No one can say with certainty what to expect from Apple in 2003 -- no one outside of the immediate vicinity of Steve Jobs's office, anyway. But we've managed to find a dozen people willing to give it their best guess. For the third consecutive year, Macworld has pulled together a panel of contributing editors, industry observers, and Mac experts to peer into their flat-panel LCD crystal balls, and tell us the answers to the following riddles:
* What will be Apple's most significant hardware product released in 2003?
* What will be the most significant Mac software product released in 2003?
* What will be the most important news to come from Apple this year?
* What will be the most significant thing to happen in the Mac market this year?
So what do our panelists foresee? A year filled with digital devices like PDAs and cell phones, ongoing migration to Mac OS X, and an increasing market share for everybody's favorite platform. We only hope folks in the immediate vicinity of Steve Jobs's office are taking notes.
David Blatner, Macworld Contributing Editor
Hardware: The Apple iPDA, based on the Palm desktop software, but combining a 5GB hard drive, built-in 2-megapixel camera, easy integration with all the i-apps, and featuring Microsoft Office v. X, Bluetooth, and voice recorder.
Software: QuarkXPress 6, which only runs in OS X. But alas, it comes too late, as many companies will switch to InDesign in 2003.
Apple News: Apple buys Xerox.
Market News: Two major PC computer manufacturers go out of business, Apple's "Switch" campaign starts to show real results, enterprise users begin to switch because of the OS X's Unix core, and Apple market share goes up to 10 percent again.
Henry Bortman, Macworld Contributing Editor
Hardware: A Mac-controlled digital-video recorder -- or maybe a digital photo album.
Software: A Web browser from Apple.
Apple News: Support for OS X on Intel processors.
Market News: The increased availability of Bluetooth-enabled hardware.
Christopher Breen, Macworld Contributing Editor
Hardware: Venturing out on a very shaky limb I might suggest another "I" device. The iPhone? The iPad?
Software: The next major iteration of OS X, with greater integration with Apple's applications, the Web, and network and personal computing devices.
Apple News: The severing of past partnerships and formation of new, unexpected business alliances.
Market News: The long shadow of OS 9 will finally fade away. By year's end, the majority of Mac users will pilot Macs running OS X.
Jim Dalrymple, News Director, MacCentral.com
Hardware: Apple's most significant potential hardware release will surround what processor the company decides to go with in the future.
Software: QuarkXPress for OS X.
Apple News: What the company will do with HyperTransport interconnect technology.
Market News: Apple will finally start to see an increase in market share from all sources -- education, stores, and enterprise.
Adam C. Engst, Macworld Contributing Editor
Hardware: LCDs everywhere. Prices on smaller LCDs are falling through the floor, so I'd expect to see Apple finally retire the CRT for good in 2003. Plus, there are much-higher-resolution LCD monitors coming on the market that could give us 23-inch Cinema Displays with 3,600-by-2,400-pixel resolution. But full support for resolution independence will be important at that point, or else toolbar icons could be minuscule.
Software: It might be too early, but I think Apple will be building some peer-to-peer networking technologies into Mac OS X. Then, instead of having a central file server, you could have each machine on a network contributing disk space to decentralized file store. You would no longer care where a file was, since all public files would seem to be local and would be gathered by Mac OS X from wherever on the network they actually were located. Plus, such technology could provide a way of backing up data invisibly in the background to this network storage area.
Apple News: Look for Apple to increase support for wireless technologies in Macs in 2003. I expect to see AirPort cards and base stations that support 802.11b, 802.11a, and perhaps even 802.11g. Apple might even build Bluetooth support onto every Macintosh motherboard to eliminate cables, and that might allow them to switch to wireless keyboards and mice.
Market News: Let's go for broke and call 2003 as the year that Apple releases a cell phone, perhaps on their own or perhaps in conjunction with another manufacturer. Why bother? Cell phone interfaces are generally lousy, many don't work well with the Mac in terms of transferring data or acting as a conduit for Internet access, and people are willing to buy new expensive cell phones that offer some interesting combination of features or form factor.
Glenn Fleishman, Columnist, Seattle Times
Hardware: A quad-processor Power Mac and Xserve with 2GHz PowerPC processors.
Software: iHub, a program that offers workflow tools for managing all kinds of digital inputs and outputs, from scanners, DV camcorders, and digital cameras to ink-jet printers, digital video recorders, Web galleries, and other formats, replacing several stand-alone, nonintegrated programs.
Apple News: Apple's commitment to processors other than those from Motorola powering Macintosh systems, while still not opening the OS to commodity hardware.
Market News: The improvements for enterprise support in OS X 10.2 will cause an enormous increase in sales, especially of Titanium PowerBooks, to previously untouchable corporations.
Bruce Fraser, Macworld Contributing Editor
Hardware: G5-powered Macs -- but not in early 2003.
Software: I'm under NDA (but it will have something to do with processing pixels).
Apple News: The existence of a well-documented OS X developers' kit for peripherals vendors.
Market News: Macs that can't boot from OS 9.
Shawn King, Host, "Your Mac Life"
Hardware: Upgraded and redesigned Power Mac towers. They'll have a different look and a whole new motherboard.
Software: It will be a series of product upgrades -- Final Cut Pro 4, iTunes 4, iMovie 3, and so forth that will continue to extend Apple's industry lead in those sectors.
Apple News: Profit, profit, profit. The Apple Stores will start making buckets of money and Apple will look healthier across the board. Wall Street will still ignore the company, though.
Market News: All of the above.
Ted Landau, Macworld Contributing Editor
Hardware: I'm counting on a new digital peripheral from Apple this year (maybe more than one). Either a much-enhanced iPod, or something totally new (perhaps a device that works with Apple's Inkwell software). In second place is the arrival of a G5 Mac. At the very least, there should be some new motherboard designs that help justify why Apple gave up on OS 9 booting.
Software: I expect Apple to release a much-enhanced AppleWorks and OS X 10.3. Both of these are at the top of my list. I'm also hopeful that QuarkXPress for OS X makes it out the door in 2003.
Apple News: Apple's "Switch" ads and other attempts to increase its market share finally pay off: Apple's market share will noticeably increase. OS X adoption also accelerates.
Market News: Same as the Apple news.
Tom Negrino, Macworld Contributing Editor
Hardware: More consumer gear: either a Tivo- or ReplayTV-like digital video recorder that lets you use your Mac as outboard storage, or an Apple-branded handheld that combines the functions of an iPod, cell phone, and PDA -- possibly both, in partnership with other companies, such as Phillips and Sony Ericsson.
Software: QuarkXPress for OS X. Toward the end of the year, possibly Microsoft Office 11.
Apple News: I have no good answer here.
Market News: OS X will become the platform of choice for people and companies looking for an alternative to the Microsoft hegemony, especially larger companies that didn't get on board the new Microsoft forced-upgrades licensing plans that took effect last fall. As those companies that chose not to upgrade from Office 97 have to replace those desktops, they'll look increasingly to OS X as a credible alternative on both the desktop-application side and in the server arena.
Stephan Somogyi, Macworld Contributing Editor
Hardware: Most impressive Macintosh hardware will be if Apple ships something with an IBM 970 in it. I do, however, have high hopes for more digital-hub hardware, something with the coolness of the iPod but in a new genre. Perhaps an Apple personal video recorder? An Apple PDA looks more likely with the release of the Dell Axim, though it's unclear to me whether Apple would take the iPod in the direction of a PDA or whether it'd want a stand-alone device.
Software: With the growing acceptance of OS X as a Unix platform, I expect to see more developers looking at the Mac as a platform in general, so we might see completely new apps appearing. Some of the more interesting growth in the Mac market is in the enterprise space with the apparent success of Xserve.
Apple News: Sustained profitability plus growth would be good.
Market News: Market-share growth beyond 4 to 5 percent worldwide, if Apple can pull it off. In addition, Apple needs to grow the OS X-install base within the overall Mac market. Going past, say, the 50 percent mark would be quite noteworthy.
Franklin N. Tessler, Macworld Contributing Editor
Hardware: I think that we'll see another very cool "digital lifestyle" device, perhaps a PDA and cell phone combo that syncs really nicely with the Mac.
Software: An OS X version of QuarkXPress.
Apple News: One of Apple's top three executives will leave the company.
Market News: Market share will show some growth late in the year.