A Macworld Expo Preview: Expect Disappointment

January 2nd, 2007

Apple is already dropping tantalizing hints that “The first 30 years were just the beginning” at its site, which is certainly going to fuel heavy-duty anticipation for next week’s Macworld Expo keynote, and the things you hope Steve Jobs will announce.

Aside from that stock option matter, the feeding frenzy is in full bloom. Some folks feel Apple dodged the bullet with that nasty affair, while others insist that Steve Jobs may indeed have to face the music, and that kind of music will be from the authorities rather than from his iPod. But I’m neither financial analyst, or legal scholar, so I don’t pretend to know the legal ramifications of the stock backdating issue, and whether there’s any possibility Jobs will end up somehow liable for fines, arrest or whatever.

For the time being, though, I’m going to set that aside and look at products, or at least some of the products that Apple may or may not announce next week.

Yes, there is little doubt that you’ll see a demonstration of Mac OS X Leopard that expands on the feature-set. That’s a given. What you won’t see, however, is the actual release anytime soon. It won’t happen in January, although a March or April shipping date remains an outside possibility. There’s no mystery about that. It just strains logic.

What sort of new features? Some talk of a new Finder, a revised user interface and stuff that is way, way beyond what we can imagine. You will be amazed or at least highly impressed, I’m sure, and I have no clue what you should expect. So let’s leave it at there.

So where are the disappointments?

Well, the tech press is busy ranting about the alleged iPhone, which, now that we know another company is making a product with that name, is just called an Apple phone. Well, a few of us have dubbed it the iPod phone — and I have to say it probably came first on my tech radio show. This is, of course, in keeping with Apple’s nomenclature, if not terribly original. The real question is whether Apple truly wants to get involved in the mobile phone business.

Sure, there are problems with existing products. Interfaces are cluttered, cumbersome, and you get the feeling they some are bad Windows caricatures. That is, assuming you’re not talking about a so-called “smart” phone that actually uses a slimmed down Windows variant, of course.

You can understand why some would like to see Apple jump into this arena and show the mobile phone makers how it’s done. But this isn’t a young industry, as the MP3 player business was when the iPod first appeared. Hundreds of millions of those cell phones have been sold over the years.

But the marriage of music and telephony hasn’t worked out quite so well, so there may be room for an Apple alternative, assuming Apple decides this is a business it truly wants to enter.

Remember, Apple hasn’t admitted anything, so if there is no phone, would you sell your Apple stock, cast your Macs off to the garage in protest? Or would the reality sink in?

What about the alleged video iPod? How many iPod owners truly want to watch movies on a tiny screen, and would you find a larger version truly acceptable for extended viewing? Sure, people watch video content on mobile phones too, but how much and how often? Short clips, yes, and I see where Apple is apparently selling a decent amount of those hour-long TV episodes, although they end up being 44 minutes or so when commercials are dumped.

So if there was no immediate release of a large-screen iPod, would you feel left out? I mean, the Microsoft Zune is not the only digital media player with a larger screen than the iPod, and how many of those devices stand out?

On the other hand, there is plenty of room for Apple to innovate in these areas, so expect the unexpected.

Now when it comes to a new Mac, other than a Mac Pro with a pair of four-core processors, what else might you expect? Some are talking up a truly lightweight MacBook, with a 12-inch screen, weighing a tad over four pounds. Tiny, cute, but the smaller note-books tend not to be quite so affordable, so what would you be willing to sacrifice in order to cut the weight you have to lug around in your note-book case? I wonder.

Yet that intriguing message at Apple’s site makes me all the more curious Maybe you won’t be disappointed after all.

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6 Responses to “A Macworld Expo Preview: Expect Disappointment”

  1. Andrew says:

    What I really wonder about with all of the TV episodes on iTunes is whether or not people actually watch them on an iPod.

    Personally, I bought season passes to two shows and download them religiously, but I have yet to watch one on an iPod. I can’t even if I wanted to, as my iPod is a 6GB iPod Mini that lacks the hardware, but even with a new video model, the experience is still far better on a laptop or desktop computer, which is what I do.

    I wonder how many others are like me, watching the latest episode of whatever on their computer with its 12 to 24 inch screen instead of on a tiny iPod screen. I get better battery like to boot.

  2. mattalicious says:

    I’m 31, not some tween geek who knows how to program a Wii. That being said, I had NO plans to download TV shows from iTunes when it was announced, and yet, nearly $500 later, I can’t wait for Apple to add more shows. I watch approx. 85% of these shows on my video iPod, albeit, connected to my TV set. Why? I still use a tube TV (until next week, WOOT NATION, Sony 40″ LCD) and the shows look good enough. I’m watching shows I didn’t think i would like… I’ll then go nuts and download entire seasons. (Dog Bites Man, Desperate Housewives, Heroes, Dave Chapelle, Project Runway, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA). Not to mention, I can watch Monk with my parents at their house, or Weeds with my friends at their house, or catch up on Top Chef on the plane. Full screen video iPod? Bring it on.

  3. Jim Kidwell says:

    Personally, I’m a huge fan of the Mac OS X platform. While I use both Mac & Win at work, there are just some things that are easier to do on a Mac (pretty much anything publishing related). IMHO this remains one of the reasons that Apple stays on top. Yes, there is the juggernaut of the iPod that drives much of the company’s profits, but I still believe that the heart and soul is the OS.

    Well, as an aside, if you’re in the area and want to go to Macworld, my company is giving away free passes. Hop on over here for instructions


    Jim Kidwell
    Technical Product Specialist

  4. Hammer of Truth says:

    Let’s see now. If you look at the G5, the Mac mini and the ipod video, and OS X on intel, those were products that Apple never admitted existed but did. It’s a pretty good indicator that Apple does has something in the works when there are several well known analysts and other mucky mucks that have spilled some beans. While none of them are concrete they are said to have the same effect as people who have seen a ufo, crackpots.

    I am rather surprised that I would be reading a speculation piece on TMNO. Usually you write about more pertinent Apple related news.

  5. Maurice C. Barone says:

    I hear that desktop sales are down, What a shame! I suppose that includes iMacs. I’d love to see Apple announce something that would get desktop sales booming. Anything that would impress some of the businesses that don’t judge equipment merely by purchase price. And I really would like to see both a new Finder and a more advanced file system. But I hear those are not in the works for some time.

  6. Biffachu says:

    Yah what a dissapointment

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