Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Apple’s 2008 9-icon multi-touch iPod lineup [mockup]

Following on from MacPredictions previous post, where we speculated that Apple might introduce a 9 icon variant of the iPhone OS, for the Nano and Classic iPod lines, here’s a mockup to illustrate how they might appear. The iPhone interface combined with a smaller form-factor, could make the unloved classic, with up to 160GB, a popular choice once again.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Where are Apple’s diminishing margins going? A new 9-icon multi-touch iPod Classic and iPod Nano (“iPod Air”)

In Apple’s quarterly analyst conference call this week, the most interesting morsel to be throw to the company's sometimes loyal flotilla of commentators and pundits, was the forecast that margins would diminish in the coming quarter as a result of an unannounced product.

The most likely contender to be eating away at Apple’s healthy margins this quarter is a new iPod, since these are typically announced in the August/September timeframe. This blog continues to believe that the iPod Nano will be the next product to receive Apple’s multi-touch magic, with a stripped-down version of the iPhone OS, based upon a smaller nine icon screen. We also believe that this nine-icon interface could be introduced to the iPod Classic, meaning that the iconic click-wheel interface could finally be retired from Apple’s lineup.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Commenting on unannounced products? Pinch me!

In a short, but extraordinarily revealing interview with Greg Joswiak, head of iPod and iPhone product marketing, Joswiak gives Extremetech the lowdown on three burning questions about the future of iPhone: cut and paste, GPS driving directions (aka speech synthesis) and office productivity suites (think iWork Touch). MacPredictions is still heady with excitement that three of this blog’s favourite topics could be discussed so openly by such a senior Apple staffer.

In a nutshell, cut and paste is coming, so are GPS driving directions (and therefore, presumably, speech synthesis services) and Jowsiak sees no obstacles for the development of 3rd party office suites, except perhaps the absence of a “cross-application file structure.” Sadly, Extremetech did not apparently get a chance to ask the obvious follow-up questions - when will you introduce a Finder-style file browser, and will Apple produce an iWork suite for iPhone. Nonetheless, in one blog posting, Extremetech have given us more than we often get in an entire keynote. I think I need to go and find somewhere to lie down now.
(link via MacNN)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Pink? Seriously?

It’s been a bitter-sweet weekend for Apple. Technical problems have dogged the launch of both the iPhone 3G, and MobileMe. Problems with Apple’s activation servers left many early adopters, who had waited in line for many hours, unable to play with their new toy. Problems with 02 & AT&T’s retail systems compounded the sense of chaos, resulting in slow transaction processing at many stores. MobileMe’s launch didn’t fare much better. It’s taken several days for Apple to get their Me.com service to reasonably responsive state - far longer than their planned outage time.

In both instances, Apple can take some comfort from the fact that they have been victims of their own success - the interest in iPhone 3G has been off the charts. I’ve personally never seen anything like it. In London UK, there weren’t just queues at the Apple Store in Regent Street, but at every 02 and Carphone Warehouse store across the city. It was quite remarkable, and bodes very well for the long term success of the new device.

But now that the dust has settled, there’s one remaining thing that troubles me. One little detail which will bug me each time I use my Mac from this day forward. Yes, it’s that friggin’ pink iDisk icon that Apple have foisted onto my desktop. Pink? Seriously? That combined with the pastel blue and the cloud makes MobileMe look more like My Little Pony than a cutting edge IT platform. I had thought that things couldn't get aesthetically worse for the Mac than Apple’s new Star Trek inspired desktop pattern for Leopard, but it seems I was wrong. Let’s hope that Apple snaps out the their My Little Pony phase soon.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Mobile Me Launches [Updated]

Dialogue boxes are popping up on Macs around the world, as we speak.

[Update] Looks like www.me.com went down under the load. Apple's put a redirect in place, pointing  back to its marketing pages for the time being. Some lucky team of engineers in Cupertino are sweating right now, I guess!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

New Macbook Pro - AppleInsider pics

This blog has been predicting a Macbook Air-style facelift for the Macbook Pro line for some time now, and the chances of that just got a little more likely today with the publication of these spy shots from Apple Insider, which appear to show the new outer aluminum enclosure of something that looks like a 15” Macbook Pro, but with the more rounded styling of a Macbook Air case. Indeed, from the look of these spy shots, Mac Predictions mockups are looking pretty prescient.

Previous Macbook posts:

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

This round goes to Shaw Wu at American Technology Research

In April, Mac Predictions ran a piece on analyst predictions for the release of the iPhone 3G. Doom mongers RBC Capital Markets, who claimed that technical problems would result in the iPhone 3G being delayed until September-December, were (fortunately) completely wrong.

Most of the other analysts were in the same territory - as Nassim Nicholas Taleb would point out, their predictions seem to correlate more closely with each other, than the actual data. Perhaps some of them were just taking a guess at a WWDC release, or maybe they were simply following the crowd. Nothing wrong with that for a blogger, but analysts actually get paid for their predictions!

One analyst who deserve congratulations is Shaw Wu of American Technology Research, whose “late June, or July” timeframe proved to be the most accurate. At the time, he cited checks with supply chain sources, which should lend more credence to such claims in future.

Too early:
  • Gartner
  • Citigroup
  • UBS
  • Bank of America
  • Current Analysis

Pretty close:
  • American Technology Research
  • Piper Jaffray

Too late:
  • RBC Capital Markets

Sunday, 6 July 2008

More surprises in store for 11th? iWork Touch?

All has been quiet on the predictions front for a while now. The truth is, there just hasn’t been much to say, so Mac Predictions hasn’t said anything. In the meantime, this blog did enjoy getting the BBC’s attention with our last post - despite referring to them (with some accuracy) as the “British broadcast monopoly.”

But as the biggest day of the year for Apple approaches - iPhone 3G day - the time has come to post a new prediction. What surprises (if any) does Apple have in store for us this Friday? Here’s what we know to expect:
  • iPhone 3G launch
  • iPhone 2.0 firmware download
  • App Store
  • Free Apple Remote application for iPhone or iPod touch to control iTunes playback
This last item was inadvertently revealed by Apple with the developers pre-release version of iTunes 7.7. It’s a great idea - a free app, downloadable from the App Store, for iPhone and iPod Touch, which will presumably allow the user to browse an iTunes library on a remote Mac or PC, using a combination of Bonjour and WiFi. And in combination with Apple’s AirTunes solution for wireless streaming of music to a hi-fi, it may finally complete Apple’s living room audio solution. In terms of the remote interface on the iPhone itself, MacPredictions envisages that this will appear almost identical to the iPhone’s own iPod application - right down to browsing album art in Cover Flow.

Launching a free, high-value App like this is certainly a great way to incentivize users to trial the new App Store, although to be honest, Mac Predictions thinks it would have been more elegant to integrate this functionality into the iPod app itself - perhaps with the option to browse and pair with additional iTunes libraries via a new “Sources” menu in preferences, similar to Apple TV. In the iPod app, a new “Sources” icon would then appear alongside “Songs,” “Artists,” “Albums,” etc. But hey, who are we to challenge Apple on this point. If it must be a separate app, so be it!

...Anyway, what does Apple’s new, free Remote app tell us? Simply this: Apple has surprises up their sleeve for this Friday, and the Remote app may not be the only one. Our bet is that they’ll have more than just free App’s up their sleeves. It seems unlikely that Apple will take a back seat and allow 3rd parties to have all the fun with iPhone app development. That’s hardly been their strategy with the Mac after all. Sure, they bundle free apps with the Mac, such as Mail, Calendar, Safari, etc. But they have plenty of premium apps as well, such as iLife, iWork, Final Cut Studio, Aperture and Logic. Isn’t it likely that they’ll pursue a similar strategy with iPhone?

Why would they not have announced such a plan last month at WWDC? Perhaps because it wouldn’t be very diplomatic to highlight to their community of developers who are just beginning to embrace the iPhone SDK that they’re going to be competing against Apple itself. This blog still believes that the first paid-for apps to see the light of day from Apple will be the mobile for iWork, which we anticipate will be called iWork Touch, and it could be coming as soon as this Friday.