The Practical Mac

'Twas the Night Before Macworld

- 2002.07.16 - Tip Jar

Since the introduction of the original iMac, speculation at every Macworld event has been that Apple would unveil a new flat-panel version of the iMac. At the last Macworld San Francisco, that prophesy was finally fulfilled.

This week's Macworld New York is the first gathering in four years where there is no consensus choice as to what Apple might have up their sleeve. While this race may not have a favorite, here are our predictions, along with some unsolicited advice!

The Future of the G3

Will Apple finally lay the G3 to rest? Yes, but probably not at this time. Until the G5 is introduced and the high-end products can be migrated to this new processor, the G3 must remain. Standardization on the G4 would not leave enough differentiation among the various product lines to justify the price differences.

The Low End (i)Macs

With the arrival of the flat-panel iMac, predictions of the demise of the venerable CRT iMac have been rampant. Perhaps it had something to do with Steve Jobs pronouncing the "death of the CRT" with much fanfare.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the CRT's demise turned out to be premature.

Although Steve caught some flak for backtracking on this statement, it was the right thing to do. Apple must keep a truly entry-level computer in its lineup. Even the $999 eMac is out of the range of some school districts. The only change Apple should make to the $799 iMac is to lower the price to $699. If Apple in turn offered this iMac to educational institutions at $599, they would still turn a profit and would probably have a hard time keeping up with what would surely be unprecedented demand.

iBook

The iBook got a makeover at the last Macworld, so don't look for any significant movement in this line. A speed bump is not out of the question. Although I don't look for it to happen, Apple needs to offer a $999 entry-level iBook. Using the G3/500 processor, a 10 GB hard drive, 128 MB of RAM, and a plain vanilla CD-ROM drive, they could do it.

But don't hold your breath.

eMac

With the ink not yet dry on the eMac promotional materials, don't expect any new developments on this front.

Power Mac G4

When the G5 is finally introduced, you can bet this is the place it will first appear. Is the future now? Or will we settle for a a move beyond 1 GHz?

Flat-Panel iMac

What more can be done to the most revolutionary computer on the planet? Oh yeah, 1 GHz!

Titanium PowerBook

The most likely candidate to be the subject of a major announcement. This year's closest thing to a sure bet is the introduction of a 1 GHz PowerBook G4.

OS X

Although Jaguar has been promised in "late summer," this would be prime time to announce the official release of the next upgrade to the OS (Mac OS X 10.2?) to the public.

Other Software

AppleWorks is overdue for a major upgrade, and perhaps iTunes as well. We may see incremental updates to some of the other "i" software titles - or maybe even a new addition to the family.

Miscellaneous

Although nothing obvious looms on the horizon, there is always the possibility of the surprise introduction of a new product, such as the iPod last year. Did I hear anyone mention the Newton II?

Conclusion

Unfortunately, I am not privy to any inside information regarding what may or may not happen at Macworld. I have made my "predictions" based on previous trends and extrapolation therefrom.

With Steve Jobs at the helm, you can be sure that there will be at least one or two surprises that will make us say "Wow" and serve as fuel for debate for several weeks.

Unlike our local weatherman, I will review my predictions next week and take credit or eat crow, as the case may be. Stay tuned! LEM

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Steve Watkins is the Vice President for Information Technology for a mid-sized bank, an attorney, and an Army Reserve JAG on extended active duty. He has been a Mac user for about 12 years. He has owned some PCs along the way - but always came back to the Mac. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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