The Definitive Matrix of Macworld ‘08 Predictions and Rumors

by Aayush Arya Jan 10, 2008

After Chris, I guess it is now my turn to stick out my neck and throw out a list of Macworld ‘08 predictions. Be aware that what you’re now going to read is a carefully researched article which takes into account various statistics from past keynotes and seeks to identify recurring patterns between them so as to accurately predict what lies ahead. It is methodical and scientific, makes no wayward assumptions and is, therefore, citable in all courts of law as proven fact. Warning: Spoilers abound!

So, without further ado, I present to you my simple 4x4 matrix of what I think lies ahead and the descriptions for each square. You might be reading this and mulling over things for quite a while so it might be a good idea to cancel all appointments scheduled for later today and grab yourself a cup of coffee (or whatever floats your boat, really). Presenting the article that will put an end to all the suspense associated with the Macworld Expo next week (last chance to back out is now):


Click on the image to view a slightly larger version.

Mark my words, you’re going to see these happen.

New MacBooks: It’s a given. Steve Jobs is going to launch completely revamped new MacBooks at this Expo. The current MacBooks stick like sore thumbs in Apple’s line-up, with their scratch and crack prone fiber enclosures and combo drives from the ancient era. The new ones will be clad in anodized aluminum (the same metal that almost all the products in current line-up are made out of) and will have some black highlights. The screen size will remain the same, a SuperDrive will become standard across all models and it will feature a minor bump in some of the hardware components. It will, of course, look absolutely stunning and the starting price will remain the same. Steve Jobs will unveil a new advertisement or two.

iTunes Store updates: There is so much proof of this particular point that I’m sure it is a permanent feature on every single Macworld prediction list this year. You’d have to have been walking around with a blindfold and avoiding all contact with the Mac universe to have not seen this one coming. I’ve already checked its square in my Ars Technica Bingo card for Macworld ‘08.

Steve Jobs will announce that every major movie studio except NBC/Universal has agreed to sell and rent their movies through the iTunes Store. Not only that, as the result of an agreement between Apple and the movie studios, all physical DVDs of movies will from then on ship with an iTunes, iPod, iPhone and Apple TV compatible digital DRM-ed file that will automatically be imported into the customer’s iTunes library when he uses the DVD with his computer for the first time. Only one computer per DVD. This announcement will be followed by five minutes of showering praises upon themselves for taking care of the customer and being an innovative company. He’ll promise us that we’ll soon see true high definition movies available on the iTunes store. At the end of the day, Apple will clearly be on the road to world dominion and someone will run out of furniture to ruin in his plush office in Redmond.

He’ll also announce that all the major record labels except Universal have agreed to sell their entire catalogues DRM free on the iTunes Store. iTunes Plus will be abolished and the entire iTunes Store will be DRM free. He’ll tout it as an industry first, even though it isn’t. Most of these changes will not be effective immediately but Jobs will specify the launch dates during the keynote and will announce the immediate availability of iTunes v7.6.

Mac OS X update: He’ll spend a good ten minutes praising Leopard and showing off its fantastic success in the market, compare it to Vista and will make some very funny pre-written snide remarks about it. A lot of statistics will follow. Record sales numbers, unimaginably fast adoption rate of Macs and 50% of customers new to the Mac. Standard stuff, you know. Then he’ll show us a new “Get a Mac” commercial. Finally coming to the point, he’ll remark that Apple is constantly looking to improve its products and they are therefore releasing a huge update to Mac OS X Leopard that will be free for all existing users of the operating system. He’ll pause for a moment to let this sink in and to hear the thunderous clapping.

BOOM!: OK, I’m not even going to try to predict this one. I know that no matter how many permutations and combinations I try, how obsessively I follow every single rumor and leak on the Internet, how refined my divination skills are, there will always be one product or some features of a product from this list of predictions that will, to borrow a phrase from El Jobso himself, “blow me away”. It’s amazing what the Apple engineers can come up with when handed a couple of advanced sensor thingies and a shiny enclosure to put all the product of their hard work and labor into. The one thing I can assure you is that there will be thunderous applause after every word Jobs utters when he is describing this holy grail of technology products. All the attendees will be worshipping him when he’s showing off a live demo. Wait and watch.

These have a high possibility of being in attendance too.

Ultraportable or tablet: This might turn out to be untrue but all sorts of rumors these days are pointing towards the possible launch of one of these products. If it’s a tablet, it won’t have handwriting recognition. Either product will be way too expensive compared to the other products in the market that belong to the same category (but, of course, the high quality will deserve the price tag). Jobs will make it sound like it’s cheaper than footwear and all the people in the conference hall and under the influence of RDF will believe him like its second nature.

Blu-ray: I am expecting some sort of announcement that centers around Blu-ray and its integration with one or more of Apple’s products. He may not have a product ready to be sold right off the bat, but he’ll probably announce that the format wars are coming to a close and Blu-ray is the winner and that Apple knew it would be right from the beginning. A Blu-ray drive option for the Mac Pro will probably be made immediately available and MacBook Pros tricked out with Blu-ray drives will be in the pipeline (he won’t announce that, of course).

Flash and Multi-touch: Both will make an appearance at this Expo’s keynote, in some form or the other (not counting the iPhone, of course). Steve Jobs will explain how successful Multi-touch has been and will declare it to be the next paradigm in user interfaces. “We want to bring it to even more of our products.” He’ll also explain how Flash is much better than hard drives and will mention the flash based iPods and the iPhone. A mention of much better battery life will also be thrown in there somewhere.

iPhone SDK and updates: Steve will probably assure us that the SDK is coming along well and is on schedule (which itself is still, and will remain, sketchy). He’ll demo a third party application or two. Then, with a great flourish and much gloating, he’ll launch into some more numbers of the iPhone’s success and sky-high customer satisfaction ratings. He’ll say that it has been well received in all the countries it has seen so far and will mention (very briefly) their plans to bring it to Asia. Amidst great drama, he’ll unveil the 1.1.3 firmware update which will have all the features of the leaked version and then some. Demo time.

I’m not too sure about these though.

MacBook Pro updates: It might be upgraded quietly during Macworld but definitely won’t get any keynote time. Even if it isn’t updated during Macworld, I expect an update to follow shortly in a month or two.

New Cinema Displays: Though technically it should be updated soon now, I have a gut feeling that it won’t. The poor soul of the forgotten display is crying out to me and I can just faintly hear its moaning among all this other noise. Fear not, dear Cinema Display. Papa Steve will take you out of your misery soon, just not at the Macworld Expo this year.

New Apple TV: Jobs will announce that a free firmware update for the Apple TV will soon be available for download that will bring the iTunes Store directly to the Apple TV, eliminating the need to use your computer for purchasing content. I don’t see a hardware revision coming our way on Tuesday though.

“One more thing…”: This used to be a staple of Steve Jobs keynotes until a few years ago but has now gone the way of the Dodo. I hope and pray that Jobs bring that little keynote slide back for 2008 but I don’t expect it to show up.

No matter what the world says, this just aint happenin’, pal.

New iPhone: When was the last time Apple launched the second generation of a product within merely six months of its initial release? Never, that’s when. Those of you who are stalling their iPhone purchase hoping to grab v2.0 on 15 January 2008, please wake me up when all the waiting pays off… a year from now.

Laptop docking station: This is the most ridiculous patent application I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I come home from a trip around the world and instead of connecting my notebook to a display, I insert it into a honking huge one that has a slot for the notebook on its side. Just goes to show that people will believe anything you feed them as long as it gives them some fodder to speculate over and pass the time.

Headless Mac: You may not know but I have it from reliable sources deep within the super secret underground laboratories in Apple’s Texan campus (disguised to pose as a mental care facility) that Steve Jobs hates games and the devices which enable them. He thinks they are an absolute waste of valuable time. The only reason the iPod has games is that Fred Anderson inked a deal with Electronic Arts and paid them the money behind the Steve Jobs’ back. You now know why the poor guy got involved in all that stocks backdating mess. Suffice it to say that it was no coincidence!

So what lesson have we learnt? You don’t know? OK, please repeat after me, “Apple will never release a mid-range headless Mac under the leadership of Steve Jobs. Ever.” Got it? Good.

The Beatles: Let me get it out of the way, The Beatles are not coming to iTunes. Not at this Macworld Expo; not at the next one; and never in the future either. Sorry! Now, what I don’t understand is why does everyone want them to? Doesn’t every person, who wants to, already have the entire Beatles catalogue stashed away in several cupboards in his basement? What’s this big need to purchase them from the iTunes Store anyway?

Miscellaneous stuff: Along with all the accurate predictions listed above, we’ll see a few of the following things happen during the keynote. Steve Jobs will say “Boom!” every now and then, keep referring to himself as “we” and will keep asking you his favorite rhetorical question, “Wouldn’t it be great if…?” or “Wouldn’t it be cool…?” He’ll never once mention ThinkSecret’s demise (like anyone expects him to!). There will be two pre-rehearsed and well placed jokes that will make the attendees practically roll around in mirth. He’ll make at least one mistake during the two hour keynote and will ad lib his way out of the situation. Someone in the crowd will yell “Bingo!” towards the end of the keynote!

So there you have it - to the point and short - just the way you guys prefer it. Feel free to make us aware of what you are thinking using the comment strings below. All praise will be filed by God’s messenger who constantly looks out for my well-being and you’ll be rewarded in your next life. Any and all flames will be patiently borne and I will smile to myself and forgive the offenders, gentle soul that I am. Signing off…



  • “Almost everything that Apple could possibly introduce has been thoroughly rumored and speculated about on the Internet.”

    The thing about surprises, is that they are usually surprising grin

    Seriously though, there are several things I haven’t seen speculated on that Apple could do (though I consider them unlikely!!).

    - In addition to the iPhone SDK, Apple could make the iPhone-OSX an official “OSX - lite” and put it onto the old and new AppleTVs and Airport base station
    - Apple could create a home iServer - either building on the MacMini or simply expanding the Airport base station. From this, your laptop could sync a smaller subset of songs/photos/movies (or your iPod could sync, or AppleTV could sync, etc). The iServer becomes your digital hub, instead of your computer (thus enabling much smaller hard disks and solid state ram on “peripheral-computers”)
    - Apple could create an “eBook” replacement (the Newton with a keyboard). A low powered low-cost clam-shell device aimed at young teenagers ... basically an iPhone + keyboard + iWork, and syncing back to your computer or iServer wirelessly (and over the internet). Also remote terminal to your home computer?
    - iWork for Windows?
    - Bento for iPhone?
    - Home automation?

    Just trying to push outside the square a small amount…. and not going too far really.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Jan 12, 2008 Posts: 228
  • “What could they possibly do short of giving the songs away for free?  I wouldn’t imagine they’ll sell them for less and they can only match Amazon in taking out the encryption.  What else is there?”

    Given the choice between buying DRM free songs at $0.99 apiece from the iTunes Store and variable prices at the Amazon MP3 Store, most people would choose to go with iTunes, IMHO. They don’t need to do anything extra. smile

    Aayush Arya had this to say on Jan 12, 2008 Posts: 36
  • That “Something in the Air” is interesting, Beeb. Does it refer to wireless?

    I like the not so subtle dig at the rumorists. Something in the air is an allusion that something is going on - and isn’t that what the rumorists are all about, that is, speculating about what might be “in the air”.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jan 12, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • Given the choice between buying DRM free songs at $0.99 apiece from the iTunes Store and variable prices at the Amazon MP3 Store, most people would choose to go with iTunes,

    Amazon’s songs are cheaper and un-encrypted.  If you choose to buy a song that is more expensive and laden with DRM, then you’re an idiot.  And I don’t think people are that dumb.

    That’s why Amazon is such a game-changer right-now.  There’s nothing they can really do at this point to “blow them out of the water” beyond making the songs the same price and taking out the encryption.  Not exactly a spectacular “wow them” strategy. It’s just Apple playing catch-up.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 12, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • They don’t need to do anything extra.

    I forgot to add that Amazon automatically adds songs to your iTunes Library.  No need to do anything extra.  Why, again, would you choose to buy a song from the iTMS…ever?!

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 12, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • like the not so subtle dig at the rumorists. Something in the air is an allusion that something is going on

    I think it’s something wireless.  But I ain’t a rocket surgeon.  It could be the new iFart for all I know.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 12, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Love the Matrix. Well done - as if Jobs did it himself.

    According to the number of chips Intel has set for Apple, the complete line of Apple computers can be UPDATED as of January MacWorld.

    So in one easy sweep, iMac, MacBook, MacBookPro and MacMini could in fact be handled in very few words. I think it would be wiser in a economical sense aiding Apple to slowly do this through out the year. Nonetheless, the laptop sector is extremely important. And the MacBookPro deserves the show! If not, a sub-notebook will be in it’s place.

    My feeling after seeing the banners, is WiMax is the big deal. It places a heavy commitment that iPhone is extremely serious and that possibly a FOUR way partnership - Google, Intel, Apple and AT&T;will let us see this SOMETHING in the Air. But this also needs to ride along with SDK. A mention that it’s NOW and AVAILABLE - it was promised and the time is RIGHT.

    On a personal level, “iJesture” or a product like it - maybe similar perhaps to the image in your Matrix would be the glorious show stopper. If only it bridges Desktops with the ablity to enable Multi-Touch for the rest of us. Whenever, whatever, however the sub-notebook is shown - there will be thunder heard.

    Perhaps not possible, yet to a degree, some tiny little hint - I can imagine Jobs touching on all these topics in some way or other. Even if to dismiss them as not true. It’s going to be a extremely interesting year for Apple. And MacWorld that won’t disappoint. Even if none of these come true. Apple most certainly has something to drop on all of us—and it will go BOOM. This is the shock and awe year for Apple - no doubt!

    Like hmmmmm, Boom!  Apple just BOUGHT Microsoft.

    Or hmmmmm, maybe… just maybe…Bill and Jobs have settled… OS10.5 was secretly commisioned by MacroSloth and Visita “bling” is OSX 10.5…. here’s how to do it guys… just press….

    BLAH BLAH BLAH… and low and behold… OSX was always there. Hahahahaha Apple OSX has been on the PC for sometime now. Enjoy the rest of the show… and welcome to OSX. Or maybe not.

    Oh, I can’t wait another nano-second

    Dougless had this to say on Jan 12, 2008 Posts: 4
  • Multi-touch for the rest of us…
    I personally like the idea. Add touch to all the laptops (during a broad refresh this week) and to new Apple cinema displays.

    The only thing left out is the iMac (I’m assuming it’s impossible that iMacs have the technology built in but disabled)

    btw: I’m not saying replace the mouse with touch. Just that in some instances touch is useful, and we would certainly discover (slowly over time) new ways of doing what we do.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Jan 12, 2008 Posts: 228
  • “Amazon’s songs are cheaper and un-encrypted.  If you choose to buy a song that is more expensive and laden with DRM, then you’re an idiot.  And I don’t think people are that dumb.”

    We’ll see about that but I suspect Amazon won’t make a huge dent near term in the iTunes music store. You have to think of your market, people who buy songs from the internet aren’t looking for the DRM free stuff (otherwise they’d be downloading it peer to peer) they’re just looking for something easy.

    The iTunes store will be most folks first choice for the forseeable future when they want to buy music online. And online music sales still trail physical music purchases but both are dwarfed by peer to peer.

    If you’re buying music from the iTunes store you’re doing because it is easy and, as of now, buying music from Amazon isn’t nearly as hassle free. You gotta download something, the search isn’t as good, etc.

    Don’t get me wrong, when I shop for music Amazon is a legit choice but I don’t know anyone else who uses Amazon or music purchases.

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Jan 13, 2008 Posts: 354
  • Boom:

    Paul McCartney will be guest of honour and reveal he’s an Apple fan…!

    Pragmarc had this to say on Jan 13, 2008 Posts: 1
  • “Amazon’s songs are cheaper and un-encrypted.  If you choose to buy a song that is more expensive and laden with DRM, then you’re an idiot.  And I don’t think people are that dumb.”

    I think you misread my quote a little. I said that if Apple sold “DRM free songs at $0.99 apiece” at the iTunes Store, then most people would choose to go with it. If, and only if, they were as “un-encrypted” as the songs on Amazon. Not all songs on Amazon are cheaper than they are on iTunes, by the way.

    “Love the Matrix. Well done - as if Jobs did it himself.”

    Thank you! Thank you! Your appreciation is humbling, sir. smile

    “Oh, I can’t wait another nano-second”

    Gotta love your enthusiasm. Join the club. :p

    Aayush Arya had this to say on Jan 13, 2008 Posts: 36
  • I said that if Apple sold ”DRM free songs at $0.99 apiece” at the iTunes Store, then most people would choose to go with it.

    What I’m waiting for you to explain is what Apple is going to do to BLOW THE DOORS off of Amazon, as you claimed earlier.  Matching Amazon’s price and DRM policy isn’t exactly blowing the doors off, it’s playing catch-up.  It’s like saying the Zune is blowing the doors off of the iPod by copying features and selling at the same price.

    Not all songs on Amazon are cheaper than they are on iTunes, by the way.

    EVERY song on Amazon is either cheaper or the same price.  Most are cheaper at 89 cents and some of the new songs are 99 cents.  You are never going to go wrong on Amazon since the song will either be the same or less.  And guaranteed un-encrypted to boot.  Plus, Amazon adds your purchase right to your iTunes library.

    And I have to wonder if you took such an issue with the “confusing variable pricing” when iTunes was selling songs from 99 cents to $1.29, sometimes for the SAME song!

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 13, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against the Amazon MP3 Store and I love the fact that it will drive Jobs to be more competitive.

    What I meant by saying that Amazon will completely be blown off is that if they started selling DRM-free songs at $0.99, hardly anyone would purchase from Amazon. Nothing beats the iTunes Store in terms of interface design.

    Searching for “what goes around comes around justin timberlake” reveals nothing on the Amazon Store. The reason? It is wrongly tagged as “What Goes Around Come Around”. Yes, just an “S” is missing and that’s why it does not show up in the results. For the sake of comparison, if you search for “esca enrique” on the iTunes Store, it shows you all the songs of the album “Escape” as the top results, sorted by popularity.

    The URL for Amazon’s MP3 Store is not That in itself is counter-intuitive and reduces the chances of word of mouth promotion.

    The iTunes Store has very detailed information about each and every album and song, dedicated and neatly designed pages for artists, a very good “Browse” view, lots of categories and “best of” lists and what not.

    Most people prefer to shop at the iTunes Store even though it is more expensive and laden with DRM. My humble opinion is that if they do get all the four record labels onboard to sell DRM free songs via iTunes at the existing terms and conditions, Amazon will be “blown out of the water”. They don’t need to do much else because they already have a far better infrastructure in place. smile

    “I have to wonder if you took such an issue with the “confusing variable pricing” when iTunes was selling songs from 99 cents to $1.29, sometimes for the SAME song!”

    First of all, I don’t mind the variable prices of the songs on the Amazon MP3 Store (they are pretty consistent). What I do mind is the fact that almost every album has a different price on the Amazon MP3 Store. It is ridiculous, almost as if they have vegetables on sale.

    And no, I did not take an issue with that because they were giving DRM free songs at higher bit rates. Same song, yes - but with better quality and the freedom to play it on as many devices as you want. Of course, Amazon came along and they had to reduce prices (that’s why it is good) but I’m not against the idea of charging a little more when you launch a new service that you know people are going to take a liking to. It just makes good business sense. smile

    Aayush Arya had this to say on Jan 14, 2008 Posts: 36
  • I’m not against the idea of charging a little more when you launch a new service that you know people are going to take a liking to.

    You mean as long as it’s Apple.  Because you JUST said in a statement above that it would be BAD business for Amazon do charge even the same for a song, let alone MORE.  That’s a blatant contradiction. 

    In fact, all you’ve done is spin everything in Apple’s favor even though Amazon is a superior service in virtually every way.  You’ve unsurprisingly picked out the most vague standards and used that to give the crown to iTMS even though Amazon wins on price, selection, quality, and lack of encryption.  Now we’re supposed to believe that “search” is the real (and only) determination of which is better?  Gimme a break.

    It’s not even fair to call your argument a double-standard.  It’s one standard - Apple’s way is ALWAYS better, even if they charge more for the exact same product and even if it’s encrypted.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 14, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • I’m sorry but you’re just deliberately misinterpreting me.

    I would just like to make a few points clear and be done with it:

    1. At present, the Amazon MP3 Store is better than the iTunes Store. No doubt about that at all.

    2. If, and only if, Apple gets all the major record labels on the iTunes Store and completely remove the presence of DRM from the iTunes Store, then it will become better than Amazon. Amazon would still win on price, yes but they would both be the same on selection and lack of encryption and the iTunes Store would have better quality and a much better user experience in its favor. I know which one I would choose.

    You’re constantly mixing my two separate statements to prove your point. The iTunes Store is not better than Amazon MP3 Store right now and I’ve never been ambiguous about this. But as soon as they strike off DRM, they come on a more or less similar footing and the Apple solution has a much better changes of gaining mass acceptance.

    I also didn’t say that it would be bad business for Amazon to charge the same for a song. I said that if the only difference between shopping at Amazon and Apple was that Amazon was $0.10 cheaper per song for most of the songs, the public would choose Apple because of the other factors in their favor. It has nothing to do with bad business practice on Amazon’s part; it’s just that Apple has a better experience to offer.

    You are, of course, free to believe whatever you want to but I am not advocating the iTunes Store and even if I did, I wouldn’t so it just because it was Apple’s. smile

    Aayush Arya had this to say on Jan 14, 2008 Posts: 36
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