Apple Rumor Roundup
Analyst Gene Munster is "almost certain" that Apple will release the long-anticipate Intel-based Mac Pro at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on August 7, which will replace the high-end Power Mac G5 that is one of Apple's last machines to see the upgrade to Intel chips. I'd have to agree with him, Apple needs now more than ever to significantly boost the power of their pro machines or they risk losing pro customers to other platforms. The Intel chip is the perfect avenue to increase the speed, performance, and responsiveness of the pro-line of machines.
Gene, with his powers of prediction is also "almost certain" that Apple's latest revision of OS X, code-named Leopard (v. 10.5), will see a release in late 2006 or early 2007. A part of this rumor which isn't yet clear is whether this latest revision will include an update to BootCamp, the software which allows Mac Hardware to dual-boot OS X and Windows XP. The update is speculated to add support for Windows Vista and a new feature which will allow both OSes to be run simultaneously, without the need for a reboot.
Next on the rumor-mill list are Apple's plans to unveil an iTunes movie store - similar to the very popular music store - that will sell feature-length films. There has been a lot of buzz about the difficulty Apple is facing in agreements with major film studios. Apple has changed the digital music store by insisting that every song sell for 99-cents regardless of how popular it is; this line of thinking is counter-intuitive to most record labels whose only interest is to squeeze every penny out of our pocket.
A similar pricing scheme is believed to be in the works for downloaded movies; reports speculate that movies will be sold for $9.99. There are still many issues that need to be resolved such as viewing permissions and copying rights before this service goes live.
Following the iTunes Movie Store rumor is the speculation that Apple is working on an "iPhone". The flop of the ROKR - in my eyes at least - makes many people believe that Apple wants to correct the huge mistake that Motorola made when designing the ROKR. The biggest problem most people have with the ROKR is that it is a mediocre music player AND a mediocre cell phone. Apple is known for the tremendous effort they put into designing hardware and software and many were disappointed at the failure of the ROKR. Whether Apple is actually working on an "iPhone" is still up in the air but certainly is more fiction than fact at this point (Munster puts the time to release for an "iPhone" at 12 months); its more likely that we will see an iPod device mashup sporting cell-phone capabilities and/or other PDA-like features. Here are some sketches of phones enthusiasts have put together:
The rumors don't stop here and they only get more ridiculous from this point on. A less certain rumor is that Apple is working on telephone capabilities for iChat 4.0, similar to Skype features, to be launched simultaneously with OSX 10.5. Again I would agree with Munster that this is less likely to be true but Apple has been known to surprise us in the past so we can't put anything past them.
Mac-enthusiasts and the like are speculating or maybe just praying for few new gadgets such as: a new video iPod that will have a touch-sensitive 4" viewing screen or a home media hub dubbed iHome that would combine music, photo, and video capabilities. The question with a touch-screen iPod is what is the need for that feature when the device GUI (graphical-user-interface) is already super intuitive, a touch-screen would only further increase the price of a device that Apple is looking to lower. The iHome story has been proposed so many times, don't people have any new ideas?
The last three rumors rounding out the top 10 are:
- Apple is in talks with in-flight entertainment systems to offer air travelers iTunes-branded audio content
- Apple is developing an ultra-portable Mac equipped with NAND-flash memory technology
- Apple may soon host advertisements on the iTunes music player interface
First, the in-flight entertainment just isn't Apple's niche, if Apple offered branded content like XM then this would 100% make sense but what most people don't remember is that Apple is just the middle-man that offers the technology and services to the men (or women) with the music. Apple is not in the business of making music content and I hope they never try to. What is a traveler's need to have access to purchase music? Again, maybe if Apple were Napster and offered subscriptions to listen to music then this might make sense but Apple doesn't so I don't see any validity in this rumor. On top of all of this, Apple would need to give the Airlines a cut of the profit, which is small to begin with.
Second on the list of downright dumb rumors is the ultra-portable Mac. All I have to say to this is why? It all comes down to what is Apple's reason for wasting time and money on an "ultra-portable" computer. Isn't that what a laptop is? Do people think that the MacBook and MacBook Pro aren't portable enough? If anything, Apple laptops are one of the most portable laptops on the market. Everyone knows that the equivalent Dell machines are nowhere near as portable especially with power supplies that weigh more than the laptop. Apple's product line is something they put care and consideration into, they are all about simplicity and adding another machine to it needs more justification than just "ultra-portable".
The last of these ingenuous rumors - Apple placing ads on iTunes - I swear must have come from some half-wit PC user. Apple is a company that strives to make technological tasks easier and remove all of the clutter. There is nothing about ads that follows this line of thought so you don't have to worry about seeing adds in iTunes anytime soon, that is unless Microsoft or Napster decide to buy iTunes - hah like that would ever happen.
So that ends the Apple Rumor Roundup. I bet you never thought people had so much free time to conjure up rumors about Apple's next step. If the past is any indicator of the future, the only thing we can be certain of is that Apple will stop at nothing to push the envelope and change what roles computers and now even gadgets play in our lives.