Macworld is almost upon us, and despite the unfortunate news this past week of Steve Jobs’ health problems, Apple’s management team must charge ahead as it has done in years past. Macworld is coming a little later in the month that in some years, and it’s clearly separated from CES, which is a blessing. There’s much anticipation about what Apple will announce now that the iPhone 4 on Verizon debuted the week after CES ended.
Here is my personal list of what I’d like to see come out of Apple. Some of these wishes may be granted next week, while others will hopefully roll out throughout the rest of the year.
1. New MacBook Pros- supporting the full Intel line up of i3, i5, and i7 chips. It’s time to bid the Core 2 Duo MacBooks adieu! Subtle design changes would be nice as well, getting closer to the unibody construction and more rigid elements (not that they aren’t already rigid) of the MacBook Air but in bigger chassis. It would be pretty impressive, but to go full Air design would be expensive, so maybe there is a middle ground. I’d like to see MacBook Pro price points drop a bit with the entry-level coming in just under $1,000, bumping the single MacBook to sub $800. It’s time to do this. I’d like to see some solid state SKUs as well in the MacBook Pro lineup and some decent hard disk sizes, say 1TB+ now that storage is so cheap. It doesn’t take long to fill up a MacBook Pro’s hard drive with media files.
2. New iPads– well, everyone expects a new iPad, as do I since it’s been nearly a year since the debut. The iPad 2nd generation no doubt will have front and back cameras, sport a better screen resolution (though I highly doubt a “retina display”), more memory, an SD slot and will be a tad thinner. Look for it to have more touch capabilities like when closing apps or shutting down. Expect the hardware-based select button to be gone. It would be nice to have an adapter to USB as well. I just hope Apple doesn’t change the synch/connector port so all the options purchased by Gen 1 owners will still work. Look for a better graphics processor to go along with the enhanced display. A dual-core A5 processor? Quite possible for both iPad and iPhone.
3. NAS support in iLife and iWorks– I know that iLife 11 recently debuted, but Apple is still dragging its heels on allowing you to keep your media files on anything other than an iMac or MacBook. This is especially an issue in iMove and iDVD where you may be able to store content from digital camcorders on external hard drives and network attached storage solutions, but the project files must reside on the Mac. iMovie can only use the local drive to asemble the parts to make a movie and then burn it to DVD. At this point, this is insane. Media files are growing in number in the household and Apple needs to allow user generated content to reside both pre and post production to reside and be fully accessible on a NAS plugged into a router. This would allow you to access it on all the Macs in the house and on Apple TV. I transferred 55 digital Hi-8 tapes over the holidays and quickly ate up my iMac drive with iMovie project files and iDVD files, even though the raw footage is on external drives. Working seamlessly with NAS should be a top priority in the Mac group.
4. More iOS 4.3 details- this includes new usage models around the new video streaming capabilities in the beta, although Apple will most likely limit them to Airplay only and not support other third party hardware. Expect additional multi-touch gestures and how they will enable new capabilities on iPhones, iPods, and iPads going forward.
5. iPhone 5- will be a new design sporting the A5 processor that brings Apple into the dual-core mobile world. They may also use the A5 in future iPads now that both competitive smart phones and tablets have dual core chips in their roadmaps. This will bring 1080p playback and transfer to the iPhone in a screamingly fast way. Verizon will get the A4 processor and 3G chipsets for now because LTE chipsets are not ready yet, nor are CDMA chips that allow for talking on the phone and surfing the Web at the same time. AT&T will get the iPhone 5 with A5 processor, dual band GSM-CDMA and it will be a world phone and be blazingly fast.
6. New design for iMacs- it feels about right to break the iMac mold once again and also support the full line up of i3, i5, and i7 Intel chips, and offer more storage, more memory, and more features like SD slots. But it also feels like the design is getting a little stale. The capability to make iMac thinner is there, and even though desktop unit growth is not great, I still think there is a market for Apple in desktop computing, probably with enhanced super thin displays, and wireless integration with iPad and iPhone. The tools are their. iMacs could stand to get cooler temperature wise and embrace solid state in some SKUs.
7. Fix MobileMe- you just shouldn’t have to pay a fee to sync your devices and content when they don’t sync as advertised . You don’t most of the time in a Windows world. MobileMe has been around for almost two years now and I still refuse to use it based on the horror stories. Apple needs to make MobileMe free or add more features and tier the offering in the classic freemium model with a free entry level point and then possibly two paid tiers. But please, please, please, just make it work!
8. More details on Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”– expected by this summer, I’d look for Apple to start showing off Lion at Macworld next week. The Mac app store is already out and is a central focal point for Lion as well as new navigation capabilities that will combine the Dashboard, Spaces, Expose’ and elements of the Dock, which separately seem a bit confusing at times.I would also expect that Mac OS X will start to borrow some iOS capabilities. There are definitely things to learn from iOS.
We’ll see what Apple has in store next week as Macworld starts, but there are many ways they can improve upon the portfolio going forward.
– Randy Giusto