So, we’re just a matter of days away from MacWorld, and when I’d traditionally be writing my “What’s Steve got up his Sleeve” post, I’m instead wondering just what it means that Phil schiller will be giving the keynote presentation instead of Steve, and that next year, there won’t even BE an Apple Keynote at MacWorld! There’s a few ways to interpret it, one is that Steve must be at death’s door. IMO not likely, to lie about his health if it really was that bad would literally be criminal, people would go jail for that! Another possibility is that Apple have nothing interesting to say so they’re sending a lackey since Jobs couldn’t be bothered giving a boring keynote. I don’t think I buy this either, Phil Schiller may not be Steve Jobs, but he’s a very big guy in Apple, I mean he’s Senior VP for World Wide Product Marketing!

What I think is much more likely is that this is the continuation of something we saw at the recent notebook event. Apple are working to dismantle the idea that Jobs IS Apple. At the notebook event Steve was more of an MC than a speaker, bringing out lots of Apple big-wigs to deliver different parts of the presentation. Having another big-wig actually run a big presentation is the next logical step. Whether or not Jobs is going anywhere any time soon, it is not in Apple’s interest for the impression that Jobs IS Apple to continue. I mean we’re almost getting to the stage where every time Jobs sneezes Apple’s stock tanks! Regardless of how well or not Steve is, that has to end because he can’t stay with Apple forever. Apple need to show that they are lead by a team who have a vision, rather than one guru without whom Apple is nothing.

So, with that out of the way, what do I think Phil will deliver for us at the keynote?

First and foremost I expect to hear a lot more about OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. I expect we’ll get confirmation that it’s Intel Only, and that Apple will promise to keep supporting Leopard for a few years so that the PowerPC people are not completely left out. I expect we’ll get a ship date, and I expect we’ll find out that actually, there are more cool features than we’d been lead to believe by Steve at last year’s WWDC.

Next, I expect we’ll see a re-launched MacMini, definitely with much beefier CPU & Graphics, almost certainly in a new environmentally friendly shell, and probably in a smaller shell with at least the option of a solid-state drive. The iMac will probably get a boost too, but not a big makeover. The big news for the iMac will probably be the adoption of the latest Intel chips.

I don’t think the iPhone will play a big part in this keynote, and I don’t think the Apple TV will either. What might also get some love is the ‘iSuites’, i.e. iLife and iWork. Rumours are that these will got all web-based. I call BS on that. They may get a small web-component to allow for easier integration with the iPhone, but they’ll remain proper desktop apps.

In short I don’t think we’re in for any big new products like the iPhone was two years ago, instead, I think we’re in for a fairly evolutionary keynote, but not a damp squid by any means.