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More Silliness About Apple

So I’m reading a story suggesting that, with dipping iPod sales, Apple needs to get a new digital music product going pronto. Evidently they are forgetting that the replacement products in question — the iPhone and iPod touch — are already in the hands of tens of millions of people around the world. And that includes countries where Apple doesn’t have a contract with a local wireless carrier for the iPhone.

Indeed, Apple executives were already reminding us, during their last quarterly conference with financial analysts, that the new gear would cannibalize sales from the old. That’s the way it should be, and, no, Microsoft’s Zune HD is going to get very few of those sales when it comes out.

Besides, when you click Home on your iPhone, you can’t miss the telltale iPod logo. But subtleties of this nature are sometimes too hard for some media pundits to comprehend.

There are several stories out now, from people who are supposedly running that alleged Golden Master build of Snow Leopard. Now just a point of order here. Beyond the walls of One Infinite Loop, only  registered developers and some book authors have legitimate access to Snow Leopard. To gain that access, they had to sign confidentiality agreements that, in essence, states that they can’t reveal any information not already disclosed by Apple until the product is released.

So the people who are writing about their Snow Leopard installations are either violating Apple’s NDA — in which case they are going to find themselves in a heap of trouble — or received copies from unauthorized sources.

Regardless, it’s a mite premature to start measuring performance and writing reviews. Besides, we won’t really know which Snow Leopard build got the final blessing until it’s actually released. It is possible that it’ll end up being the version that’s already being mentioned. It may also be possible that Apple found additional bugs they wanted to address before the DVD was sent off to the pressing plant, to avoid a rush towards 10.6.1.

Besides, it’s not as if the world ends if you had to wait another week or two to get your hands on a copy, or read a fully-authenticated and properly vetted review. At $29, Snow Leopard is an exceedingly modest purchase, so it’s not a major loss if you find you don’t like 10.6. And I do presume most everyone who plans to order a copy realizes it’ll only run on Intel-based Macs.

That fact should come as little surprise either, since the news had leaked long ago, and the feature set seemed to provide at best modest benefit to owners of PowerPC based hardware anyway. Indeed, there hasn’t been much complaining either, and Leopard will continue to be supported an updated for a while yet.

If the Snow Leopard system requirements mean anything, it’s that more and more publishers are taking the hint and ditching PowerPC support. But remember that people with personal computers that are several years old are far less inclined to buy app and system upgrades anyway, so there’s not a huge loss there.

The other news tidbit still being spread by the rumor sites involves the alleged Apple tablet computer. It may be out in September. Then again, maybe Apple will hold off until early in 2010. Or perhaps, to satisfy both camps, there will be one next month, and the product line will be enhanced a few months thereafter.

Or perhaps no such product will ever see the light of day.

Yes, I realize that some elements of the media are already talking about sightings of iTablet or iPad prototypes. Some more respected media analysts claim to have had face time with one, or knowing of someone who did.

Sure, it may well be that all of the speculation has its basis in fact, although timetables have to be pretty speculative. Remember that there was talk about an iPhone for several years before such a product actually came to be.

What is giving credence to the rumors, however, is the statement from some Apple executives that if they were to enter the netbook arena, and they aren’t saying they would, they have some insanely great ideas to deliver. It’s also true that when Apple begins to really put down a specific product segment, it’s almost a sure thing that they plan on answering the problems they describe with their own hardware at some near-future point in time.

This happened in the months ahead of the introduction of the Mac mini, for example. No, Apple wouldn’t build a cheap PC, but of course they did, and of course it isn’t quite as cheap as the other models.

So it’s perfectly possible that there will be an Apple tablet, perhaps based on the iPod touch, or a regular MacBook. Or perhaps both. It’s also possible that Apple is really planning to cut the prices on some more Macs for the coming holiday season, to really fuel sales.

Possible, yes. But possibilities aren’t always realities when it comes to Apple. If they were always predictable, where would the fun be?