MWSF 2009

This post is going to be a bit shorter than previous years. There’s really not that much to say here. I’ve been following MacWorld for the past decade or so, even before coverage was very good (now pretty much everything is live). Overall I’d rate this one a 5.

Phil Schiller

Phil did a decent job filling in for Jobs. It did sound slightly like the script was either written for Jobs, or he was trying to sound like Jobs. I’m not sure which. Overall he did pretty good. He’s not Steve Jobs, and expecting him to live up to that is not practical. He did better than most executives do at these events. It was obvious he worked with people who assist Jobs, and likely even got input from Jobs.

Software

A lot of software was released: iLife ’09, iWorks ’09. A few things impressed me, most of it was really not that remarkable. The camera stabilization stuff in iMovie will be welcomed by many, assuming it performs as well as it’s demoed. They didn’t say how well it will do with sub-SD (below standard definition) cameras like cell phones which are becoming increasingly popular. Facial detection in iPhoto is also pretty cool. The precision editor is also something that many people will be happy to see. I never saw GarageBand as more than an novelty app, so I’m not to wowed by the changes.

I’m not sure what to think of this Mac Box Set. The price is decent, but I think almost anyone who is interested in upgrading iLife and iWorks already has Mac OS X 10.5. Those that don’t either don’t care about the latest and greatest features (that’s most of them), or can’t because they use something else that doesn’t work with 10.5. Regardless, I’m not sure how many will really appreciate Mac OS X 10.5 being in the bundle.

17″ MacBook Pro

The 17″ MacBook Pro was obvious since it was a glaring omission last time Apple released the new MacBooks. I’m curious to see the dissection pictures that someone will post over the next few days to see that battery up close. While not “removable” I hope it’s “serviceable” so that you can buy a 3rd party battery online and install it yourself if you don’t want spend so much money and time having Apple do it. Don’t let 1,000 charges fool you. 1,000 charges is actually pretty good, many laptop batteries don’t fair to well at that amount.

The $50 anti-glare option is totally worth it. It’s a shame they don’t offer that on the other models. I think it would be a popular upgrade. I’m not a fan of the glossy displays as I find the matte displays much easier on the eyes.

iTunes

DRM free finally. That’s not a free upgrade though, it will cost you $0.30 per song. No word what percentage of that Apple gets, and what percentage goes to the record labels.

Pricing is now tiered to $0.69, $0.99, and $1.29. Lastly you can now download music over the 3G network on the iPhone. You can also download over EDGE, but that’s unadvertised. I presume the 10MB limit doesn’t apply to purchased music as it does to podcasts and apps, but I’m not sure.

Missing iPhone Firmware Update

Apple promised push messaging would launch in September 2008. Now January 2009 and there’s no word on a completion date. I previously suspected Apple would at least comment on this delay in hopes of keeping customers and developers from getting to go nuts. Push messaging was being seeded to select developers in the summer. It was originally in the iPhone OS 2.1 beta update but pulled before it went final. It’s allegedly still in the works. John Grubber notes that there haven’t been betas of 2.3, which suggests that the next version will be iPhone OS 3.0. That could still be months away. This could get interesting.

MacRumorsLive.com Hack

It was obvious they got hacked ASAP. It was also pretty obvious that it was some folks at 4chan pretty quickly.

Overall

Lots of software, predictable hardware. This was an evolutionary keynote rather than a revolutionary one. There’s a lot of stuff Apple is overdue to update including the Mac Mini which is painfully outdated, Apple TV, iPhone OS among other things. There’s also Snow Leopard which hasn’t been shown off to much yet.

It wasn’t the keynote itself that was a bore, it was the product lineup wasn’t that of previous years. It’s not to say they are bad products, but that they aren’t revolutionary must-have products.

MWSF 2009 Predictions

I play this game every year. I’m having some trouble with predictions this year since Apple has been somewhat scatterbrained lately. Regardless, here’s my list for MacWorld 2009:

  • The usual pep-rally – iPhone App Store is a success, lots of iTunes music download, iPod touch sales strong, Mac sales solid. Users happy. (Probability: 100%)
  • iTunes DRM Free Content – More DRM Free Music. Much less likely is video. (Probability: 85%).
  • 17″ Unibody MacBook Pro – It’s missing from the lineup. (Probability: 85%).
  • iPhone OS 2.3 – Despite a lack of rumors on the iPhone OS 2.3 unlike previous versions which were more publicity tested I still think we will see an announcement on this front. Apple promised push notification back in September. It’s way overdue. If it’s not ready to ship today, I expect Apple will at least give a preview and a date. I also suspect at least one other headliner feature. I’m hoping for Copy&Paste. (Probability: 80%).
  • Steve Jobs Health – It’s the elephant in the room. I suspect whomever holds the keynote will mention it. Assuming Steve Jobs himself doesn’t mention it either by video conf. or in person. (Probability: 80%).
  • Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Preview – Apple will give us another taste of what’s to come. I also expect to see a release timeline at least down to a quarter, if not an exact date. My guess is it won’t go GM until at least WWDC. Demo is very possible. (Probability: 75%).
  • Revamped Mac Mini – The Mac Mini is overdue for a makeover. The case has been the same since 2005. The internals are getting old. I see a modest speed bump, a refreshed design and NVIDIA chipset. (Probability: 70%).
  • Updated iMac – The iMac is about a year old at this point and also still offers an ATI graphics chip in some models. I see that disappearing and NVIDIA taking over. This is in preparation for Snow Leopard who will want more GPU. (Probability: 68%).
  • iPhone Nano – I know 2 manufacturers claim to be making cases for it. I still suspect it won’t happen, at least with the iPhone OS we all know. I figure this because it will be hard to use the OS on a screen smaller than the iPhone. That said, Apple may be working on a slimmer cell phone focused more as a music player than an application platform. Think iPod + Phone. Rather than iPhone. (Probability: 51%).
  • Updated Apple TV – Mixed feelings on this. Until Apple has a vision for it, I’m not sure they will keep dumping R&D time into this product. (Probability: 50%).
  • Random Price Drops – Throughout the keynote, expect prices on low end of each product line to drop compared to current pricing. New slimmed down products to tickle the fancy of those in conservation mode due to the economy. (Probability: 85%).
  • iTouch Tablet – I think it will happen eventually, but I don’t expect an announcement soon. I think earliest is 3Q 2009 (TechCrunch suggests the same). More likely at some point in 2010. I think it will replace the MacBook Air and be a slim tablet style notebook borrowing heavily from the Air. I don’t think Apple has the cost-saving chops to produce an oversized iPod touch at a price consumers would go for. (Probability for MWSF: 20%).

There you have it. Those are my guesses. Now lets see what happens.

There’s Something In The Air

Apple’s hoisting up those really vague yet meaningful signs in preparation for the big announcements this week. According to AppleInsider they are putting signs up that read:

There’s something in the air

Sounds like a wireless announcement is the headliner. But that can mean many things:

  • Updated iPhone (3G expected this year)
  • New iPhone services (video rentals perhaps?)
  • Apple TV upgrade (with wireless video rentals)
  • Yet another new device?

It’s going to be a great week. I love this stuff.