’s probably too early for that, more home connections need to be upgraded, or at least have the option of upgrading, before that can happen. Besides, people still want to be able to share their own movies. [wrong]
Expect some sort of HD option in iTunes because of iTV. [astonishingly wrong]
iTV (or whatever it’ll be called)
I’m confused as to why people aren’t talking about this more. Maybe, like me, it just doesn’t seem that exciting. Expect 802.11n networking [right]. Since everything Apple sells online is pumped through Akamai, the speculation about an integrated BitTorrent client seems silly (even ignoring the movie studio aneurysms) [right].
[Wrong] I’m not expecting any new applications, though we’ll probably see a move toward the iTunes interface styling for the whole suite. Maybe AVCHD support for iMovie (and everything else via Quicktime), but that might be dreaming. I just want movies to share like photos and play in iPhoto slideshows. I like the idea of using iPhoto as a visual memory manager for your whole life.
[Wrong] The addition of a spreadsheet application makes sense for iWork. Hopefully Apple will rethink that category in the same way they approached Pages and produce something which focuses on producing great looking charts and graphs. Think Secret’s iWork screenshot is sort of hilarious, partly because it’s so ridiculously simple, and partly because that’s what the application could very well look like. However, while everything could be handled through floating palettes, that screenshot just seems to plain to be functional.
Hardcore number crunchers won’t be leaving Excel, but some sort of network data integration along with a well-defined scripting interface could open up some interesting possibilities for working with tabular data in new ways.
[Wrong] If the opening of the keynote contains a lot of charts and graphs, then this product is a lock. After introducing iWork 07, Steve will point out that all charts in his presentation were created with the new tools. This is a good thing since the 3d charts in iWork 06 are usually ineffective at communicating data and horrible looking.
[Wrong] Something has to be done about .Mac. The only reason I renewed this year was because I use the account for iChat and sharing household calendars and didn’t have time to transition those features to other services and options. At very least, .Mac should include a full QuickTime Pro license. Well over a third of all bad email addresses from Joe’s Filters users are mac.com addresses; people who were using .Mac and quit.
[Wrong] Probably new displays with integrated iSight cameras. There is the outside chance that the pixel density could be increased in anticipation of Leopard’s resolution independence.
[Wrong] There is still a ton of demand for a small laptop to replace the 12″ PowerBook. Apple must know about this. I can’t see Apple releasing a computer without a DVD drive because the psychology of it becomes too cumbersome. So that probably tosses out the sub-notebook form factor. However, there’s quite a bit of air inside a MacBook Pro and using the smaller iPod sized hard drive might be a possibility.
[Right!] No tablets. Too small a market and they’re just not that fun to use.
Panic’s Steven Frank shares a strategy for evaluating Apple related rumors:
Does the rumor contain the phrase “stripped-down version of Mac OS X”? If so, the rumor is almost certainly false.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow.