Last Minute WWDC 2008 Predictions

Here are my last-minute predictions for this year’s WWDC announcements. Better late than never, I suppose.

iPhone

As expected, Steve Jobs will announce a new iPhone. The phone will have the curved shape and hard-plastic shell everybody’s been talking about, and will be available in several colors. It will feature switchable 3G, GPS, both front and rear facing cameras, and video-conferencing capabilities.

I expect we’ll probably see two models as well, but I’m betting the main difference will be storage space. I’m not feeling a “smaller model without 3G and GPS,” but c’mon, this is Steve. You just never know.

Availability: I don’t think the new iPhone will be available today. I haven’t heard about any reports of containers being delivered to Apple Stores yet (so far, only small, mystery boxes have been delivered). Container delivery is usually a good indication of availability. I’m guessing a few weeks.

We will also see a new version of iPhone firmware (should we start calling this iPhone OS X?) which will work on all existing iPhones and will bring all of the new, non-hardware specific features to existing iPhones. This should be available for immediate download.

I think we’ll see lowered prices on the new models, but I’m still on the fence about subsidized prices.

I’ll absolutely buy a new version of the iPhone the moment their available. This might mean I’ll be driving to the Apple store at Millennia Mall later today.

Displays

We’ll finally see new displays. I bet they rotate, too. It’ll be interesting to see how Apple handles the iSight integration on displays that rotate. They’ll probably be in the same price-range as the current units, too, and sport a style similar to the current round of iMacs. Sizes: 20", 24", 32".

Redesigned MacBook Pros

Gruber convinced me that we’ll probably see new MacBook Pros on the latest episode of The Talk Show. Those machines are still sporting what is essentially the same look as the last round of PowerBook G4’s, and they’re due for a redesign. If this happens, expect something similar to the MacBook Air, just bigger and, obviously, heavier.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the MacBook eventually go away entirely, leaving just the Air and the Pro.

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard is the code-name for Mac OS X 10.6. It will be announced today and will be distributed to WWDC attendees today as well. Gruber does a good job of predicting the shape of Snow Leopard. I’m not so sure that Apple will drop PowerPC support just yet, although I’m on the fence.

I think dropping PPC support would be a good move on Apple’s part. It would create a nice spike in sales for current hardware, inspiring otherwise “happy G5 users” to upgrade, at last. I’ve been an Intel Mac user since the day they were released, and we don’t have a single PPC Mac in production at the Hivelogic HQ (the G4 Cube and lampshade iMac are for display and testing purposes only).

If they don’t drop PPC support, then 10.6 will most certainly be the last OS X to support the aging chipset.

Me?

I think we’ll finally get to see the revamp of .Mac that people have been predicting for so long. The recent downtime .Mac users experienced recently might just be tied to this.

It’s been widely rumored that the new service will be called “Mac Me” or something along those lines. Apple’s registration of a series of me domain names supports this. But then again, it might just be due diligence, preserving their brand when a new top-level domain becomes available.

iPod

I don’t expect a new iPod, but one day soon I bet Apple slims down and the iPod line, dropping the iPod classic, leaving just the Shuffle, Nano, and Touch.

What We Won’t See

Although we’ll probably see a few systems get speed bumps, I don’t think we’ll see any real updates to the MacBook Air, the Mac Pro, or the MacBook.

Thoughts

Aside from the cool features we’ll see with the new iPhone and firmware updates, I don’t think this year will herald anything all new, such as the fabled Mac Tablet. I do think it’ll be a fun keynote, and Steve Jobs will focus on unity of the brand, growth of the Mac, and the simplicity of the OS (dropping Mac from the name, etc.).

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