Thinking Through Macworld Expo Rumors and Speculation

Dan Knight and - 2003.01.02

It's already January, and the rumor sites are not bursting with Apple rumors. Here are recent ones found around the Web:

Faster G3s

Nick dePlume has been mentioning GOBI, the code name for a faster member of the PowerPC 750fx family. The 750fx, currently used in the iBook, is already designed to reach speeds of 1 GHz, but in the world of computers it's always safe to predict faster processors.

Of course, IBM has been making 1.3 GHz processors for some time, so there's no technological barrier. There is, however, a strong marketing barrier. Until the entry-level G4-based eMac, iMac, PowerBook, and Power Mac reach the 1 GHz level, it's unlikely Apple will market a 1 GHz (or even faster) G3-based machine.

We have to agree with dePlume that the future of the G3 in Apples line remains cloudy, although Dan had some encouraging things to say about the G3 and Quartz Extreme earlier this week.

That said, such a CPU could be a real hot item in the upgrade market.

EOL for 15" G4 iMac

MacOS Rumors posted a reader email from December 21 claiming that Apple was preparing to phase out the 15" flat panel iMac in favor of the wider screen 17" display, possibly adding a 19" model at the top end.

With Apple trying to get rid of the G3 iMac and pushing the 17" eMac as the entry-level consumer model, we have mixed feelings about this rumor. The 17" iMac offers more than just a larger screen; it also has a 1440 x 900 display vs. 1024 x 768 on the 15" model. That's plenty of real estate, so we don't give any credence to a 19" iMac. Anyone who needs that big a screen should simply buy a dual processor Power Mac G4.

We suspect that Apple will continue offering a 15" LCD iMac as their entry level model, making the 17" display standard on the more costly G4 iMacs. We cannot see Apple phasing the smaller iMac quite yet.

That's It?

It really is. has some interesting speculation, but no rumors per se. Our thoughts on their speculation:

  • 70% chance of some Mac using a 1 GHz G3. With the G3 iMac dropped back from 700 MHz to 600 MHz, don't expect it there, leaving the iBook as the only place Apple might use a faster G3. And with the iBook just speed bumped two months ago, we don't anticipate any changes this soon. We give this 0% probability for this month's Expo. We would welcome an 800 MHz G3 iMac.
  • 60% chance of Apple launching an ad campaign pushing OS X. Well, it depends on what they mean. Apple is already pushing OS X in Mac magazines, and the Switch campaign is definitely pushing the whole Mac package. We think it's unlikely that Apple will ever promote the OS alone via mass media; Apple has always been about the whole widget.
  • 60% change of a new mouse and keyboard. We'd both like to see Apple go wireless, add some media keys to the keyboard, and put a second button and scroll wheel on the mouse. But odds of Apple actually producing more functional input devices - the cynic within each of us pegs that probability at 20% and hopes Apple will surprise us.
  • 70% likely that portable Macs with Bluetooth and DDR memory. Sorry, we don't anticipate any new 'Books at the Expo. We do expect to see Bluetooth integrated into the next iBook and PowerBook models, but not until the March to May time frame. Further, the current G4 processor doesn't fully support the double aspect of DDR memory, so we don't anticipate Apple going to DDR memory unless it's more cost effective or there's a revised G4 that can take full advantage of it - and never on a G3 iBook.
  • 80% chance of the top-end iMac being shown at 1 GHz and that the 17" LCD will be standard on all but the low-end iMac. We'd like to go out on a limb and predict a 1 GHz iMac is almost certain. We agree that Apple going to a 17" LCD on all but the entry-level iMac makes sense.
  • 1 GHz eMac? If the iMac reaches that mark, we think it's 90% likely that the eMac will follow.
  • 60% likelihood of slightly faster Power Macs. The last revision was announced in August, so the timetable is right. It's really a question of Motorola being able to provide faster G4s in quantity. We'd say it's 90% likely that Apple will announce faster Power Macs in January (although possibly not at the Expo), although the top-end model might not actually ship until February or March.
  • 50-50 chance AppleWorks 7 will be announced and be 100% compatible with Microsoft Office files. That would be nice. That would be incredible. That would be a real kick in the teeth to Microsoft after the way they moaned about poor Office v.X sales. We'd love to see it, but although we know that Apple can do it, we don't think they're ready to make such a gutsy move against Microsoft.
  • 90% likely that Apple will stop selling LCDs smaller than 17". That's petty much a no brainer - unless Apple decided to go after the education and/or home market with a modular desktop Mac. Apple can't sell enough low-cost LCDs profitably to keep doing so. The day of the 15" Apple-branded LCD is already numbered.
  • 90% chance of QuickTime 6.1 being released with improved support for third party standards. Neither of us follows QuickTime developments too closely, but this seems reasonable.
  • 80% probable that iChat will support video conferencing among other improvements. Why not - everyone else is doing it.
  • 80% likely that many of the iApps will be updated. A safe bet.
  • 40% chance of a new Apple-branded digital device. We'd love to see an Apple-branded PDA or digital video recorder. The iPod proved that Apple can market to the masses and sell to those with money. But whether we see an iPhone, iCam, iPalm, or iVo - Jobs only knows. However, with Apple's iPod success, we think it's at least 50% likely that Apple will announce another consumer device at the Expo.
  • 90% likely that a new version of iTunes will support Rendezvous. Now that's an intriguing idea, but we wonder if Rendezvous has enough support yet for this to make sense. We think it's less than 50% probable.
  • 20% chance of a 2 GHz or faster Power Mac G5. Knowing Motorola, we'd put that at a fat zero. is being optimistic.
  • 30% odds of a hybrid cellphone/PDA from Apple. We don't think that's at all likely.
  • 40% chance of a color 30 GB iPod? Only if Apple adds PDA capabilities to the iPod and has a reason to add color.
  • 30% likely to see a G4 iBook. As noted above, we don't believe there will be any new 'Book announcements in January.
  • 50-50 chance of an Apple-branded browser. Mozilla is open source, Chimera is getting a vocal following, and this would be yet another way Apple could reduce its dependence on Microsoft. However, we don't think Mozilla is quite ready for Apple to brand, so that leaves us with an in-house project. Unlikely in light of the Sherlock developments seen in the Jaguar release. It might happen eventually, but we'd give it a 20% chance of even being shown on stage at the Expo.

In closing, we do expect to see the iMac and eMac speed bumped at the Expo, suspect a Power Mac improvement later in the month, and don't anticipate any changes to the iBook or PowerBook for another two to four months (March at the earliest, May at the latest).

We strongly suspect that Apple will update several iApps and release a new consumer device, but we can't predict what that might be. Dan has his fingers crossed for an Apple alternative to TiVo and Replay TV. Anne thinks it's more likely that Apple will team up with another company to produce a webcam or PalmOS device. Time will tell. LEM

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