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Our Forecast for What You’ll See at Macworld SF 2005
January 7th 2005, by Keith Benicek, Editor

While running around the mega tech festival called CES, many of us are already thinking about what will be the big surprises at Macworld Expo 2004 in San Francisco next week. Well, to tell you the truth, I been thinking about this and doing a lot of undercover research for the past five months.

Since attending a very disappointing MWSF 2004, and observing the changing face of Apple in Cupertino (creation of essentially two separate operations – iPod/iTunes Music and then everything else (Macs, software, etc.), I have already been pretty apprehensive about what we might see.

Then with some pretty disappointing news about heat issues and production problems coming out of IBM’s Fishkill factory where the PPC 970 is designed and manufactured, optimism has turned to what we might NOT see.

Watching news blips and leaked info from Apple’s suppliers companies and sifting through the 90% garbage from the juvenile “Apple rumor sites” are also part of the ingredients in getting a take on a Macworld SF Forecast.

So based on the “evidence” out there, let me make some predictions that I’d almost bet on.

1. - The first one is an easy one; there just won’t be a faster than 2.5GHz G5 Power Mac announced for availability in the first half of 2005, or longer. The reason is pretty simple, IBM has some real problems with 90-nanometer processor dye manufacturing and excessively hot running PPC-970 prototypes make anything production real unlikely in the near future (link 1, link 2)

2. - No G5 PowerBooks this year, is actually another easy prediction and the reason is simple is well. The G5 just runs too hot and chews up Amps like a NFL Linebacker and steaks. If you thought the G4 TiBook’s burned your lap wth it’s toasty bottom, a G5 PowerBook would set you on fire in the current state of technology.

And no there won’t be a PowerBook Tablet, as Apple PR sucker punched everyone two years ago with planted rumors. But I do think that there is a good possibility of a Motorola (now Freescale ) based Dual Core G4 1.5GHz PowerBook either at Macworld or just months after. (link) Would it be really any faster? Certainly not double the speed of a single core, if it follows along the line of AMD’s printed results with their prototype 64-bit dual-core puppy.

3. - There appears to be real good evidence that Apple is going to announce a Sub- $500. G4 Mac (not including any display) code named Q88 at MWSF 2005. In fact Apple has sued Apple rumor mill Think Secret for spilling supposed “inside info”. Stupid move by Apple , because this just verifies the story. (link) The specifications will be underwhelming is my prediction, and still not price competitive with most $500 PC’s spec for spec. When will Steve Jobs learn?

4. – The other big hub-bub has been the “big deal” Flash Based iPod coming in at 1GB. I do predict that this will be announced at MWSF 2005, but for what big deal? There is already at least 40 or 50 others already out there and I’m betting that the Apple offering will be over-priced just like all the other iPods.

5. – While we’re on the subject of iPod, I’m betting that the 80GB iPod is a done deal already, as it really should have been 6 months ago. But shipping won’t begin until 3rd quarter 2005, mark my words.

There will also be a revised (and cheaper manufactured) iPod Mini debuted at the same capacity or perhaps 5GB’s, but the price will remain at $249.99.

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6. – New software will include an all new version of Apple Works called iWork ’05 (code-named Sugar). This will be available in the all-new iLife ’05 bundle. Also updated are Keynote 2, iDVD 5 and a new Jam Pack 4.

Adobe will be announcing Creative Suite 2.0 and but it won’t ship until around March or April 2005. Individual versions of Photoshop CS 2.0 and Illustrator CS 2.0 will also be available at the same time.

Those are the main new offerings Forecast and of course there will be plenty of new goodies from all the Apple third-party brands, including a lot of new dumb accessories from iPod junk provider Griffin – like a stupid Flashlight attachment for a $499. iPod, yeah brilliant idea.bar
Light Dim At End Of Tunnel
But the overall future for the Apple Macintosh line isn’t all that bright if Apple doesn’t rediscover “the way.”

A little personal observation after 28 years of experience with Apple (yep, I bought an Apple “I” motherboard for $666. in late 1976) and having owned about 18 Apple computers (2 Newtons) through the years, I have watched the direction corporate has taken over those years for good and bad. I’ve also been writing about Apple since Byte Magazine too. So what I’m about to say comes with some educated wisdom.

Apple has two negative issues to deal with that will seriously impact the future of the Mac and those of us that use the platform.

Mac’s are overpriced for the everyman. Sorry, myself and most non-Mac Fanatics, don’t buy the “party line” that they’re worth more because of the materials. Since the first of the “PC beige” G3’s, Macs have been made with the same off the shelf components that everyone from Acer and Dell to HP and Gateway uses except for the processor.

And, if you price out the wholesale cost of a current at the time IBM PPC G4 or G4 versus an equivalent P-4 or AMD Athlon, the cost is the same. Motherboard (Logicboard) manufacturing costs the same too. I’m not saying that Apple is gouging Mac buyers, but with a fixed 7% dealer margin, “someone” is making a huge profit. This is the single most reason that cost Apple the loss it’s once 80%+ market share. The market share, according to researchers like Gartner and IDC, is still declining and not growing.

The second issue is the lost direction of the company. They have found that it is far easier and far more profitable to sell music made by someone else and played on a music device made cheaply in China, than to be aggressive in a head to head price battle with the quality PC makers. (I’m not talking at $300 PC’s of questionable quality either)

As an original Apple personal computer owner and ongoing user, I am not only concerned about the future, but also irritated that computer company I’ve supported with a lot of hardware and software dollars is swiftly becoming what I coined a couple years ago, The Apple iPod and iTunes Music Company (no not you Paul and Ringo).

All the Apple major media advertising, which might increase awareness and knowledge of the Mac platform, goes to selling iPods and iTunes Music. When was the last TV, Cable or Radio ad you saw for a Mac?? Nuff said!

The Mac is easily 90% generic parts, which are also found in most any PC, so why is the Mac so over priced compared to equivalent Windows PC’s from quality brands you find at any CompUSA or Best Buy? Apple historically scrimps on the amount of supplied RAM, HDD’s that are comparably small by market standards and standard PowerMacs never include a display for the excessive prices charged. Even Apple LCD displays are 80% to 100% higher in price than comparative quality from other major brands.

My personal opinion is, Apple is greedy and we Mac users are being soaked for the privilege of needing to own a Mac. Fewer and fewer computer users are willing to put up with this and it shows in the evidence that the Mac is now only 2.1% market share. It's time for a wake-up call in Cupertino, CA.


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