Next Tuesday Santa finally comes for the Mac faithful when Steve Jobs takes the stage for his Mac World 2008 keynote. Each year I like to make an idiot of myself by trying to predict what santa Steve will deliver for us, so, here I go again! I’m gonna start by putting my neck on the line straight away. I think the focus for this keynote will be home entertainment. I think the reports about video rentals will turn out to be correct and I think there’ll be more to it than what has been reported this week. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Apple TV got a make-over and a new lease of life. Some are even predicting that Apple will sell TVs with Apple TV built in. I’m not convinced, but it’s possible I guess.

Obviously there will be iPhone stuff. It will probably start with some bragging, then go on to show us how cool the new 1.1.3 firmware is and tell us all that it will be available for download later that day. We should also get more details about the SDK and perhaps also hear more about the next iPhone model. I don’t think the iPhone will be the focus this year and I expect to see it near the start of the keynote.

When it comes to hardware Apple already got their non-consumer announcements out of the way this week. They were either being petty and trying to steal some thunder from CES, or, they wanted to get all the ‘boring’ hardware stuff out of the way the week before so that there won’t be any distractions from the goodies we’re about to receive.

The rumours have been pretty strong that we’ll be getting an ultra-portable Mac of some sort. I’m inclined to agree. With the demise of the 12″ PowerBook Apple left an obvious hole in their product range that people have been clamouring to get filled ever since. A 15″ MacBook Pro or a 13″ MacBook simply can’t replace the 12″ PowerBook. You could argue that there are not that many people who are into really small laptops but everyone I know who is is very passionate about them, so I think there actually is a market. My conservative prediction is that there will be a small” MacBook Pro announced. My totally unconservative prediction (aka hope) is that we’ll get a Star-Trek-like pad instead. Something like a big iPod Touch, say about A5 size. This thing would then somehow sync with your main Mac so you can take documents with you and work on them and then have that work synced back when you get home. Sure, I’m being wildly optimistic here, but to me it seems like a logical next-step for Apple’s multi-touch product line.

As for software, I don’t expect to hear much other than a new iTunes version and new iPhone & iPod firmwares.

I do also want to mention the rather intriguing report that Apple will be setting up a press-room in Europe and streaming the keynote live to there. That implies that there will be some big news for us Europeans. It will probably be iPhone related, a list of new countries probably, but it just might be related to TV shows and movies on the iTunes store. Sure, I’ve been predicting that for years now, but I’m bound to be right SOME time … right? Actually, I hope it’s both, and that we get an iPhone date and carrier for Ireland, as well as TV shows and movies for the Irish iTunes store.

Speaking of desires, the other thing I’d really love to see is wireless syncing for the iPod Touch and iPhone. There’s only one good thing the Zune has that the iPod doesn’t and that’s wireless syncing. I just love the idea of my iPod Touch syncing itself automatically as soon as it picks up my home WiFi. Should Apple release the Star-Trek-like pad then this too should sync over WiFi.

I’ll just end with a summary so I can easily tally my score after the event:

  • iTunes Movie Rentals – resulting in a new version of iTunes and new iPod firmware
  • Apple TV Revamp
  • iPhone bragging, SDK update, and new Firmware
  • A subnotebook of some kind, probably a small MacBook Pro, hopefully a tablet
  • More iTunes content for Europe – hopefully including Ireland
  • iPhone in more countries – hopefully including Ireland
  • Outside chance: wireless syncing

Tune in next week to see how wrong I was 🙂