Handicapping the 12th

by Chris Seibold Oct 11, 2005

There are people among us who, when the holiday season rolls around, simply have to know what is in the invitingly wrapped packages. These folks carefully remove the tape, peer inside, learn the nature of the gift and then replace the tape. Obviously this subterfuge leaves them with a bit of an acting job when the present is opened but the for the “early lookers” that is but a small sacrifice. For those folks the joy doesn’t come from taking possession of the item, rather the excitement is in the not knowing and it is a feeling they simply can’t bear. If you’re one of the people described above (and you know who you are) and a Mac fan this must be an excruciating time indeed. After all the “peekers” know something big is coming on Wednesday but there is no certainty as to what that “one more thing” is. Sadly the appointed Applematter’s staffer missed this week’s conference call with Steve Jobs so we’ve got no inside info to reveal. Yet all hope is not lost. We can always fall back to that old standard of inveterate gamblers everywhere and instead of making any prediction we can merely handicap the event. So what are the candidates for Wednesday’s big reveal? Let’s take a look:

The Rumor:Color Changing Macs/iPods
The Why:Years ago Apple filed a patent for a color changing enclosure. There are technical reasons why this is a good idea.
The Why Not:How likely is it that Steve Jobs assembles a slavering corps of media members only to reveal a product that, in all likelihood, would only serve to invite massive derision?
Odds: .05%

The Rumor:Madonna iPod nano…in pink
The Why:Apple enjoys celebrity iPods that feature artists long past their prime and this is another way to promote the nano.
The Why Not:At best this will be a side item and not the main event.
Odds: 75%…unfortunately

The Rumor:Airport Express AV
The Why:This seems like a natural extension of the Airport Express and could be aimed at the Tivo market. Correctly placed such a device could give Apple a presence in the living room.
The Why Not:How many people use their Airport Express to stream music in the first place? Plus the experience just isn’t that great for those that do. Taking an already marginally adopted product and updating it for video would not seem to be the stuff of an invite only media event.
Odds: 20%

The Rumor:Movie Downloads from iTunes
The Why:It is bound to happen sooner or later and no one has as much experience as Apple delivering DRM content over the internet. Plus Steve is intimately involved with the movie industry as CEO of Pixar. Fellow Movie Execs may be inclined to trust him because he will also be taking care of his own self-interests. Additionally the invitation did feature movie curtains.
The Why Not:It is doubtful that Steve can get every major studio to jump on board because of the success of the iTunes music store. Why use Apple or any middleman when you can sell your movies directly to the populace?
Odds: 33%

The Rumor:Various computer and iPod updates
The Why:There’s not much in Apple’s line up that couldn’t use a bit of an update. Where are the dual cores? Where the speed bumps for PowerBooks? And as far as iPods are concerned isn’t bigger always better? Additionally supplies were supposedly constrained recently.
The Why Not:Assembling a mass of note takers and telling them that your computers are now slightly faster is probably not the best way to make sure people show up the next time. It might happen but it won’t be “the show.”
Odds: 35%

The Rumor:Mac Tablet
The Why:Everyone, seemingly, offers a tablet computer except Apple.
The Why Not:Everyone, seemingly, offers a tablet computer except Apple but very few of them sell. If an OS X tablet shows up it is going to have to be a lot more compelling than current tablets.
Odds: 33%

The Rumor:Video iPod
The Why:It seems like a natural progression and could offer something new to buy off the iTunes store. Additionally it gives people a reason to buy iPod with ever increasing storage capacities and Steve can certainly spin the announcement in such a fashion as to make the media event seem worthwhile.
The Why Not:How many times has Steve said that the iPod wasn’t suited for video? About as many times as he dismissed a flash based iPod.
Odds: 80%

The Rumor:Black Pentium Powered Mac Laptop
The Why:Releasing a Pentium machine this far ahead of schedule would probably be great for sales and there were rumors of a carbon fiber laptop enclosure a few years ago.
The Why Not:Revealing something like this at a invite only media soiree kid of goes against Steve’s whole pitch that the transition not being a very big deal.
Odds: 10%


  • Nice analysis, Chris. I want to throw one more rumor into the ring from out of left field a bit. Problem is, I’ve forgotten it!

    And what about software? Cell for iWork?

    This presentation will take one of two courses:
    1) One big announcement only
    2) Several small teaser announcements before the “One more thing…” line.

    Given the proliferation of upgrade rumors, the latter appears more likely but I still feel the big one could be something unexpected. Maybe this time Apple let out a few rumors to satiate the rumor sites (and generate some free publicity) and temper their inquisitiveness.

    On the other hand, would one big announcement clash with the other announcements fighting for media space?

    I think the curtains indicate a new product (which the iPod video would qualify as).

    Whatever the big one is though, I think the key is it will be available for the Christmas buying spree.

    Ah! Finally I remembered! A game console.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 11, 2005 Posts: 1209
  • Please, who are those poor folks suffering under their AirPort Exress? Line up & send me your APX stations, I love them little buggers, already have two & room for more. It’s an excellent product, even better if you have a WLAN capable Palm or a spare notebook to abuse as a remote. And enhancing it for video does make sense in combination with a video service, since you do have to transfer all that video to your TV from your Mac, don’t you?

    Anyway, I love the wait for Apple events though I would never ever unpack a gift before its time. Therefore I also love all the feeverish rumors, but I despise it if sites really blow the surprise.

    Tomorrow, tomorrow!

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Oct 11, 2005 Posts: 371
  • With dual core processors now due from IBM (G5) and Freescale (G4) it would be a nice time to move the PMs and PBs to dual core.  Keeps sales going until Mactels are released is the “Why” and it’s hard to find a “Why Not”  Odds for me are 60%.

    Shrinking the iPod is another potential - and I’m not worried about video.  With the new HDs out the iPod can come close to the old mini (which might be why they discontinued the old mini).  Why?  Adds juice to the iPod sales, lots of people love the mini and because they can.  Why Not?  Apple might need the extra room for future enhancements.  Odds for me:  75%

    MacKen had this to say on Oct 11, 2005 Posts: 88
  • I’m with Bad Beaver. Who are these people having problems with their Airport Expresses. Mine’s functioned perfectly* since I got it the week they were introduced. Video capability is not something I’m in a big hurry for though.

    7448 PowerBooks! It’s TIME!

    *Twice in two years the connection dropped while streaming (local) music files. The problem was subsequently traced to the Airport card in the laptop, not the AEx.

    Socket Scientist had this to say on Oct 11, 2005 Posts: 1
  • I am sure Airport Express runs fine as a small router and stuff but some folks think it still falls short. In fact everyone I know who has one likes it for the ‘net but avoids it for music (all three have pod-a-majjigies for that). I know my personal experience isn’t really relevant. What we need is an opinion from a well respected Mac user who knows a lot about iTunes and such. A recognized expert… Hey, No problem!

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Oct 11, 2005 Posts: 354
  • What about a video ipod/game console to go head-to-head with the PSP? THAT would be cool.

    The most likely, I think, is the usual product updates—speed increases, etc. yawn.

    diggs had this to say on Oct 11, 2005 Posts: 6
  • here’s a fun theory…

    1) steve has said that nobody wants an ipod-sized video player cause it’s too small

    2) using the itunes music store to sell music videos, video podcasts and later, movies seems inevitable

    3) the ROKR itunes phone is lame

    what if the new video ipod isn’t just a video ipod, but is basically the rumored iphone….an audio/video/cellphone combo? now you have a device which can make phone calls, sync to your address book, calendar, & itunes - plus it can play music videos, video podcasts, and later…full length tv content.

    such a device wouldn’t cannibalize sales of regular ipods, since the addition of a phone would make it a very different product. it would also get apple into mobile video and after the lukewarm intro of the motorola ROKR, steve could stand up and say, “nobody has managed to integrate audio, video and communications technology into 1 device….until now.”

    i’d buy one.

    david randall had this to say on Oct 11, 2005 Posts: 10
  • eh?  Why isn’t an apple brand pda on that list? Is it so far outside the chanced of probablility?

    faintdreams had this to say on Oct 11, 2005 Posts: 8
  • All anyone has to do is look at the invite for the iPod Nano and the invite for this event.  Red movie theater curtians….

    bdkennedy1 had this to say on Oct 11, 2005 Posts: 5
  • I do not agree with ANYONE saying the video iPod is a good idea.  I personally would love to load it up with videos and watch them in the airport or somewhere else when I’m bored.  Or take them to a friends house for a party and hook it up to the TV.

    bdkennedy1 had this to say on Oct 11, 2005 Posts: 5
  • Since lately I was forced to see what KIND of video GROWN MAN & WOMEN will put on their cellphones and happily display to everyone interested after just one or two pints I would say that video capable small devices of ALL KIND should be BANNED. Just as a hint.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Oct 12, 2005 Posts: 371
  • Regarding the APX again, I think it should be re-evaluated. Of course it has its limitations, but it does just what it is advertised to do. Any first-run problem (such as the lost signal problem with slow DACs) was solved via firmware update. My take on the reason why you cannot broadcast different content to several receivers simultaneously is that this would produce bandwith and thereby performance issues.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Oct 12, 2005 Posts: 371
  • Remeber this is the year of HD. I’ve not seen too many consumer products that incorporate HD yet. But, I’ve also been downloading HD quicktime movies from apple’s web site. Too bad the two highest quality screens sizes are too big for my powerbook. I’d love to see a new powerbook with HiDef screen capabable of watching HD movies and content. I’d also like to see a set top box to integrate all my music and movies with my tv. Something on the lines of Sonos, but Mac. The anticipation is burning a hole in my wallet.

    _nova_ had this to say on Oct 12, 2005 Posts: 1
  • The given Powerbook would have to feature a very nice graphics card to make up for the G4 if you want 1080p.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Oct 12, 2005 Posts: 371
  • Personally, I wasn’t aware that “the experience isn’t that great” for people that stream iTunes wirelessly through their Airport Express.  As one who does just that, I can say that it’s been nothing short of revolutionary to be able to add that technology to my home.  What basis do you have for that opinion?  I’m just curious.

    superfurry had this to say on Oct 12, 2005 Posts: 1
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