My Non-Predictions About the Apple Event: How’d I Do?

By  |  Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Yesterday, I explained that I’ve sworn off predictions about Apple events. And then I outlined some…well, scenarios, if you will, about what might happen. I promised to get back to you after all was known. And here I am. What follows is my story from yesterday–it’s all verbatim, except for a new WHAT HAPPENED footnote for each item in which I attempt to reconcile my scenario with reality as it turned out. (Executive summary: I got some things more or less right, and many things either slightly or completely wrong, including some biggies.)

Okay, let’s recap and review:

First of all, I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that the event will begin with Steve Jobs entering the room and rolling off some impressive stats about Mac sales in general and MacBook sales in particular. He’ll likely say something about Mac sales shifting more decisively to mobile more quickly than the industry as a whole. [90% likelihood of happening] [WHAT HAPPENED: Steve did enter the room. But then he introduced Apple COO Tim Cook, who did the traditional rattling off of sales numbers which Steve usually handles.]

Unless someone other than Steve does this Stevenote. [.000000001%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Steve did do the keynote, but with guest stars. Not unusual, though Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive did perhaps a bit more of the heavy lifting than usual.]

No, it’ll be Steve. [99.999999999%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Steve presided.]

I’m thinking he’ll then say that he’s pleased to tell us that Apple is replacing its entire mobile line with new models. [70%] [WHAT HAPPENED: There were brand-new 15-inch MacBook Pros and MacBooks, but the 17-inch MacBook Pro and white MacBook stayed in the lineup.]

At some point in here, he may throw in a bit of mobile news that isn’t a new notebook. Improvements to MobileMe, maybe? [40%] [No new mobile news that wasn’t about a notebook. Unless you count a new desktop monitor as a mobile announcement. And that didn’t come until later.]

On to the new MacBooks. Starting with a new MacBook Air that really isn’t all that new–but which has a new Intel CPU and larger hard drive options. And either better specs at the existing price or comparable specs to the current one for $100-$200 less. [70%] [WHAT HAPPENED: A MacBook Air was unveiled, although not until later in the presentation. It has bigger hard drives, better graphics, and faster memory, but the same CPU as before.]

Next, a new MacBook Pro. It’ll dump the aging current industrial design in favor of something that looks closer to an aluminum-clad version of the current MacBook, with the sunken keyboard, latchless case, etc. [80%] [WHAT HAPPENED: The stuff I described]

It will be available in 15-inch and 17-inch versions with better CPUs, twice the RAM, and larger hard drives than the current MacBook Pros for the same as current models or $100-$200 less. [90%] [WHAT HAPPENED: The new 17-inch MacBook Pro is a very slight refresh of the old one. But both the 15- and 17-inch models boast improved specs. for the price points]

It may feature an NVidia motherboard and chipset. [Oh, I don’t know–40%?] [WHAT HAPPENED: It features an Apple motherboard, and Nvidia graphics subsystem.]

It will offer Blu-Ray as an option. [33.33333333%] [WHAT HAPPENED: No Blu-Ray]

It may be carved out of a solid brick of aluminum with lasers and water jets [this is either 0% or 100%–I can’t tell] [WHAT HAPPENED: Apple unveiled the idea of “unibody” cases carved out of a solid block of aluminum. Jonathan Ive did most of the explaining.]

Oh, and there’s a new MacBook Pro–one which essentially replaces the MacBook. It has a 13.3-inch screen and an aluminum case. It starts at $1200, $100 more than today’s 13.3-inch MacBook, but has faster CPUs, double the RAM, and bigger hard drives. It may also include discrete graphics. [65%] [WHAT HAPPENED: The 13.3-inch system is still a MacBook, not a MacBook Pro. It starts at $1299, not $1200. It has beefier specs and graphics that are much better, but still integrated.]

At this point, Steve looks like he’s wrapping up. But there’s…one more thing. [70%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Steve did the “one more thing” bit, but did it about the new MacBook.]

It’s a Mac portable at a price point you’ve never been able to get a Mac portable at. [80%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Apple did knock the price of the white MacBook down to $999, but there have been $999 Mac laptops before]

But he won’t mention that price point just yet. [90%] [WHAT HAPPENED: The white MacBook’s price was not shrouded in secrecy.]

Steve will begin talking about netbooks, saying they’re a good idea, but then pointing out all their downsides–tiny screens, cramped keyboards, weak specs. [40%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Steve mentioned netbooks only in answer to a question from the audience at the end, and said only that it was a nascent market which Apple was not ready to enter.]

He’ll say people want a bigger screen, a great keyboard, and more performance. [40%] [WHAT HAPPENED: He didn’t talk about netbook specs pro or con.]

And then he’ll introduce an all-new Mac notebook. [75%] [WHAT HAPPENED: He didn’t introduce another all-new Mac notebook–he explained that the old white one survived.]

One that might be called just the MacBook [50%] [WHAT HAPPENED: It’s called the MacBook, yes.]

Or if not, MacBook plus some new modifier. [50%] [WHAT HAPPENED: No new names emerged today–the new Macs are the MacBook and MacBook Pro.]

It will look somewhat like today’s MacBook, but at least somewhat thinner and lighter. [60%] [WHAT HAPPENED: It looks exactly like the current MacBook. It is the current MacBook.]

Most of its specs will be similar to today’s MacBooks; the basic configuration will sound somewhat skimpy, but there will be a better model and an even better one. [70%] [WHAT HAPPENED: I believe that Apple left the entry-level MacBook specs alone except for making the DVD burner, at long last, standard. There aren’t additional standard configs, but you can order custom systems with more stuff.]

It will have an Atom processor. [10%] [WHAT HAPPENED: It has Core 2 Duo]

Or maybe a dual-core Pentium. [15%] [WHAT HAPPENED: I just told you–it has Core 2 Duo]

No, let’s say a Core 2 Duo. [75%] [WHAT HAPPENED: There you go.]

It will have a 13.3-inch screen. [60%] [WHAT HAPENED: It does]

Or if not, a smaller one, but no smaller than 12 inches. [40%] [WHAT HAPPENED: No, it’s the same frickin’ MacBook as before.]

It will dump FireWire and be the first USB-only Mac in a long time. [85%] [WHAT HAPPENED: As far as I know, the $999 MacBook still has FireWire, but the $1299 one doesn’t. I am not, however, positive that you get FireWire for $999. I can’t find detailed specs for the $999 model on Apple’s Web site.]

It will not have an optical drive (Steve will recap his explanation from the MacBook Air launch at January’s Macworld Expo about why you don’t need one). If so, the machine will definitely be thinner and lighter than current Macbooks. [50%] [WHAT HAPPENED: It has a DVD burner. All the new Macs have DVD burners.]

All in all, the specs will be better than those of any netbook. Steve will recap why. [80%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Again, Steve mentioned netbooks only briefly, when asked.]

He’ll compare the new machine to a fairly pricey netbook, like one of the better-equipped configurations of the HP Mini-Note. [50%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Steve mentioned no netbooks by name.]

The price will be…$800. [85%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Wrong!]

Or a little less. [10%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Wrong!]

Or a little more. [5%] [WHAT HAPPENED: $200 more.]

Whatever the price is, the crowd will cheer and applaud. [99%] [WHAT HAPPENED: This was a subdued crowd, perhaps because events at Apple’s headquarters are usually dominared by sober, restrained journalists–it’s the ones at San Francisco’s Moscone Center that are rife with Mac partisans. Besides, who can get that excited about a $999 laptop?]

Steve will say how proud Apple is of all the new products, and he’ll thank us for our time. [99%] [WHAT HAPPENED: He did.]

Not every one of the new models will be at the Apple Store instantly, but they will all be available within two weeks. [80%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Everything except the new MacBook Air is supposedly available tomorrow; the Air is due in November.]

But there is…just one more thing. [18.5%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Earlier in the event, there was one more new product: the new 24-inch LED-backlit Cinema Display.]

I don’t know what it would be, but it will be amazing. [33%] [WHAT HAPPENED: It wasn’t amazing.]

Or just interesting and pleasing, but not amazing in any respect. [47%] [WHAT HAPPENED: That sounds about right.]

Or unimpressive. [10%] [WHAT HAPPENED: No, no, it looked pretty good.]

Steve will, once again, thank us for our time and say there are no more announcements. [100%] [WHAT HAPPENED: Steve was gracious, but he never explicitly told us there were no more announcements. as far as I can recall. It just sort of seemed to be obvious.]

But there will be a musical number by a famous person. [3%–this is a staple of iPod events, not Mac ones, right?] [WHAT HAPPENED: Nobody played music of any sort. Unless there was some recorded stuff as we exited the auditorium–I forget.]

Chances that everything I mention above will happen almost exactly as I lay it out: 5% [WHAT HAPPENED: No, I got many things either slightly or completely wrong.]

Chances that absolutely none of it will happen in any way that even faintly resembles any of the above: .03% [WHAT HAPPENED: Some of the stuff I figured would happen did inded happen.]

Chances that I’ll come back to all this stuff and compare it to what really happens tomorrow: 95% [WHAT HAPPENED: You’re reading it!]

Unless I’m so far off that it would be too painful: 5% [WHAT HAPPENED: I wouldn’t call this the greatest experience of my life as a journalist, but it’s okay.]

Chances that if you’ve read this far, you’ll leave a comment with further thoughts: 100%–I hope… [WHAT HAPPENED: It’s up to you–please say something. Anything. That isn’t insulting.]


Read more: , ,

2 Comments For This Post

  1. invariant Says:

    Not much to say about your predictions, except that they went slightly further out on a limb than the products the referenced. I think Apple is taking a little breather right now. They’re content to refine their existing product lines rather than break out in any new directions. And I can’t blame them – they’re still digesting the App Store, Mobile Me, and AppleTV 2.0. The app store is quickly becoming impossible to shop and deluged with crapware. Mobile Me…does that work yet? And AppleTV 2, well it’s great in my opinion but they aren’t having much luck convincing people of its usefulness.

    As for predictions, well my prediction is that Apple needs one more breakthrough product to really clinch the “digital lifestyle” consumer ecosystem. But figuring out exactly what that device is – now that’s the hard part. Could be a netbook, or an Apple branded television with some new kind of viewing and interaction experience, or maybe a washing machine. Hmm, an aluminum brick washing machine. In any case, I don’t think we’ll be seeing anything mind-blowing escaping the infinite loop until well into next year.

  2. Alan Says:

    This announcement was nice and makes for a nice wish list, but my MBP is still working fine (1 yo). So I’ll have to wait until at least summer before I can justify a new one (15″ MBP with the 24″ Apple Display).

    What I really want to see and I think this would really help the sell of Apple TV, is to have it go 2-way cable card ready with DVR functions (iPhone/iTouch as the remote). I don’t think it is really practical to have it built into an actual TV, but I could see Apple teaming with a current TV maker to allow the TV to be network ready and allow it to be controlled with the iPhone/iTouch.

    The TV/Apple TV remote would be an all in one app so that you can control both from a single app.

    Fingers crossed for MacWorld.