Apple’s Macworld Conference is a month away and already the rumours are swirling: A tablet PC? An improved iPhone? The Beatles catalogue on iTunes? DigitalJournal.com discusses what you can expect from Apple in 2008.
Digital Journal — When one of the world’s most innovative tech companies is scheduled to release products in an annual conference, expect gadget fiends to endlessly speculate what will hit store shelves.
Apple’s Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco in January is no different, and various rumours are making their rounds this month.
First, will Apple release a skinny MacBook boasting a 13-inch screen and optional flash memory? Many respected news sources and industry pundits believe so; it’s the kind of release in-line with Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ commitment to upgrading its PC division. AppleInsider is also reporting an unidentified MacBook model has been seen on Apple campus, describing the colour as "gunmetal."
The main caveat for this compact notebook is its supposed cost of $1,500, pricier than the average U.S. notebook. Consumers might be wary at first, but a sub-notebook (under five pounds) from Apple will attract attention no matter the cost.
Also, flash memory is still expensive so if Apple can push the industry in this direction the price will eventually come down and the consumer wins.
Speaking of PCs, Apple is looking at the tablet market (like what Dell and Toshiba have done recently). Where Apple could outperform competitors, is the possible integration between a tablet PC and other devices like its iPhone. Imagine connecting wirelessly between a tablet and an iPhone to shuttle music or movies to either device.
The tablet PC market is destined to skyrocket in the coming years (or so we have been promised every year this century), so taking advantage of this unrecognized segment could work to Apple’s advantage.
Turning to another wireless winner: Apple’s iPhone will likely get some love at Macworld. It’s expected that Jobs will release a beefed-up iPhone with faster 3G data services.
Other iPhone improvements could centre on third-party applications (a la Facebook) where developers create games or instant-messaging apps for new versions of the iPhone.
Even more pressing is the issue of an iPhone lineup: will Apple do to its phone what it did to its iPod, and usher in smaller or “nano-ized” versions of the iPhone? If Jobs makes that announcement at Macworld, expect the excitable headlines to trumpet a new era of iPhone achievement. Either way, we predict you will not be able to avoid iPhone headlines in '08 any easier than in 2007. They are everywhere.
A content deal may not delight Apple fans like a new gizmo would, but there would be no shortage of smiling faces and emoticons if iTunes finally brought the entire Beatles catalogue to its store. Beatles fan are frustrated they can’t access their favourite tracks through iTunes, so shouldn’t Apple finally listen to these music fans? Then again, any iTunes upgrade or label partnership will likely garner praise, since iTunes continues to be the top destination for digital tracks.
Finally, there was an unusual rumour leaked earlier this year about a partnership between Apple and Volkswagen. As much as people would love to see an “iCar” (picture Apple products seamlessly integrated into a Jetta, for example), the reality is much more sobering: Apple will likely bring more iPod docks into vehicles in 2008, in an effort to tattoo the Apple brand onto luxury cars. Expect this to give satellite radio a run for its money.
The Macworld unveiling will kick off 2008 with the kind of buzz usually associated with the Consumer Electronics Expo. But that’s how big Apple has become: it’s a tech company whose every twitch and shudder has the potential to impact the entire electronics industry at large.