Apple Breaks With Tradition. What’s Next?

Apple didn’t bother waiting a week to roll out new Macs at
the Macworld Expo ��� the company went ahead and announced ahead of the show which starts January 15 in San Francisco.
Nothing wrong with that, just a surprise given Apple’s propensity to keep its
product plans close to the vest until Master Steve takes the stage.

The pre-announcement surely guarantees the biggest news at Macworld won’t be a
new Mac, at least not a conventional one. Rumors have flied fast and furious
that CEO Steve Jobs will unveil a subnotebook or ultralight portable at the
show. The old news of new Macs will surely be just a warm up for the packed
crowd of media and Apple acolytes on hand for Job’s keynote. I would also expect
more news on the iPod front, particularly on the content side with some new
deals announced and gushing sales figures for the iPhone.

Apple’s favorite enemy/collaborator, Microsoft, will surely
trot out an exec to talk about the new version of Office for the Mac, the first
major update since 2004. Just don’t expect it to be CEO Steve Ballmer. As far
as I know, Ballmer has never shared the stage, much less broken bread, with
Jobs. When the MS/Apple relationship was at its rockiest a few years back,
Ballmer wondered aloud whether Microsoft should still develop for the Mac. No
love lost there, so I’d be shocked to see the two Steve’s on stage. Then again,
no expected Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz to cozy
to Michael Dell on stage at Oracle OpenWorld  last year, also at Moscone. Perhaps the tech version of San
Francisco’s famed Summer of Love is approaching.

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