Handicapping the Expo keynote

I’m writing this a few hours before Steve Jobs kicks off this year’s Macworld Expo with his much anticipated keynote, and to tell you the truth, I’m all predictioned out. This is usually about the time in Expo week when I trot out spectacularly wrong predictions about what Steve Jobs has in store for us, but this year, my colleague Jason Snell beat me to the punch with a forecast so sensible that there’s no way I can add anything of value to what’s already out there. I mean, what can I predict at this point without sounding like I’m just repeating everybody else—that Steve Jobs will close Tuesday’s presentation by favoring us with a tender love ballad?

Besides, I’m not sure that I—or any of the dozens of otherpundits who’ve set their phasers to “Speculate”—posses any special insight just because a press badge happens to be dangling from around my neck. Your guesses are as good as mine—in fact, they’re probably much better.

No, it’s times like these when my thoughts wander away from the profitless game of trying to guess Apple’s every last zig and zag and toward the possibility of turning it into a much more profitable game. I speak, of course, about having a little action riding on Tuesday’s keynote. After all, what do folks like me or Snell or any of our fellow virtual-ink-stained wretches have to lose if one or all of our pre-keynote predictions fails to materialize? Precious little—maybe a few cruel taunts via e-mail or some razzing at the next staff meeting, but none of us lose our press credentials. Ah, but what if actual currency was riding on the outcome of our forecasts? What if there was the possibility of money changing hands, of fortunes being won and lost, of little Junior’s college fund disappearing on the whim of one Steve Jobs’ product announcement. Then, our guesses would become just a little bit more educated, I can tell you that.

Of course, that constitutes gambling, and unless you’re reading this blog post from the blackjack pits at the Flamingo, what I’m talking about is most definitely against the law.

So I implore you: Please use the odds I’ve calculated below for informational purposes only. If you and your friends or co-workers or mortal enemies should happen to find yourselves with some time to kill prior to Tuesday’s keynote, the following odds should be considered for entertainment purposes, not for wagering. I cannot stress that enough.

Expo product announcement odds

The highlight of every Expo keynote is the bevy of products Steve Jobs has in store for us. Place your bets on any of the following appearing during Tuesday’s keynote.

  • iTunes movie rentals: Even money
  • Apple TV software update: 5-2
  • Apple TV renamed iTV: 10-1
  • Mac subnotebook: 7-2
  • Mac sub-subnotebook: 5-1
  • Mac sub sandwich (meatless): 4-1
  • 16GB iPhone with 3G capabilities for the same price as the current iPhone: 15-1
  • Howls of protest from people who bought the iPhone in the last month if that above product actually gets announced: Off the board
  • Update to last week’s Mac Pro update: 12-1
  • The Cube 2: 16-1
  • Steve Jobs walks out on stage, looks at the crowd and says, “I got nothin’” before walking off to stunned silence: 50-1

Keynote Katchphrase Keno

When you’ve delivered as many Expo keynotes as Steve Jobs has, you’re bound to develop a few recognizable verbal tics and phrases that are as comfortable and familiar as a black mock turtleneck. In Keynote Katchphrase Keno, you and your friends mark off five squares containing phrases the Apple CEO has uttered in keynotes past. Whoever picks the most squares containing phrases that pop up during Tuesday’s keynote wins.

“Wait a minute,” you might find yourself saying. “How is this different from keynote bingo?” It is totally different. Apart from the n and the o, bingo and keno have no letters in common at all. What’s more, it’s… you see… the big difference is…

It’s just different, OK?

Keynote Keno Playing Card

“And one more thing…” “Bam!” “Wouldn’t it be great if…” “Mere Mortals” “Pretty cool, huh?”
“Would you like to see our latest TV ad?” “Would you like to see our latest TV ad again?” “It’s unbelievable!” “It’s inconceivable.” “It’s perfectly cromulent.”
“And it’s available… starting today.” “And it’s available… this spring.” “And it’s available… when we’re darn good and ready.” “Whoops.” “Whichever technician is responsible for that, you’re fired.”
“I’d like to introduce Phil Schiller.” “I am contractually obligated to introduce Phil Schiller.” “Phil—I summon thee.” “A warm round of applause for the Temptations, everybody.” “Who wants pie?”
“Alakazam!” “Can you dig it?” “The goggles! They do nothing!” “I’d like to close with a little number by Rogers and Hart.” “It’s gonna be huge.”

Guess the celebrity cameo

There’s no better way to make a great keynote even more memorable than by adding a little star power. But which celebrity might join Steve Jobs on the keynote stage Tuesday? Lay down your bets!

  • Sir Paul McCartney: 3-1
  • Ringo Starr: 5-1
  • Bono: 5-2
  • Bob Dylan (acoustic): 7-1
  • Bob Dylan (electric): 10-1
  • John Mayer: Really, Steve Jobs owes us money at that point
  • Al Gore (without Nobel Prize): 15-1
  • Al Gore (with Nobel Prize): Even Money
  • The I’m a Mac kid: 4-1
  • The “Don’t Tase Me, Bro” Kid: 16-1
  • Bill Gates, via video screen: It’s been done already

Whatever winds up happening at the keynote—and I've got an Al Gore-subnotebook-Rodgers & Hart finale parlay—you can catch all the action in our live keynote blog.

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