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Macworld rumor round-up

So Macworld is right around the corner. What might we expect to see making a debut?

Mac OS X 10.5 ‘Leopard’

I don’t see Mac OS X 10.5 shipping at the Macworld show, but it’s a good bet that we’ll see an extended preview:

“The likelihood that we’ll see Mac OS X v10.5 (Leopard) released at Macworld only gets a 3 [out of 10].”

Also, I have to wonder if we’re going to see something based around the much-rumoured ‘Illuminous’ UI:

“Apple Gazette has received a tip from an apple insider that the Mac OS Aqua User Interface will be replaced with a new UI named Illuminous.

The source goes on to say that we will see a demonstration of Illuminous at Macworld 2007.”

We might have been given a hint of this from the current Apple home page, which features a darkly lit Apple logo. From behind, an eery glow illuminates the logo on a black background.

We know how Apple likes to tease, and tease they do with efforts that often have a visual clue to their meaning encrypted in the teaser graphic itself.

Apple iPhone

Well, not the iPhone anymore, ‘coz that name’s gone!

Here’s some of my previous thoughts on the subject of the Apple mobile phone [1] [2]

However subject to change the name might be, I’m sure the name isn’t as variable as the mechanics within the proposed Apple mobile phone itself:

“Apple is trying to hit a home run on its first try with a cell phone, and its ambition is causing a delay. The company has a conundrum.

The iPhone will have to be both the “Apple” of Steve’s eye – can you imagine how many engineering changes must have been made in 2006? – and a commercial success, because Apple hates losing money on anything. It also hates shipping products that people don’t swoon over.”

But it’s more complex than that:

“There are too many uncontrolled variables: carrier technology, calling plans, area coverage, 1 and 2-year contracts, compatibility between carriers, rapidly-changing functionality like camera and music, IP-based telephony, and seamless synchronization between handset, computer, and software (and probably many more). Imagine having to work with monopoly-hungry companies like the telecoms while trying to beat them at the same time! Apple’s “it just works” ideal is a hard fit here.”

What we do know is that Apple has a penchant for controlling the horizontal and the vertical. So being expected to juggle 15 balls of various shapes & sizes, while having one hand tied behind their back is not conducive to their aforementioned desire.

However, it’s not like Apple isn’t familiar with negotiating their way through the perilous, nay, Byzantine labyrinth of bureaucratic red tape, legalize and overlapping international copyright.

They’ve already done this with the music industry. So maybe this will be like Apple getting their second wind? Who knows.

What we might see is the device itself previewed, if not a specific date for a green light launch.

iTV and the full-screen iPod

I’ve pulled the iTV and the full-screen iPod under the same heading because their very success both hinge on the same issue – that of securing content:

“There is great confusion but also great ambition in the video entertainment industry thanks to all the new methods of delivery. The Hollywood studios have carefully studied where the music industry went wrong, and they’re learning fast. The industry as a whole is working together, and Apple isn’t exactly on their Christmas card list.

All factions in the entertainment industry, the content providers and the carriers, are scurrying to make sure that Apple doesn’t dominate the movie business the way it did the music business. So far, Apple hasn’t made any headway, and it’s only the company’s coziness with Robert Iger at Disney that has allowed Apple to make it’s first foray into selling movies.

I suspect it has been this massive effort by all concerned – the studios, networks and set-top box manufacturers – to make sure their customers have wide choices, along with workable DRM, that has allowed them all to prosper in this new century. That could well be the reason behind the endless delay of the so-called “true-video” iPod with a full 100 mm (diagonal) screen.

Apple can’t invest a lot of effort in a portable video platform until they’ve secured broad agreements for content, and those agreements seem to be hard to come by lately.”

Let’s not forget: content is king, after all.

There is no home for a home media product like the iTV without the content to push through it. And if that is indeed the log jam, then Apple – like anyone else – have to secure these agreements in advance.

However, I have to contest the statement: “So far, Apple hasn’t made any headway,…” because if that was the case, how come Apple is enjoying somewhat of a purple patch with the video offerings they have on the iTunes Store?

From what I can see, there’s plenty of video in there, and more seems to be going in on a weekly basis. But it’s clear that more depth to their video content is required, and an internationalized offering wouldn’t go amiss, either.

The Mac Tablet PC

From what I’ve read recently, the Mac Tablet PC might not see the light of day, despite my earlier ruminations on the subject [1] [2] [3]

“[Steve Jobs] said, tablet computers were not a big enough market for Apple to spend its limited resources chasing. And even if the market grew, it would not reach a size to be of interest. The form factor was all wrong. Apple was more interested in defining markets than trying to catch other companies that were busy trying to create a market for questionable products.

The wireless bandwidth for huge images, plus the security needed … was just not on the horizon. Plus, tablets’ screen resolution was nowhere near that required for [one of their key customers in the medical industry, NIH, who had pressed Apple on the issue of a Mac Tablet.]”

So there you have it! From the horses mouth, so to speak.

As sexy an idea as the Mac Tablet is, it’s not looking good. And ironically, this retelling of a discussion with Steve Jobs (if real) is actually quite comforting to me in the sense that here is evidence that Apple isn’t just chasing sexy ideas and putting style before substance.

Or to continue with the equine theme, Apple isn’t putting the cart before the horse…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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