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Applevine Report: Macworld Rumor Recap

macworld 2009 rumorsMacworld has been going on since 1985, the same year Steve Jobs resigned from Apple.   Since  1997, the year he came back, Apple has used the show as a springboard to introduce new products and as a pulpit for Steve to evangelize. 

In 1998, Jobs took to the stage to introduce the iMac.  In 2001, he enthusiastically showed iTunes and Apple’s first widescreen notebook.  In 2005, it was the Mac Mini and the iPod Shuffle.  Two years ago, in 2007, the iPhone took the spotlight.  Last year, it was the Macbook Air.    

Tomorrow, a new page will turn.  It will be Apple’s last year at the event (Apple announced they were pulling out of Macworld in December) and Steve Jobs won’t be giving the keynote.  Marketing exec. Phil Schiller will do it instead.   No one’s sure what the changes mean.  Will Apple quietly part ways with the independently run Macworld show? Or will the company say goodbye blazing with a surprise announcement of something new and unexpected?

As is always the case before a potential Apple product announcement, rumors are swirling.  With the countdown timer ticking down, from the Applevine, here’s a recap of some the big ones circling cyberspace and a view on the odds they’ll prove accurate:

•iMac and Mac Mini
In early November, Apple watching site MacNN reported their sources were saying redesigned Mac Mini and iMac product lines could be announced within a week.  The timing seemed odd and the rumor proved false, but variants have resurfaced for Macworld.  This time, they seem likely.

The Mini, Apple’s quirky portable desktop, hasn’t gotten a makeover since 2007.  Assuming it stays in the lineup and isn’t retired, it’s overdue.  The “all in one” iMac is ready for a facelift too.  Rumors predict case changes, faster processors and upgraded graphics chips.  
Odds: 1 to 3.

Unibody Construction for 17in Macbook Pro
The “big guy” in the Macbook line is missing the ‘unibody’ case.  Apple Insider and others have reported it was delayed in October. It could be ready now?  Some think a new battery design might also be revealed. 
Odds: 1 to 1

Software Surprises
MobileMe gets improvements?  iLife refreshed? iWork, Apple’s office suite, embraces ‘the cloud’?  Snow Leopard, the next generation of Apple’s O.S. (which was previewed last June) gets an official release date for second half of this year?….there’s a bunch of Software speculation floating around.

Something will likely be announced on the software side, even if just a date for the next product launch.
Odds: 2 to 1.

More Memory for iPhone and iPod Touch
32GB’s to double the iPhone’s capacity? 64GB, even 128, to load up the iPod Touch?  Memory prices have been down and speculation has predicted the upgrades since the summer and fall. Will they happen now? ….The iPod lineup was redone in September. Big changes aren’t likely there. A few memory upgrades is possible, maybe even bordering on probable.
Odds:  3 to 1

DRM Free iTunes
So far, the Big 4 music labels have largely shunned Apple when it comes to licensing their music without digital rights management (DRM).  Only EMI has struck a deal.  In November, there was questionable speculation that was due to change.  The facts were light but the buzz was high.    Nothing’s happened yet? Is now the time?

Probably not.  As noted in November, the music labels have set themselves on a path to try and create a more competitive digital marketplace.   Part of the strategy behind that appears to be an effort to keep iTunes in a DRM box while competitors are empowered with a broader selection of portable DRM-Free tunes.  Even though it is questionable whether it’s working, it doesn’t seem like a change is imminent.  We’ll see.
Odds:  20 to 1. 

iPhone Nano
A miniaturized, lower cost iPhone has been the subject of speculation since before the first iPhone even went to retail.  Over the months, the chatter has included talk of a two sided, two screen device and theories about a “clam shell” phone.  More than once, there’s been reference to a $99 phone and analyst commentary that multiple product SKU’s in the phone category are a natural progression.   Will we see it?  Eventually, sure, but now? Probably not. It’s a long shot.
Odds: 35 to 1.    

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