Macworld 2008 predictions: Have your say

As CES, the world's largest tech, show wraps up, we gaze into the crystal ball in search of what Apple's annual Macworld conference next week might have in store.

Macworld

As CES, the world's largest tech show wraps up in Las Vegas, we gaze into the crystal ball searching for what might be revealed at Apple's annual Macworld conference next week in San Francisco.

Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about its development, with Macworld being the company's major platform for its product announcements. So it is with utter speculation that we bring you our predictions for Macworld 2008.

Ultra-portable MacBook or Mac Tablet
The word on the tubes is that Apple will launch an ultra-portable notebook (MacBook Nano, perhaps?) or a Mac tablet at Macworld. Naturally it would have to be extremely thin and light, with a minimalist aluminium or glossy design synonymous with Apple's design department. The advent of high-capacity solid-state drives (SSDs) could further reduce such a device's weight and size by replacing the traditional hard drive for storage. (At CES this week SanDisk announced that 72GB, 1.8-inch SSDs would be available in March.)

Blu-ray optical drives
Now Blu-ray is close to calling victory in the high-definition format wars -- well, that's the buzz around CES this week after movie studio Warner dumped its support for HD DVD , Apple can confidently start putting Blu-ray optical drives in its Mac line of desktops and notebooks, or at least offer it as an optional extra.

HD iTunes videos
With sales of HD plasmas and LCD climbing, Apple needs to crank up the resolution of videos it offers through its iTunes Store . Unfortunately Aussies don't have access to movies or TV shows in iTunes yet, but it has been 10 months since we first noticed Australian OFLC ratings pop up in the iTunes Parental Control settings, so we hope countries other than the US get included in any video announcements included in the inevitable iTunes segment of the keynote.

Movie rentals and iPod videos on DVDs
Rumour sites are abuzz that Apple is considering entering the movie rental market; it already sells movies and TV shows outright in the US. Broadcasting company Fox is also rumoured to be including cut-down (resolution-wise) iPod-compatible versions of videos sold on upcoming DVDs.

iPhone enhancements
Macworld 2008 will mark the first anniversary of the unveiling of the iPhone, although us Aussies still await its arrival. Jobs stated at the last keynote that we'd see it in Asia-Pacific countries in 2008, but we doubt very much it will be the iPhone in the hands of millions of our US and European counterparts already.

3G is the most cried-out for addition from iPhone admirers and those refraining from purchasing. The AT&T boss said in December a 3G iPhone will be available sometime in 2008. However, Steve Jobs four months prior said battery life is the main concern for a 3G iPhone, hinting at a launch at end of 2008 -- still, we think there's still a chance the 3G iPhone will be announced next week.

While we're on the iPhone, why not throw a GPS chip into it. It would enhance the existing Google Maps application, which still lacks the My Location feature recently launched to approximate your location via nearby mobile phone towers. (We haven't had much luck with My Location on other handsets, though, the last time we tried it in Sydney, Google Maps thought we were somewhere in southern Thailand).

Camera resolution on the iPhone is due for a boost, too, with Nokia's N95 and Sony Ericsson's K850i kicking Apple's butt in this regard -- both feature 5-megapixel resolutions. GPS combined with a camera would also mean photos are geotagged -- a feature photo-sharing site Flickr and Google's Picasa offer its users.

With many mobile phone users preferring a small, pocketable device just for calls and SMS, an iPhone Nano would be a welcome addition combining a small handset and music player.

iPhone and iPod Touch applications
Apple is due to release its development platform for the iPhone in February, so we're bound to see a tonne of third-party apps for things like uploading photos Flickr, making calls over Skype, IM-ing friends on Yahoo Messenger, file-sharing using BitTorrent and a lot more iPhone games (although we're unsure of the limits placed on developers of iPhone applications). If you're too impatient, though, you've probably already hacked your iPhone or iPod Touch for running these home-brew apps. Still, we reckon Jobs will give us a glance at some fancy iPhone apps at Macworld.

An actual Apple TV
We weren't terribly impressed with the Apple TV launched last year, but if it integrated better with iPods, could stream HD downloads, had a HD tuner, PVR functionality and built into something like Apple's stunning Cinema Display, we'd be happy viewers.

No major change to iPods
In terms of iPod competition, SanDisk upped the ante at CES by increasing its View flash-based music player to 32GB. iPod announcements generally happen pre-Christmas, however, so it's unlikely we'll see a major refresh of the players next week. Perhaps some updated firmware to do some groovy new things will come with the next version of iTunes, though.

What do you think Apple will launch?
What do you think Apple's infamous "one more thing" will be? When do you predict we'll see the iPhone in Australia? Which carrier will get the iPhone in Oz? According to a recent poll, 45 percent of CNET.com.au readers are placing their bets on 3 Mobile, followed by 19 percent of readers backing Telstra.

Leave your comments below or in our in the Macworld 2008 pedictions forum thread.

 

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