Looking Out from the Inside

Tuesday, December 13

MWSF Rumor: 13" iBooks?

Echoing a rumor Apple Insider posted back in November, Think Secret is reporting that Apple is about to drop the 14" iBook in favor of a new widescreen 13" model. In this scenario the 12" PowerBook will also see the chopping block. This makes a lot of sense as it would make the overall lineup of notebooks 13" iBook, 15" PowerBook and 17" PowerBook with the possibility of a subcompact built where the current 12" iBook stands.

With all these intel laptop rumors flying about it might be time to sit down and take stock of what we have. At this point it's generally taken for true that MWSF will bring Intel based Macintoshes. The fact that Intel is introducing it's new line of laptop chips on January 6th that notion has become even more likely. This makes iBooks and PowerBooks likely but doesn't rule out the Mac mini which primarily uses iBook components.

The Case for an Intel PowerBook
It's all about power and what needs that power right now. PowerBook sales are languishing. Ever since the iBook made the jump from G3 to G4 processors it's become increasingly difficult to justify the premium of a PowerBook. It's basically become a question of whether or not you can live with the graphics hardware of the iBook, if you can then there's no reason to upgrade. If you need that power then you're forced to pay through the nose. With dual-core versions of Yonah being introduced days before the Expo it only stands to reason that the PowerBooks, being the weakest product in the line, will be the first to take advantage of this new technology. iBooks will come later using the forthcoming single-core Yonah which, according to Intel will be introduced before June.

The Case for an Intel iBook
What good is a computer if you don't have any software to run on it? iBooks are likely to be the first to receive the switch because iBook users generally don't use the big, complex applications that will be among the last to make the processor switch. Apple, of course, has had all their own applications in Universal Binary format for some time now, by the time the computers are out they'll be every bit as smooth as their PPC brethren. Not so for programs like Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and Mathematica. Those will require more than a simple recompile and may have to be rebuilt from the ground up. If Apple released Intel Powerbooks before these core applications are ready for action the customer backlash will be immediate and unrelenting. No, better to introduce a consumer line. Something to show that this chip migration isn't so hard. Something to show the analysts that this was the right decision and it's going better than could be expected. Better to introduce an iBook and leave the PowerBook until it's ready.

The Case for an Intel Mac mini
Before the Mac mini was introduced and we had something to call it, rumors flew about a new "Headless Mac." Among the proponents of this rumor was AppleInsider. Interestingly, though, they claimed that while the finished product wouldn't include it, an iPod dock was initially planned for this headless iMac. Fast forward a couple months when the Register notices that there is, indeed, an internal firewire connection that isn't used for
anything. With the subsequent introduction of Front Row and the reintroduction of a Mac mini w/ Dock rumor it's easy to see what an Intel based Mac mini might look like next to your TV.

What I don't expect to see is an Intel based iMac, and most certainly not PowerMacs. So far as I know that latter possibility hasn't even been broached by anyone. I do expect to see a laptop and I'm leaning towards an iBook but either choice would make sense so it all depends what sort of mood Steve's in that morning. The Mac mini would be another extremely likely candidate as it hasn't been updated in a while and could use a power boost if it's ever going to be able to handle HD content. My only reservation about that one is if it'll be the multi-media powerhouse complete with DVR and remote and content delivery system and everything else that's being bandied about. Of course in a month all this speculation will be moot and we'll all know. Until then I'll keep my ear to the ground.

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Heading image Courtesy of Apple

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