Rumors Abound for Macworld 2009!

So it’s that time of the year again! Macworld starts today but the keynote, given this year by Phil Schiller, is scheduled for tomorrow. This gives us a day to gather our thoughts and review the rumors making their way to you by way of Apple Bloggers, Apple-Centric news websites and the media in general. AppleHits will attempt to predict the likely and unlikely announcements coming through the rumor mill that runs rampantly throughout the internet.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard Demonstration: (Likely).

Apple will most likely demonstrate the next iteration of it stellar operating system OS X (v10.6) Snow Leopard.

It will highlight the greatly enhanced and cutting-edge “under the hood” functionality that is meant to increase the Macs speed, stability and efficiency by taking advantage of its graphic and multicore processors, while decreasing the size and footprint of the operating system, thereby giving back more storage space to the user.

As Apple has previously announced, unlike most historical operating systems upgrades, the advancements will not come in the form of new features available to the end user.

Novel key components, such as Grand Central and OpenCL, will take advantage of the power of graphic processor units (GPU) and modern multicore processors to more efficiently process tasks and deliver a huge boost to performance. In addition to other enhancements, the upgrade will also include built-in Microsoft Exchange support. 

Completion of the Snow Leopard is rumored to be ahead of schedule!

Important note: It is thought that the next upgrade will not support PowerPC Macs. However, if you look at the components that were announced by Apple, perhaps not all the features will be able to take advantage of older PowerPC technology.

Since no new end user features will be included, those PowerPC’s running the current version of Mac OS X won’t feel too slighted. Perhaps whatever features OS X Snow Leopard will have that can be useful to PowerPC Macs will be added to OS X Leopard 10.5, thereby extending PowerPC support with new enhancements for a longer time period.

Update to the iMac and Mac Mini: (Likely).

Rumors have the iMac and Mac Mini receiving NVIDIA chipsets and Mini DisplayPort connectors just like the newly revamped 13” and 15” MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks.

The Mac Mini is also rumored to be imitating its bigger brethren in material build and cosmetic appearance and may be configured to support 2 SATA hard drives in exchange for the optical drive.

This would position the Mac Mini as an ideal, lower-budget, small business server with the capability to easily perform RAID 1 mirroring.

Update to 17” MacBookPro: (Likely).

The 17” MacBook Pro will most likely be joining its siblings with a unibody enclosure and possibly, an extended long-life battery that is not user-replaceable.

The extended long-life battery component is a very interesting rumor. The rate-limiting step of mobile devices is battery life. The more powerful and sophisticated the system, the more demand is placed on the power source.

If Apple has managed to work out the “limited battery life” dilemma, using perhaps Silver-Zinc batteries, then it will have improved the attractiveness and usability of future MacBooks, iPhones and iPods.

Imagine a world where you don’t have to be constantly looking for a power source and instead concentrate on important tasks like, reading a good book to your kids, enjoying a romantic movie with your loved one or balancing your checkbook, which perhaps now may be accomplished on a mobile device without the need to worry about losing power (crazy thought, I know)!

iPhone Nano: (Unlikely).

The smaller, more compact and cheaper version of the popular iPhone 3G will most likely not make its debut at Macworld.

XSKN, an iPhone case manufacturer with a history of disclosing cases for as of yet unreleased Apple products, such as the iPhone 3G and iPod Nano 4G, listed an “iPhone Nano” model to select cases on their website.

There is no doubt there will be more iPhone models with more varied appearance, functionality and price range. However, I do not believe this will be announced on Tuesday. For what its worth, I have a hard time understanding how to take the iPhone and make it smaller so that the screen is still useful for interacting with and viewing.

Maybe a paper thin OLED display using a long-life battery might aid in realizing this elusive gizmo (although it wouldn’t shrink the price).

iWork and iMovie as additional features to cloud computing: (Some of it likely, some of it not likely).

The thought that iWork may be available on the internet is actually very exciting. This may signify Apple’s move to deliver online applications and experiences that would be accessible to Macs, PC’s, Netbooks and more importantly iPhone/iPod Touch for writing, editing and publishing on the web.

I would imagine that the application would have components anchored in the cloud and grounded on your desktop or notebook. Retrieving and editing documents on the go without having to take up memory on your mobile device would be a great advantage and keeping a copy on your desktop or laptop to access if an internet connection cannot be established is very desirable as well.

The iMovie component of this rumor does not sit all that well with me.

Uploading a few minutes of a completely edited video to my MobileMe gallery or to YouTube takes quite a while.

Waiting to upload all of your raw video clips and then editing them online seems a bit cumbersome. A feature that would seem a bit more reasonable is one that offers minor editing or tweaking online that can be accomplished with your Mac or iPhone.

Maybe this is the beginning of Apple’s migration to the clouds for most of its applications.

Web 2.0 features may be robust enough to accomplish most mundane tasks on your device, leaving the powerful intense processing to specialized applications, i.e., professional photo and video editing, large networked business applications and databases residing on local hardware.

It also may allow Apple to charge a subscription fee for cloud computing services. This would generate recurrent revenue while Apple consistently updates and enhances performance and user experience without relying on the periodic release of software and hoping that people will pay for the upgrade.

This migration to the clouds would also decrease the need to produce high-priced hardware.

Whatever Phil Schiller is going to announce Tomorrow, it will give us all much more to talk about!

A quick note about Steve Jobs and his health: To assure Apple fans, customers and investors that he is not in trouble with his health, Mr. Jobs has issued an open letter today to bring an end to the rampant rumors of his impending demise.

Stating the reason for his weight loss as a “hormone imbalance,” Mr. Jobs continued that the remedy is fairly simple and straightforward and that he has already begun treatment. We wish you well and a speedy recovery.

What would you like to see announced at the last Macworld that Apple will participate in?

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