Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The new Apple netbook

Christmas is the time of the year where people think about giving. It is also the time of the year where the Apple fans speculate about receiving, in particular on what MacWorld will bring them (it is Jan 5-9).

It is hard to imaging MacWorld without any announcement. Steve Jobs likes a good surprise, just to screw up CES and have everyone in the world think MacWorld is better than CES (with just one company presenting...).

Rumors are plentiful. No Christmas season without them... So, let me join the fray. I have been pretty accurate to predict the recent Apple moves, therefore it is time to go back to missing expectations.

What is the number one issue these days? The economy. People do not have money to spend (or maybe they do, but they feel like they don't). Therefore, they have started to ditch laptops for netbooks (the very small laptops, with a cost around $500).

Steve Jobs said that Apple does not "know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk". Therefore, you would think they would definitely not announce a netbook.

Still, I think they will. Just to save Jobs' face, it will be $549 ;-)

There is a nice space between the iPhone ($199) and the cheapest MacBook ($999) and it is a sweet spot for a new device, an hybrid between the iPhone and the Mac.

My guess:
  1. it will be between half of a MacBook and double an iPhone, with wifi and a built-in camera for webcams
  2. it will have a touchscreen, like the iPhone (no touchpad)
  3. it will have a keyboard, like the MacBook Air
  4. it will have a set of default apps on the screen, little widgets like the iPhone. Just add a word processor, a spreadsheet and a presentation tool on top of what I have on the iPhone and I have everything I need.
  5. it will allow the download of apps from the App Store, no external installations. It will be another closed and controlled environment. Actually, iPhone apps will work natively because the OS will be the same. Developers will just have to adapt them to a new screen - if they want to - or they will run as separate small windows on the screen.
  6. MobileMe will be pivotal for the syncing of all your data with the rest of your world (your Mac at home ;-)
The main risk for Apple is to cannibalize the MacBook (I do not see issues with the iPhone because it serves a different purpose). Still, with a closed environment and a limited set of apps, I do no not see that risk (or, at least, it is limited).

Wishful thinking. Probably :-) But it was worth a try...

UPDATE: apparently, Steve Jobs is not giving the keynote at MacWorld. That sounds like a "we got nothing new to show" message. If I can bet, they are pushing it out to a new Apple-only (not IDG) event in Spring or they might just skip it and go to Apple Dev Conference in June. Too bad, I wanted a netbook in January ;-)