I am a third party software Macintosh platform developer who has followed the company closely for ... well, pretty much since its inception in the late 1970s.
That being said: I have taken out my crystal ball and tried to look at what might be announced next week.
Note: this is only for next week's announcements. Some of the unlikely to be announced stuff will be announced in the future after MacWorld.
You'll notice some extraneous marks. The Plusses, Minuses, and occasional Zeroes are how much I believe that these announcements will actually occur. (Likely, unlikely, and no real opinion... respectively)
I think that this Year is going to be Services and Mac Hardware heavy. I think that the world of software and iPod/iPhone will take a back burner. The iPod and iPhone will pick up anything that is heavy hitting in the world of services.
So... On those back burner topics:
Classic - no change
Nano - no change
Shuffle - new version
0+ Touch - New firmware 1.1.3
0 16 gig
- Preannounce iPhone2 (unlikely)...
0+ Firmware upgrade 1.1.3
- Talk about the SDK
- iPhone mini?
With the upcoming services, I'm certain we'll see a bump in iTunes. Will it be 7.5.1/7.6/8.0... Hard to tell. You have to remember, version numbers really no longer belong to the developers. It's a marketing toy now. Depending on how big the services are under the hood will give you an idea how much they want to advance the number.
+iTunes: New Version
iTunes/New service extension integration
Mac OS X 10.5.2
No news beyond software sales
Services is where the stuff that iTunes, AppleTV, IPod, .Mac, etc can do. So it's not really software.
+ Movie rentals - This has leaked so much I think Apple is gonna call a plumber
- NBC coming back - This would be a pleasant surprise, but CEO's tend to play as nicely as toddlers in a sandbox.
+ New tiered pricing - Highly likely to get the movie companies back on board.
+ new features
0 Beatles (Exclusive on iTunes at first) - The Beatles has been the "Holy Grail" of the digital music download world. And we know Steve wants 'em. We know that Steve also has a MOUND of cash. We heard Paul say last year that it was pretty much a done deal and would probably show in 2008. It'd make sense that Steve tried to line up an initial exclusive deal. Expect Beatles-tie-in iPod products.
- iLife anywhere. The concept of having your library follow you by way of .Mac. There's been a lot leading up to this but I think that it had to be pushed out due to iTouch development. This little gem will probably live in 10.6 (Ocelot? Liger? Prussian Blue?)
+ .Mac overhaul. 10.5 got entrenched fairly quickly despite the initial install issues. Expect the roll out of these new features with a new Leopard smelling .Mac experience
The biggest complaint I heard last year among colleagues at MacWorld was, (Imitate Clara Pellar the Wendy's Woman) "WHERE'S THE MAC?"
Many models have languished, the mini is losing ground, the AppleTV was referred to by Steve himself as 'a hobby.'
XServe - Maybe a speed bump. (This is more likely to be pushed at NAB)
Speedbump added on 080108
MacBook, MacBookPro - Maybe a speedbump. Expect more at WWDC
iMac - Speedbump
The form factor is a throw back to the piping hot G5 which needed a LOT of cooling. The Intel chips are running cooler and it's really time to examine the box. The iMac got its facelift, the books got theirs... It's the tower's turn. Expect HD-DVD/Blu-Ray (whichever side Apple thinks is winning) as a Build to order choice on the high end.
Speedbump occurred on 080108
Which of course leads to:
Monitors - Yes, iSights built into the monitors. Expect a shift in the monitor model sizes. 20, 23, 30 may give way to 23, 30, and something bigger.
So what's left.
There are two things worth looking at:
Let's face it. These are the same box with some minor config differences. I see these two products merging into something along the lines of the AppleTV Pro.
+A full OSX installation with robust Front Row which will have DVD.
+Probably HD DVD/Blu-Ray as above.
+Purchase thru AppleTV skipping iTunes. All new services included from above
tivo style recording (Deal with Dish/DirecTV)
The last two are sort of my sweet spot dream. The biggest issue with the AppleTV has been a lack of actually being able to add something that isn't Apple centric supplied. Apple isn't know for it's cooperation with other companies. But... it's known that DirecTV has a hate-hate relationship with Tivo. This could be a biiiig win for them to drop right into the livingroom. A tivo like functionallity would probably kill the full OS X side of things due to certain paranoid protection issues. (probably the same thing locking up part of the iTouch)
2) People want a smaller mac and people want a cheaper mac. I see Apple doing at least one thing.
MacBookMini - a 10-13" macBook with flash drive.
But that isn't really exciting. There's a 13" book. So why make a 10" book. Well, simpler system, more directed for certain functions. Great price point. Price point that makes Dell freak and still gets hammered for being too high.
But I see one more thing...
Last year... the beauty of the iPhone wasn't what was introduced.. but how it was introduced.
3 products: a phone, mobile computer, and an internet device. This was the iPhone.
People are clambering for the following things: a Tablet, a Sub-notebook, and a handheld.
I think Apple will introduce the MacMicroBook. A device with a 6-8" touch screen. It has a stylus and a full installation of Mac OS X Leopard. It has a cell sized querty keyboard though it has an integrated touch keyboard as well. Full blue-tooth, full wifi. Full handwriting recognition. Programmable touch interface. And of course, slides into all the iServices.
This thing will be like the great grandspawn of the SideKick. And it's going to sell just as well as the iPhone.
So.. that's my world of fantasy... Come back in 2 weeks. We'll see how I did.