In a few days, we will find out who has the best record of predictions when Tim Cook and Co. take the stage for the WWDC keynote. The guys at Cult of Mac have listed their predictions, but like any person, I feel the need to put my own two cents in. I’ve re-jiggered their list as it is pretty comprehensive given the rumors that are out in the ether.
Ivy Bridge Macs and a refresh of the mac lineup: It is a certainty. They have waited way past any refresh cycle and have to be seeing purchases drop off sharply as people wait for the refresh. The only question is when. Do you wait for Mountain Lion to be released or not? I say they will. There is no reason to release new systems that will have to be upgraded a month later. So Mountain Lion and new Macs released end of June.
USB 3.0 Coming to Macs: If Ivy Bridge is a reality so is USB 3.0. It has been well known (although it seems many talking heads didn’t know) that Apple would support it when it was natively supported on the chipset.
iOS 6: This is another given. One of the few certainties of WWDC is that a new version of iOS will be released. CofM has a great write up of their iOS predictions so go read it.
iCloud Upgrade: I don’t know why they label it as “Probably Happening.” iCloud is the centerpiece of integration to the Apple World and its debut last year left something to be desired. Expect more cross-platform syncing and OSX application access of files (iWork access of files in app on OSX). They have to know how much of a kludge going to a web site to upload and download files is. I want them to give me a reason to upgrade and use more storage space. In its current form, I can’t understand why anyone would need it.
Retina Displays on the Mac: I say probably because it makes sense on the smaller end of the screen scale and less so when you get into the 27” end. When comparing the screen on my 2010 11” MacBook Air to the new iPad, it just looks disappointing. Conversely, my 27” iMac looks great. And the larger the screen, the harder to manufacture defect free, and more graphics horsepower needed to power it. So the prediction is: Retina class 11” to 15” screens, the 17” and higher stay the same. Update: Seems there may be confirmation of Retina Displays coming from the App Store.
Slimmer MacBook Pros: I’m filing this under probably because while I believe there will be a redesign, and the optical drive is gone, it won’t be the drastic almost MacBook Air like redesign that everyone is thinking. I guess you could consider this a cop-out but it is what it is.
The Mac Pro gets a stay of execution: I give this one a 30% chance of occurring. It is hard to believe that they would salvage a product line that they have allowed to languish. With Ivy Bridge and Thunderbolt, the iMac could take over a good portion of previous Mac Pro sales. I think with the low sales it has and the great expense of custom designing a motherboard that large makes it cost ineffective.
Apple TV Gets Supercharged: I wanted this one to be higher, but the more I thought about it, the more it seems like it won’t happen. If you bring apps to the Apple TV, how are you going to control them? And if you are going to use the iPad as some sort of remote, why do that when you have AirPlay. I think the more likely scenario is there will be a limited app framework for content providers to make their own apps, such as the awesome TWiT network.
Entry-Level MacBook Pro: Why would you kill the plastic MacBook, super popular in the Education market, and then slide a MacBook Pro into that space. If you are keeping this around for optical drive holdouts, they are probably not going to buy a low-end spec’d 13 incher. This will also make the product line more confusing, not happening.
Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 External Optical Drive: I’ll file this one under not happening. Why? There is absolutely no point to this. The current external superdrive fits this role. There is no need to upgrade the connection, as an optical drive can’t saturate a USB 2.0 connection. On top of that, USB 3.0 and 2.0 are backwards co
mpatible. I think people feel that Apple has to do this to validate Thunderbolt, but Thunderbolt is overkill of an optical drive.
Apple HDTV, iPanel, etc.: There is no way this is going to happen. Should they actually release this (I still lean more to the no side of things) it would be worthy of its own keynote and event. Apple wouldn’t spoil such an awesome opportunity.
iPad Mini, Nano, etc.: I just cannot see this happening. Apple likes simplicity of their product lines and the iPad lines already have too many SKU’s.
iPhone 5: This will be its own event, another case of why miss out on the PR opportunity.
We’ll see on Monday afternoon what my score is. I’m hoping for at least a C.