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Apple Polishes Up for Macworld 2003

When it comes to an Apple Computer love-fest, a Macworld Conference and Expo can't be beat. Thousands of attendees are expected to descend on San Francisco next week to hear the latest news from the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker.

By the time CEO Steve Jobs takes the stage on Tuesday, the company is expected to issue ten product and partnership press statements compared to eight last year. That was when the company released its redesigned iMac. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is even returning for a special panel presentation. Woz made a brief appearance on stage in 1997 but made no remarks.

But the January show has been overshadowed by controversy and the usual rumors surrounding Apple products.

Even before announcing its lineup for this year, conference promoter IDG had trouble securing Apple at its own shows after the Framingham, Mass.-based company decided to move next summer's Macworld from New York back to Boston. IDG and Apple eventually smoothed out the wrinkles but not before Apple dropped out of Boston. Whether Apple returns to Beantown after 13 years remains to be seen.

As is the usual practice rumors about what announcements Apple will make have been running rampant. Apple usually reserves the majority of its yearly announcements to its shows propagating the rumors to increase as the event draws closer.

Over the last few days, Apple itself has not been making bold statements on its Web site about Macworld, as it did last year.

Rumors have also been light at best as Apple has apparently been cracking down hard on its leaks. Last month, former Apple contractor Jose Lopez was accused of disclosing information about redesigned Power Mac computers.

Apple did show internetnews.com some schematics of its anticipated Xserve RAID storage system, but declined to say whether it would be ready by next week after production delays pushed the release to "early 2003."

Besides the usual speed bumps to Apple's processors, topping the rumor list is the choice to stop producing the popular selling 17" iMacs in favor of a possible 19" iMac and the cheaper 15" version.

As for IBM's involvement with Apple over the PowerPC 970 chips, those models are not expected until mid-2003. And while Big Blue's semiconductors could help boost the performance of Macintoshes, longtime Mac CPU-maker Motorola does not seemed too worried about the news.

"We have a great respect for our competitors," Motorola spokesperson Amy Helm told internetnews.com. "But, we have a long standing relationship with Apple that is expected to continue well into the future."

IDC PC analyst Roger Kay says Apple should put the wow not only in its design and price performance but also in its rightful place in the server stack.

"What I would also like to see are Mac clients being treated equally as a Microsoft client and have print services and other functions more interoperable," said Kay. "The interface between Mac and Windows there is choppy as best, but there is still work to be done."

That rift between Apple and Microsoft could become a little wider considering that both companies are working on competing software lines including the recently updated iSync.

Editor's note: In a previous version, the author erroneously referenced marketing material from last year's Macworld San Francisco. We apologize for the confusion.