24 hours and counting – Steve Jobs’ Macworld Expo keynote is almost here….

Posted by Chris Green on Monday January 9 @ 5:32 pm

Apple CEO Steve Jobs during the WWDC 2005 Keynote

In a fraction over 24 hours from the time I posted this entry, Macworld Expo in San Francisco will spring to life with the usuall opening keynote from Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

At last year’s Expo, Jobs unveiled iLife 05, the company’s digitlal lifestyle bundle comprising iTunes 6, iPhoto 5, iMovie HD, iDVD 5 and GarageBand 2. iLife 06 will be launched during the keynote. We know this thanks to a goof by Apple’s web monkeys, who inadvertly let slip a new support page early, which contained brief details of a new app – iWeb – which we suspect to be a WYSIWYG web page creator, probably linked to an updated .Mac service, which itself is due for an update on Tuesday while the keynote takes place.

Also highly likely is the announcement of a new iPod to replace the iPod Shuffle. The two iPod Shuffle models have not been updated since they were launched one year ago at Macworld Expo 2005, and the 512MB and 1GB screenless players are looking tired, though still selling well. Expect to see both axed and replaced with a single offering, which will either be a 1GB or 2GB flash-based device with a very basic screen. If the device is a 2GB unit, expect to also see the iPod Nanos boosted to 4GB and 6-8GB respectively.

No new information regarding the future plans for Front Row. We had hoped it would be bundled into iLife, but the web siste cock-up made no reference to it as part of the iLife 06 line-up, only the new web app. Apple may extend the bundling to other devices, most likely the Mac Mini, but for the moment, sadly, existing users may have to continue to make do with illegal hacked downloads.

Finally – did someone say new, Intel-based Mac? If we take Steve’s statements at the WWDC as fixed, then we will not see the first retail Intel-based machine until at least June. My money is on one Intel-based machine announcement on Tuesday. The machine ripe for update is the Mac Mini, which has had no offcial processor bump since its laucnh at Macworld Expo last year.

Other rumours include larger cinema displays, a move into HDTV sets and the release of a Mac Mini-based home media centre. Little evidence has emerged to support any of these, but don’t rule them out. HP and Dell have both launched large HD-ready displays and the home media role is an obvious one for the Mac Mini.

FYI: As I write this, all Mac models, 512MB iPod Shuffle, 2GB iPod Nano, Cinema Displays and iLife 05 are showing as 24-hour dispatch. The 1GB Shuffle, 4GB iPod Nano are on 1-2 day shipping. Extended shipping times ahead of a keynote are often a good indicator of a product that is about to be refreshed or axed.

UPDATED: I will be doing some media appearances over the next 48 hours:

  • RADIO: Tuesday, 5.45am – BBC Radio 5 Live: Talking about the business problems facing computer games retailer Game
  • TV: Tuesday, 8.30pm – BBC News 24: Live post-keynote coverage and analysis
  • Radio: Tuesday, TBC (late evening) – BBC World Service: Post-keynote coverage and analysis
  • TV: Wednesday, 6.45am – CNBC: Live post-keynote coverage and analysis

I will update this post with details of any other media bits I am doing.

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