Macworld 2008 San Francisco

Every culture has its holidays: the oscars, fashion week, March madness or the world series. For Mac lovers, each December brings a frenzy of rumored speculation about our Superbowl, the Macworld Conference and Expo which takes place each January in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. This year’s conference takes place from January 14-18, beginning with Steve Jobs’ keynote presentation at 9:00am, Tuesday, January 15.

The “Stevenote,” History of Macworld Announcements

Steve Jobs is widely regarded for his “reality distortion field” and this is in full force at each Macworld. Although certainly not all of Steve’s “insanely great” products have been launched or announced at MacWorld, the list is worth noting:
  • 1997: Microsoft Office 98, Steve Jobs “interim CEO” (iCEO)
  • 2000: Preview of Mac OS X, Steve Jobs returns as CEO
  • 2001: “TiBook” G4 introduced: an ultra-thin, metallic laptop
  • 2002: First major redesign of iMac with “Sunflower” iMac G4, iPhoto
  • 2003: Debut of Safari, iLife suite with iPhoto 2, Keynote software
  • 2004: Introduction of new iPod Mini, iLife 04 with GarageBand
  • 2005: iWork 05 with Pages, first Mac Mini, iPod Shuffle
  • 2006: First Intel Macs: iMac, MacBook Pro, iLife 06 with iWeb
  • 2007: Apple TV, long-rumored debut of iPhone

What this year’s keynote will bring is uncertain, but the month leading up to Macworld 2008 has been a grim and sparse one for fans of the Mac rumor free-for-alls.

Apple Working Harder to Control Speculation

As the current white house has perhaps demonstrated more than any other, the control and planting of rumor can be a very effective tool, and in recent years Apple has taken this control more seriously. A careful campaign of misinformation codenamed “Asteroid” was used to flush out Apple observers and insiders alike, leading to the death of the formerly successful rumor site Think Secret. The few leaks there have been seem to have been honest gaffes by other executives, and the most fantastic rumor has gone not through the usual channels but come from CNBC of all places: as sure a sign of a corporate plant as one could hope for.

The CNBC rumor is the juiciest available as of the week before showtime: and features yet another Apple portable:

[T]he device will feature a 12-inch screen and will be 50 percent thinner–and lighter–than current versions of the MacBook Pro. He says the product will not have a hard-drive, but rely on Flash memory instead and likely retail for around $1,500.

Having famously poo-poohed the eternal rumors of an Apple cell phone last year (and instead predicting the debut of iWork ’08 and a combination Apple spreadsheet/database program that would tie into MySQL) I am definitely not one to watch on such things, but an upgraded MacBook seems much more likely, or some sort of handheld screen that would work with the Apple TV, essentially functioning as a very large and watchable remote control. What do I know, though? I’m not even going to MacWorld.

Something for the Fans at Home

Even if you cannot afford a week in San Francisco, or $1500 “platinum pass” tickets that include the keynote, Apple has streamed the festivities live for the past few years, and sometimes a local Mac store will pay for a satellite feed for us hoi polloi. As bread and circuses go, this time of year can be fun, even if the wild rumors are a fading Mac tradition…

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