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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No Show Big News

Probably the biggest news going into MacWorld San Francisco is not what insanely great new product Steve Jobs is going to seductively wave in front of everyone, The big news is Jobs won't be there. The infamous Jobs keynote that has as legend would say launched a thousand ships will not launch new products anymore.

This is an end of an era.

As much as Apple or Jobs himself want to play it down -- this is HUGE. Oh yeah, Apple is going to say they have leaders who can make Apple's case before their software developers and third-party partners as well as the loyal Apple base but no one inisder the company or outside is as important to Apple products, their design, and has the ability to articulate with such pitchman skill was Steve Jobs.

Add to that fact, Apple is saying it will not attend show like MacWorld any longer and you have a significant change in the culture of how Apple releases new products to the public.

With all the speculation about what Apple would reveal next week, a few things seem to be coming clear: there will be no Netbook (rumors are it might be unveiled in fall 2009) and the thrust of Apple announcements will be focused on updating the Mac-Mini line of computers.

An Nano-iPhone still remains uncertain, although, case manufacturers say they have orders for a new phone form factor - not an accurate indicator of Apple announcement. More than likely, we will see small changes: a 32 GB iPhone, a 64 GB iPod Touch and a upgrade to the iWorks suite of applications putting more of its functionality in the cloud.

This incrementally reflects a more conservative nature of Apple, the slowed pace of its R&D, and its increasingly reluctance to jump out and lead the industry with new category defining products.

The biggest news of the new year is Apple has chosen not to show up at the biggest Apple show of the year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Next Apple Wave

What will Apple unveil next?

Obviously, the retail consumer-drive Apple has swung into the Holiday season trying to move its inventory of iPhones, iPods, MacBooks, iMacs and MacPro Towers so we will not be hearing any new products for the remainder of 2008.

Then comes MacWorld SF and the speculation has already begun about what the new year will bring.

A favorite prediction is the iPhone Nano, a $99 iPhone with 8GB of memory designed to be sold in WalMart stores. A few weeks back there was a twitter all around that Apple and WalMart had made an agreement to sell a cheap iPhone with stripped down fearures of a phone and iPod MP3 player with Apple ease-of-use interface (illustration above). This would be too easy for Apple and, although they might want to take advantage of the price point to expand their share, this solution seems to the answer market managers look for rather than product innovators.

There are a lot of questions being asked about what will happen to the Mac-Mini, the tiny box that works for many desktops and pushes the bottom price of Apple's CPU line. Will Apple announce changes to the line of mini's or discontinue them?

A Mac Netbook would be a small sized cross between a tablet, a notebook and a laptop. The talk is Apple will want to come into the line of products with this priced at $599 and replace the Mac-mini or, at least, compliment the Mini with a much more mobile and touch interface device. As you might know, here at Apple Tech Blog, we've been advocating for a keyboard-less mobile tablet for over a year now and had hoped it would be announced at MacWorld SF 2008.

What Apple discovered in 2008 was the huge potential of the online Apps Store for selling software via the air waves. this sales and marketing model might now be in place for a Netbook to reap the benefits of sales in software downloads. An army of new software developers have profitably written and produced a huge number of apps for the iPhone and it could be good business and good will for Apple to turn this army in a new direction

The critics of the Mac Netbook say that the size of the Netbook market (just a little over 5 million units have been sold) is way too small for Apple to become interested and hope to see a ROI, however, Apple is in good shape to invent the category and with the App Store and iTunes drive tens of millions of new buyers into a new product category for the computer innovator.

Then, as usual, everybody else will follow, right?