Macworld Expo: The Mac Gets Back into Business?

Opinion: Everyone is talking about Apple's drive into consumer video and iPod phones. But the real story on the show floor will be the renewal of the Mac as a business platform.

SAN FRANCISCO—The buzz is swelling in anticipation of consumer-side announcements from Steve Jobs keynote address that will kick off the annual Macworld Expo here. Will it be the iPod phone or the iTV digital media server (name change is also expected)? Only Jobs and a select cadre of Apple execs know for sure.

However, after the keynote hubbub settles and attendees wander onto the show floor, a revised sense of the Mac market may come into view. Among the booths filled with professional and consumer photo and video content creation tools and iPod gear—all expected and familiar Expo fare—will be an invasion of software and hardware solutions solidly in the small and midsize business camp.

Many industry analysts predict that Jobs will dedicate a large portion of his Jan. 9 keynote address to describing in greater detail the so-called iTV device, which he previewed in September. However, recent postings on some online Mac enthusiast sites warn Jobs may pass on the iTV media server.

A similar bifurcated prediction is seen about the iPhone, or iPod phone. The possibilities of the nature of the iPhone and its revelation keep climbing.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more of what analysts expect from Apple at the San Francisco Expo.

In addition, Mac users hope for more details of Leopard, or Mac OS X 10.5, which was introduced to developers in August at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. At the time, Jobs said the company would wait to reveal a number of its features until closer to its release, which is expected in the first half of 2007.


With Windows Vistas feature SKUs and feature set fixed, perhaps Apple will show off more of Leopard and provide a check list for PC customers who are deciding between a Windows upgrade and switching to OS X and the Macintosh.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read what eWEEK Labs has to say about Windows Vista.

In October, Apple disclosed a few more enhancements due for Leopard: Xray, a real-time application performance tool based on Sun Microsytems OpenSolaris DTrace framework; and resolution independence for displays, which decouples the resolution of OS elements, such as windows and menus, from the physical pixel density of computer screens. Neither of these features has been demonstrated to the public.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about how Apples Leopard server will support the Ruby on Rails application development environment.

Apple has also been mum on the Macs support for another interesting Sun technology: ZFS (Zettabye File System), which is included in Solaris 10. In December, a Mac site showed Leopard screen shots showing ZFS running on Leopard.

This pooled storage file system would provide a wide range of useful storage capabilities, such as intelligent management that lets users avoid many problems with partitions, provisioning and wasted bandwidth as well as built-in replication, RAID and self-healing data verification.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEK Labs review of Solaris 10. It says that "ZFS was worth the wait."

According to Think Secret, Apple will announce an new version of iWork, the companys productivity package, including a new spreadsheet application. The site says iWork 2007 will update the Keynote presentation application and Pages word-processing/layout program.

All of these programs follow a sophisticated, templated, style-sheet approach to productivity applications, making it very easy for novice users to quickly create complex, professional and effective documents. The applications are integrated and scriptable.

Ive always felt that the Keynote application is best of class in the presentation field, especially running on one of the Intel-based Mac notebooks. Users can easily animate individual elements to present data in a very powerful and emotional way that resonates with viewers. Its class from the bottom up, and you dont need to be a graphic designer.

Next Page: Vendors see upside to Mac in SMB.