Oh boy…The MWSF ’08 Rumor Mill is hitting full-grind now. So what’s it to be this year? Let’s face it, after last year’s iPhone mania, it’s bound to be something big simply to avoid losing momentum. A brand new gadget? A tablet mac? Steve wearing bootcut jeans?I would hazard a guess that due to iPhone saturation last year, this year is almost certain to be more mac-based. Bring on the hardware! So, if there’s gonna be new hardware, what are the possibilities?The obvious thing for me would be the portable line. With recent reports of 13.3″ LED backlit screen being delivered, it isn’t too much of a stretch to suppose that the long-fabled ultraportable MBP is in prep as we speak. I would say that’s almost a certainty. I’m also hoping like mad that Jonny Ive & his minions have been tinkering with the rest of the MBP line as well. There hasn’t been a significant form-factor change for the MBP for years now and I think the time is ripe. At least a macbook style keyboard would be nice…As for the other ranges, well, the iMac is a definite no-no. The mini, I suspect is beyond refreshing (would be nice to see it replaced by something else – how about resurrecting the cube!), the macPro should get a little speedbump (as if it needs one!) and the macbook will presumably stay as-is. The iPhone shouldn’t be refreshed yet as it’s only just been launched in 1.0 state in most places outside the US. The SDK will probably be shown off, I would imagine and the sales stats bragged about, but that should be all.Which only leaves us with the poor AppleTV. It’s do or die there I reckon. Either something spectacular happens to it or it’ll go the way of the iPod Hi Fi thing that was paraded a couple of years back! SURELY something will be done to it soon….What do you reckon? Go on and post your ideas. Let’s face it- we always guess and we’re always wrong, but it’s a huge amount of fun!EDIT – Well, according to Jim Goldman at CNBC, it looks like the ultraportable is definitely on the cards: 50% thinner than the current MBPs, with no optical drive and flash memory, retailing for around $1500.Will be interesting to see how that translates to pounds… A straight currency exchange would make that £740. Yeah right. The current mid range MBP sells in the US for $2499. That’s £1232. In the UK they cost £1599. What’s with the £367 increase? Entry level MBP – $1999 (£985). UK cost? £1299. £314 difference. The 17″? $2799 (£1380). UK price? £1799. £419 difference!! WHA???
Hmmm. Steve Jobs has just spoken out against the DRM (Digital Rights Management) syetem that’s in play at the moment in the digital music world. The upshot of this currently is that if you buy tracks from iTunes, you are limited to playing that back on an iPod.
This is all because…
“Since Apple does not own or control any music itself, it must license the rights to distribute music from others, primarily the “big four” music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI. These four companies control the distribution of over 70% of the world’s music. When Apple approached these companies to license their music to distribute legally over the Internet, they were extremely cautious and required Apple to protect their music from being illegally copied. The solution was to create a DRM system, which envelopes each song purchased from the iTunes store in special and secret software so that it cannot be played on unauthorized devices.”
DRM drives a lot of people nuts, and it sounds like Steve is among them as he is calling now for the “Big 4” to stop being so paranoid and let people who buy music legally do with it as they wish after purchase. The best argument for this is that the very CDs which are sold directly by the “big 4” can be imported or ripped to any number of computers, and copied at home countless thousands of times (if anyone could be bothered) whereas those who make the effort to get their online music legally have all sorts of restrictions placed upon them, despite the fact that if they wanted to, they could find the same tracks DRM-free on a filesharing site and not pay a cent. What are these companies thinking about??
I’m with Steve on this one. It makes for a much fairer and competitive market when people aren’t locked to one particular music player, one particular music store or limited numbers of copies or plays.
If the record companies are really serious about the future of music and want to promote legal downloads, then axing DRM is probably the single best thing they could do.
Hopefully, now that the long rumoured, oft-imagined, frequently faked, mac-head’s fantasy ‘iPhone’ has been put on display for the world to see, hopefully the rumour mills can stop grinding and people can get to grips with what this means for the consumer, Apple and the mobile market in general.
In terms of sheer tech-wizardry, this thing is a marvel. I showed some of the kids I teach the features on the device and one piped up “how do they fit it all in?”. How indeed? Well, at a guess, I’d say at the cost of certain sacrifices- memory for a start. Anyone wanting any huge amount of data to be stored on this thing will be disappointed, but bear in mind, this is the first iteration of the product. The first iPod was 5 gb, right? What are they up to now? Patience. It will come.
The features are fantastic, and whatever your gripes about the cost, the U.S. only availability, the carrier choice – cingular, and whatever else that insatiable lot in the forums have been banging on about, you cannot disagree that this is an incredible piece of kit which sets the bar so high that the others in the field need a radio telescope to try and locate it.
Seriously, if you haven’t seen what this thing can do, go to www.apple.com/iphone and check it out for yourself. It’s an iPod, iTunes, video player, portable true internet device, e-mail device, and along with all the applications and widgets which run on it (on OSx, no less) it’s also a ‘phone’. I say ‘phone’ because when you compare this thing to what you or I, until yesterday, called a phone, you realise this iPhone is in a different league entirely. It’s simply astounding.
Whether or not I actually need this piece of wizardry is a different question, but for some folks it will be invaluable and will, in my opinion, simply annhilate the likes of Palm and Blackberry unless they do something, and do it quick.
As a personal side note, I found it rather amusing to watch Steve Jobs’ legendary “Reality Distortion Field” in action. My wife was sitting next to me playing about on her iBook as I watched the Keynote on my Powerbook. Although she uses a mac, she’s not a mac nut like me. “Why on earth are you watching that rubbish?” she asks me with thinly veiled contempt. “You already saw what he was announcing. Turn it off”. A couple of minutes later, I notice her looking across. She says, “It’s all very clever, but I don’t see why anyone would need all that”. A few minutes later she’s listening pretty intently and she turns to me and says. “He’s a really great speaker. And he seems like such a nice guy. He’d be a brilliant minister…”
Steve, whatever it is, bottle it and sell it as iEssence or whatever, but you’ll make more off the back of it than all the hardware Apple has sold since 1984.