Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

And the winner is…

It’s that time of year again — the Apple rumor mill has kicked into high gear. The upcoming third quarter announcement is traditionally one of several points during the year at which Apple delivers a bevy of new products. In true Apple fashion, there have been absolutely no hints or leads, at least officially, regarding what changes will be made to their lineup. Instead, a flurry of rumors has risen, covering everything imaginable. The following is a run-down of which updates are almost a given, which updates are possible, but not definite, and which updates have absolutely no chance of seeing the light of day.

Updates That Are a Given:

  • Refreshed line of iPods: Apple’s vaunted iPod has reigned supreme for more years than I can remember, and currently holds roughly two-thirds of the MP3 player market. In keeping with last year’s practice, over the summer Apple announced a back to school deal for college students: buy a Mac before September 15, get a “free” iPod Touch or iPod Nano (free as in pay for it, then fill out a $300 rebate). This accomplishes several things. First, it helps to clear out iPod inventory, presumably to make way for new models. Second, it helps to maintain Apple’s ubiquity on college campuses (college students, as a whole, make up a disproportionate percentage of Apple sales, and as a result Apple’s market share is higher on college campuses, particularly in laptops). Finally, even though there is a fat, juicy rebate to be had, you’d be surprised how many people will fail to actually do the paperwork to receive it, or don’t get it in on time, or simply don’t realize that they needed to complete a rebate in the first place. Apple will certainly see increased sales off of their promotional, it’s just a matter of how much. Furthermore, plenty of images have surfaced suggesting a completely new design for the iPod Nano. If they are accurate, the next Nano will move away from the “fat man” style of the current generation and return to more of a long, thin design (similar to the previous Nano), with a rounded case and screen. Blogger Kevin Rose has predicted such a move, and was kind enough to include a picture of the presumed new Nano. Other iPod updates have been rumored to include minor design changes to the Touch, possible storage capacity upgrades across the board, and perhaps a price adjustment so that the iPhone and iPod Touch do not compete with each other (the 3G iPhone is priced at $199 and $299 with a two year contract, whereas the iPod Touch currently sells for $299, $399, and $499). Perceived value is higher for the iPhone with its richer feature set, so I’m guessing the iPod Touch will undergo a price drop, perhaps $50-$100 per model. Supposedly September 9th is D-Day for the iPod updates, although whether or not that will actually be the case is anyone’s guess.

    go to kevinrose.com for more information

    go to Kevin Rose's website for more information

Other Possible Updates:

  • New Macbook: Apple’s popular laptops, while periodically updated with newer processors, have not received any major aesthetic changes in years. The Macbook, in particular, is in dire need of hardware changes and a new look. Apple’s reputation has kept their products selling, but you can only go so long without becoming obsolete. If there is a Macbook update, which I would peg at around a 50% likelihood of happening in the next quarter or so, here is what would likely be updated: First, a larger hard drive. 250 Gb hard drives would put Apple in line with the competition. Second, more/newer ports and connectivity options. Currently, the Macbook only has two USB 2.o ports – that number should be bumped up to three, maybe even four. Also, toss the firewire and mini-DVI ports on there (you know, the ones that most people don’t even recognize and never ever use) and replace them with an eSATA port for external hard drives, and an HDMI port for video out. Third, cut the crap with memory – the base Macbook only ships with 1 Gb. Seriously? My grandparents have more in their laptop. 2 Gb is the standard everywhere else, and it should be included in the base configuration. You want a serious memory upgrade? Give me 4 Gb in the more expensive models. Finally, Macbook aesthetics need some updating. Personally, I don’t care much whether the it keeps the white/black look or switches to brushed aluminum like the Macbook Pro and Macbook Air, but regardless it could stand to slim down a bit. That glossy plastic case that was hip a few years ago is starting to look clunky.
  • Mac mini: This one is kinda tough for me. For a while, I’d been waiting for Apple to give the Mac mini the axe – it was underpowered and overpriced, quite frankly. More recently, however, there has been a definite trend toward tiny PCs, such as the Eee Box by ASUSTek, which is designed specifically for basic computing use – web surfing, text editing, email, etc. I would love to see Apple continue to offer the Mac mini, but only if they update the little sucker. Since the target demographic is the most basic of computer users, powerful hardware isn’t needed, but a redesign and new name would be welcome (Mac Air, anyone?). Pair that with a price drop from the current $599 and $799 to around $349 and $549, and you’d have a killer product.

    New Macbook?

    New Macbook?

Updates With Absolutely No Chance of Seeing the Light of Day:

  • Apple MID / Reborn Newton: Don’t get me wrong on this one – I’d love to see this as much as anyone. I think MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices) stand a good chance of becoming extremely popular in the next 3-5 years. In fact, if an Apple MID ever comes out, I’ll probably skip class and head to my nearest Apple store as soon as it ships (I’m not exactly a member of the Cult of Mac, but that koolaid does look awfully good…). Unfortunately, I just don’t see it happening this time around. Maybe Steve Jobs will use it as his trademark “oh, and one more thing” at the Macworld Expo in January, but not any sooner than that.
  • New Cinema Displays: Someone out there was predicting that Apple would update its Cinema Displays (I really can’t remember where I read it, other than… it was on the Internet. Really helpful, right?). Anyway, I’m not sure they would pull something like that, if only because it’s just not that necessary. I suppose they could make the bezel a little thinner, or add HDMI as a connectivity option, but really that’s about it. They are quality monitors, albeit a little too expensive for my tastes, and seem to fit Apple’s current product line quite well.

That about sums it up for now. iPods, Macbooks, and all the rest. There are a few more things that might be coming out, like a new subscription model for the iTunes Store, or maybe Blu-ray support in the next OS-X update, but quite frankly I don’t care too much about either of those. I’m all about the hardware, baby. In closing, feel free to comment, whether the above content delighted or infuriated you, I’d love to get some feedback.

–Brian

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August 27, 2008 - Posted by | Tech | , , , , , , , ,

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