Macworld 2007 preview

With Steve Jobs’ MWSF keynote address fast approaching the grapevine has reached a fever pitch and is bursting at the seams with a whole spectrum of speculation and rumors about what will be announced at this year’s event.

Here is, in short order, a list of the most credible rumors about tomorrow’s announcements and a short analysis of the more controversial items:

  • “iPhone”….this one needs little explanation, and has been detailed in many articles on Rumors over the past three years or so. The real questions are what its real name will be, whether or not it will really be introduced at MWSF (there is more doubt & debate about this than the grapevine may seem to indicate lately!), and whether the device will be a true Mac OS Embedded type device, or simply a cellular phone with a suite of Apple-style applications and an iPod-like interface.
  • iTV is a shoo-in, and as with the iPhone, the real debate has been over what its final product name will be. We will also learn more about its specifications and price. This will clearly be a linchpin of the day’s announcements and much of what we hear from other vendors will be based on the opportunities that the iTV creates…..much like the massive iPod accessory market.
  • Next-generation iPod: This one is where the really big questions begin. Would introducing iTV, iPhone and a next-generation, widescreen/full-surface-display-with-onscreen-control iPod all at once make good marketing sense? Many in the grapevine seem to think not, and are predicting that the “6G widescreen iPod” will wait about six weeks after MWSF; enough time for Apple’s marketing geeks to assess the market’s reaction to the two new iDevices and make adjustments to the new flagship iPod to suit. As far as MOSR’s take: we are cautiously optimistic that tomorrow will be a truly action-packed day and that we may very well see the 6G iPod next to its cellular and set-top cousins….but no guarantees. This is one rumor that has been particularly hard to pin down in terms of timing; though we are quite sure about the specifications and the fact that this device is imminent either way.
  • iLife ’07: Software will be a big part of MWSF either way, with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard a big part of the show…..but some rumormongers seem to feel that iLife will not be updated here at MWSF this year but will rather be ‘held back’ to coincide with the launch of Leopard this Spring. We are inclined to concur.
  • Leopard: This one’s fairly obvious. Apple will be previewing OS X 10.5 and at long last filling the community in on many details that have thus far been fodder for the grapevine. A new developer release of Leopard will follow, including many of the features which have been kept out of existing builds for “security reasons” to date.
  • Airport Extreme X2/X4: New Airport Extreme X2/X4 base stations and other hardware will be introduced. Many existing Intel Macs already have IEEE 802.11-capable hardware and will be able to take advantage of the faster base stations right away. Possibly an updated Airport Express to be introduced as part of the Keynote….though at this point we’ve already got so many hardware products on the slate that some Airport devices may be “announced” in the next couple of weeks rather than at MWSF itself.
  • New Displays: Along with iTV, Apple has been working on a slew of new high quality displays that will enable Macs and the new family of Apple iDevices to share stunning screen real estate in the “Mac Home” all at a surprisingly competitive set of price points. As many as five new display models have been discussed on the grapevine ranging from 17 to 50+ inches. Not all are 16:10…..

That just about wraps up the key expectations for tomorrow’s Keynote Address. A handful of other rumored events which have reasonably high likelihood ratings by our sources were not mentioned above for brevity and sanity…..but notably include the eight-core Mac Pro (which will probably be announced later this month along with other changes to the Pro desktop outlined in a recent MOSR article) and a new standalone iSight.

Stay tuned for our live coverage beginning tomorrow afternoon and continuing throughout Expo week!

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