What to Expect from MacWorld 2008

by Chris Howard Jan 09, 2008

It’s that time of the year when we Mac commentators put what’s left of our reputations on the line and tell you what to expect from MacWorld San Francisco (MWSF). Looking at last year, my reputation is pretty low, having predicted we wouldn’t see an iPhone at MWSF07.

What I did get right, though, in my article last year was the “significance” distribution of announcements. There hasn’t been a MacWorld San Francisco this millennium where Steve hasn’t announced something major. The “huge” announcements, on the other hand, come every other year, and the utterly revolutionary every six years, those being OS X in 2000 and the iPhone in 2007. So don’t expect anything in the league of the iPhone. But I’m happy to be wrong.

MacWorld is very much consumer oriented and rarely sees MacPro announcements, although MacBook Pro announcements, however, occur reasonably regularly. That may be because they have a greater consumer appeal than MacPros. I note that Apple—to reinforce my point I’m sure —has just announced updates to the MacPro and XServe lines.

So we can at least expect a major announcement in the consumer realm. But what? Life just hasn’t been the same since the demise of Think Secret. Apple has done a good job of stemming the flow of legitimate rumors. The rumor mill doesn’t have the same coherence. But possibilities are still being bandied around, although with no great confidence.

Minor announcements I expect you’ll see are:
- iPhone sales news and some gloating
- 16GB iPhone
- iPhone SDK with a demo of a third party app (free bragging rights to whoever can predict the developer and the app)
- Microsoft MBU giving a Mac Office presentation
- Some mention of the Mac’s increasing market share
- Movie rentals
- Leopard sales figures and some gloating
- A dig at Vista
- Demo of Bento
- The Beatles on iTMS

And one right out of left field (that I don’t think you will see): some sort of partnership with Nintendo.

But—depending on your perspective—these all fall in the medium/minor category. So what will be the big one?

MWSF’s have always given us some major hardware announcement and usually a significant software announcement.

Sadly, I can’t see where Apple can pull a significant software announcement from unless it debuts a totally new application. One slim possibility (especially given Adobe’s neglect of Photoshop Elements, which is now two versions behind the Windows version) would be an image editing app; however, I’d expect that to be aligned with an iWork or iLife upgrade—which of course can’t happen until closer to 2009 because it would look silly releasing iLife ‘09 in the second week of 2008. An upgrade to iMovie ‘08 could also appear with more missing features returned. But after that the crystal ball gets very hazy.

Unfortunately, no software to buy provides a bit of a letdown, as that is usually the one thing most of us can buy straight away and therefore make us feel like there was something for us at MWSF.

On the hardware side though, a few possibilities emerge:
- AppleTV 2: A major update, greatly enhanced with DVD drive but not Blu-ray (too costly).
- MacBook Lite: I’m not convinced people want an ultra portable device that doesn’t fit in their pocket, unless it’s a tablet device. Some rumors say this device could sport a large multi-touch touchpad.
- Mac nano: The replacement of the Mac mini with more support for use as a media device, possibly even a merger with the AppleTV.
- Blu-ray option on MacBook Pro and MacPro.
- Touch interface on high-end MacBook Pros.
- New Cinema displays with touch interface.

Any sort of touch interface on the Mac might require a major update to Leopard (if it’s not already built in)—and this could easily be the missing “top secret” feature. Bear in mind 10.5.2 is in the wings. Consider too that the iPhone uses OS X, so adding the touch system to Leopard would be a doddle.

Looking over that list, all are quite possible. So now I’ve got to stick my neck out…MacBook Touch in tablet form with touch interface, Cinema displays with touch interface, Apple TV 2.

And my “one more thing”: I’ll go with the Beatles on iTMS.


  • why is everyone so obsessed with touch iMac and the like… I work on my Mac 8+ hours a day, an I for one sure as hell don’t want to be waving my arms over my monitor for all that time… what works great on a hand held isn’t always a great idea for a whopping great monitor - no matter how “kewl” it looked in Minority Report

    Serenak had this to say on Jan 09, 2008 Posts: 26
  • No, Steve is going to announce a “small-ass table”. Microsoft will weep…

    SirROM had this to say on Jan 09, 2008 Posts: 3
  • I lugged a MacBook in a backpak 3 weeks across Oz last summer.  The laptop weight what 5.66 lbs?  It felt like the decimal point would shift to the right every hour of walking.  I could absolutely use a lightweight laptop where I can leave behind the external opti and HDD and just rely on the SSD when I travel.  And no lilliputian form factors please.  That would make the thing useless.

    And yes this multi-touch screen fixation is beyond me.  A multi-touch pad on the keyboard surface works but on a vertical screen?  You’re talking Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

    tundraboy had this to say on Jan 09, 2008 Posts: 132
  • Nice guesses. You leave out HD iTunes movies… which I suspect would max out at 720p 4.5Mbps (current AppleTV limits).

    I wonder whether the AppleTV v1 would be obsoleted by the AppleTV v2?  I’d like to continue to see a low end AppleTV, at a VERY CHEAP price point, perhaps dropping the hard disk entirely and allowing playback on 4:3 TVs. That said, this year’s technology has taken a leap (as usual) so I wonder what they’ve come up with. Also, with the US switching off Analog TV in the next year, the DVR possibilities on a higher end system are interesting.

    As for touch screens, I think Apple will be the first to put them in as standard. But the mouse will still be required!! A touch screen can mimic the mouse, but I think it’s more likely to be used for flicking through cover-art, moving photos around, zooming in and out, etc (much like MS Surface) - while the mouse is used for day to day usage (menus, for instance, are much better with mice than fingers!).
    ...oh, and carpal tunnel is likely to be worse with mice than with touch screens. Touch screens would get tiring, and be slow for people if used exclusively.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Jan 09, 2008 Posts: 228
  • First time I am posting on MAC site, I bought my iPhone recently. My guess among other things Apple will release -
    NOTEBOOK ‘TOUCH’ (not touch screen) but with complete touch only ‘keyboard’. Features like
      1. No physical keys (exceptions)
      2. Power button
      3. Home key (will display keyboard touch)
      4. The touch keys will ‘raise/separate’ a bit,
        feel,sound a bit similar to normal
        physical keys while appear highlighted
        diplaying letters or numbers or charecters
        as necessary.
      5. There will be more sophestication than I can
        imagine here to the key board.
      6. Obviously therefore there will be ‘no mouse’
      7. Of course will be very thin.
      8. NAND memory for storage.
      9. Other minor things like Aluminum etc
    10. High potential using it for new breed of
        ‘touch’ games (though this may come later).

    JimC had this to say on Jan 09, 2008 Posts: 2
  • why is everyone so obsessed with touch iMac…
    my question is: why is everyone obsessed with beatle’s content on iTMS?

    nana had this to say on Jan 09, 2008 Posts: 63
  • My prediction:  Whatever it is that Jobs announces, Mac fanatics will run out and stand in long lines to buy it.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 09, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Cool name, “Notebook Touch”. That seems likely.

    I have envisioned the “iJesture”. Reading patents, looking at rumours, watching what Apple bought into. And dreaming a little.
    Everyone shall soon see the truth though soon enough.

    Art Lebedev + iPod Touch + FingerWorks = iJesture

    The device that bridges post-pc machines to the mac desktop. In a form factor that is reminiscent of the CommodoreVic20 days when a complete solution lived inside a keyboard yet slim enough to suit todays styling. The device measuring 13” wide by 4” deep at 1/4” thick.

    A rectangle slate that is easily carried under ones arm.
    A device that when brought in front of a Desktop terminal it’s own WIFI triggers it’s glossy screen to transform into a fully functional virtual keyboard. Yet unlike the average keyboard your Desktop actually displays a mount drive. 32 Gb drive syncing the sub-notebook slate “iJesture” to your desktop machine. No docking device needed.

    Virtual keyboards have millions of benefits. Language, colour, more functionality through programmability. Swipe at the number pad and it vanishes leaving you space to finger point. it’s the new track pad, functioning perfecting as any mouse could. There is accuracy due to the same principle of todays laptops. Gesture again and the number pad re-appears just like iPhone graphics do. Dazzling! You can motion the virtual keypad to the left for left handed people. And iJesture specific programs - say FinalCut, can enable colour system keys to better relate or add functionality not easily understood before.

    Multi-touch, therefore comes to all of use as a familiar UE (User Experience / User Ergonomic) form and usable multi-device.
    “iJesture” says goodbye to the keyboard, the mouse and docking stations. But wait, there more to it, it functions on it’s own in a familiar iPodTouch fashion. This little device isn’t a simple virtual keyboard, no, the fun doesn’t stop there. It is a sub-notebook; kind of a MacSlate. With a certain scaled down and embedded version of OSX 10.5.2 as the core brain. 

    When you pick this device up and walk away with it—it’s screen again transforms into a sub-notebook like device. Independent from your Desktop. Running specific apps that Apple is about to unleash. Th “iJesture” sports two usb ports, one physical button on the side, just like the wireless keyboard of present. On the bottom, a mini optical disk. Specific to the device and for upgrading and installing sweet applications for on the go. One extra bit of information, would be the update to INK. Ink2 useful for diagrams and character gesture input. So there you have it, the Newton notation is back in style.

    The iPhone has it’s main purpose. The iJesture has it’s.
    It is the device that launches Multi-Touch for the rest of us!
    Where ever we go.


    My little spin is this.

    Dougless had this to say on Jan 09, 2008 Posts: 4
  • d - your vision of ‘iJesture’ looks very impressive to me. Now I am starting to understand for the first time what it means to get sucked into Steve sponsored expectations game.
    If it can be so exciting(wrecking - in fact I couldn’t sleep well yesterday thinking about what may be coming) for a consumer like me who got into it just a couple of months ago via iPhone, how nervous should it be for compititors like RIM, DELL, Verizon, Microsoft?

    JimC had this to say on Jan 10, 2008 Posts: 2
  • And iJesture specific programs - say FinalCut, can enable colour system keys to better relate or add functionality not easily understood before.

    There are a number of situations in which touch keypads would be useful, but editing isn’t one of them.  A keyboard without tactile feedback is basically useless.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 10, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • So i’m thinking i shouldn’t go out today and buy my MacBook as planned and wait until Tuesday?!!?

    Does anyone have ideas on what level of pricing would be expected for, if released, a new macbook?



    adele0louise had this to say on Jan 11, 2008 Posts: 1
  • definitely wait, adele0louise.

    Price point isn’t likely to change much, but the feature set could.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jan 11, 2008 Posts: 1209
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