The only thing about the Mac universe that you can predict with any certainty is that Steve Jobs will show up at the next Macworld Expo keynote wearing a black turtleneck. Anything beyond that is just guesswork. After all, who could have predicted 12 months ago that Apple would completely redesign its portable products, discontinue production of the G4 Cube, regain its top spot in the education market, open a line of retail stores across the United States, release and update a completely new operating system, and unveil a sleek MP3 player--all in the same year?
Nevertheless, for the second consecutive year, we've pulled together a panel of Mac experts willing to throw caution to the wind and tell us what we can expect from Apple in the months to come. We asked our panel of prognosticators four questions: What will be the most exciting hardware product to ship in 2002? What will be the most exciting software product? What will be the biggest OS X-related development in the coming year? And what will be the biggest news out of Apple?
Our panelists have made their best guesses as to what could happen in 2002. But if the next 12 months turn out to be as unpredictable as 2001, who knows--a certain CEO could show up for his next keynote dressed in plaid.
David Blatner, Macworld contributing editor
Most Exciting Hardware: I'm a software guy, not a hardware guy. But a dual-processor 1GHz machine should be around the corner, no?
Most Exciting Software: No doubt about this one--Adobe InDesign 2. In my opinion, the previous versions of InDesign were just beta versions of the real deal.
Biggest OS X News: 10.5 (or whatever they call it), in which Apple finally realizes that making the publishing market happy is one of their most important goals--and in which the publishing market realizes that it's finally time to start using OS X.
Biggest Apple News: That the Apple Macintosh has regained 10 percent market share.
Henry Bortman, Macworld contributing editor
Most Exciting Hardware: The flat-panel iMac.
Most Exciting Software: There will be two: QuarkXPress for OS X and Photoshop for OS X.
Biggest OS X News: There will be two: QuarkXPress for OS X and Photoshop for OS X.
Biggest Apple News: There will be two: QuarkXPress for OS X and Photoshop for OS X.
Christopher Breen, Macworld contributing editor
Most Exciting Hardware: The Return of the Son of the Bride of iMac--or whatever Apple decides to call the successor to its all-in-one consumer Mac. Apple will certainly deliver this computer in 2002, and it's likely to be as appealing as the original.
Most Exciting Software: OS X, again. OS X isn't finished, and each major upgrade brings Apple's next-generation OS one step closer to surpassing the Mac OS of old.
Biggest OS X News: Apple will create computers that can run only with OS X--OS 9.2 and earlier will not be an option on these models. The only way to really move the adoption of OS X forward is to force people to use it. And the only way to do that is to join the OS and Macs at the hip.
Biggest Apple News: If Apple does indeed force its customers to use OS X, that's it. The success or failure of OS X will determine Apple's future.
Adam C. Engst, Macworld contributing editor
Most Exciting Hardware: The expansion of the iPod line, including an iPod that can store and display digital photos and QuickTime movies; an in-dash docking bay for an iPod so that you can listen to MP3s in the car; an iPod with a larger hard disk and an AirPort module; a FireWire docking bay on the next iMacs to hold your iPod; and a belt clip.
Most Exciting Software: Internet Memory, a personal archiving program that tracks all your Internet traffic and indexes it for later searching and retrieval. RAM's cheap, so why waste neurons on stuff the Mac can remember for you? Internet Memory will also do intelligent analysis of your usage patterns and work to make what you do easier.
Biggest OS X News: Secret documents will be unearthed showing that OS X is actually based almost entirely on A/UX.
Biggest Apple News: Steve Jobs runs for Governor of California. And wins. And continues being CEO of Apple and Pixar in his spare time.
Jim Heid, Macworld contributing editor
Most Exciting Hardware: The one that none of us can predict--the one that will have Macworld Expo keynote attendees stomping their feet with glee and get consumers flocking to Apple stores and dealers with their wallets out. I'm hoping for a redesigned iMac, though I'd happily settle for a Power Mac G5.
Most Exciting Software: Final Cut Pro for Mac OS X.
Biggest OS X News: The arrival of native applications that address video, audio, and music producers. These are the folks who can benefit the most from OS X's multitasking and multiprocessor support--but alas, they're likely to be among the last who see native apps.
Biggest Apple News: From a business perspective, continuing profitability and a gradual increase in market share. From a technical perspective, the surmounting of the 1GHz barrier and the switch to OS X as the default OS on new Macs.
John Markoff, New York Times senior writer
Most Exciting Hardware: An Apple-designed cellular phone-PDA to integrate with Steve Jobs's digital hub strategy.
Most Exciting Software: A next-generation information-retrieval technology that will advance Sherlock and integrate even more tightly with OS X.
Biggest OS X News: An embedded version of OS X to run in the iPod 2.0 and other new Apple peripherals.
Biggest Apple News: The Apple stores will be dubbed a successful strategy.
Scholle Sawyer McFarland, Macworld contributing editor
Most Exciting Hardware: A 1GHz Mac.
Most Exciting Software: QuarkXPress and Photoshop for OS X. Then it will finally be possible for publishers to give OS X a shot, and Mac users may really move over to the new OS in force. And if we're lucky, some as of yet unforeseen products that come to us from Unix.
Biggest OS X News: The ubiquity of OS X software.
Biggest Apple News: That the Mac community has successfully completed the transition to OS X, and Apple has survived that transition.
John Rizzo, MacWindows.com publisher
Most Exciting Hardware: The revamped iMac. This should be the anticipated flat-panel model, which will end Apple's involvement with CRT displays forever. Expect an option for the DVD-R/CD-RW SuperDrive and a new look.
Most Exciting Software: A corporate networking suite for OS X that includes a virtual private networking client and authentication protocols for proxy servers that will give it complete compatibility with Windows-based business networks.
Biggest OS X News: OS X will become the default OS shipping on Macs. This will create a boom in application software development.
Biggest Apple News: The Macintosh will begin to gain market share due to the lukewarm reception of Windows XP and a growing library of business software for OS X. It won't be a huge gain, but it will be important as the mark of the beginning of a trend.
Franklin N. Tessler, Macworld contributing editor
Most Exciting Hardware: The Power Mac G5.
Most Exciting Software: Either Virtual PC for OS X or Photoshop for OS X.
Biggest OS X News: OS 10.5 will fill in almost all of the gaps in OS 10.1.1.
Biggest Apple News: Apple will close some of the stores that opened in 2001.