3 Predictions for Apple in 2007

I believe 2007 will be yet another exciting year for fans of Apple. Undoubtedly we’ll see a handful of new hardware specs announced that will set our mouths-a-salivating, and our wallets-a-weeping. I’m guessing the iPod roll-out schedule will stay on par with 2006 (so what’s that, like a new iPod announcement every 6 weeks?), putting us at like 8th generation units by Christmas time. And most certainly we’ll be inundated with more wild and crazy Apple rumors in the next 12 months. (Please, PLEASE let something happen to kill all the iPhone talk!!)

Yet Apple has a way of making announcements – whether anticipated through a known venue such as a MacWorld Expo, or a surprise media event – that blow everyone’s mind with some awesome new product, service, or feature. Three things have come to mind that I think may be plausible in the coming year. Granted, my thoughts are based on very little evidence of anything, but it’ll be interesting to see what may come to fruition and what falls flat.

ONE: A Shift in Naming Conventions
Apple’s Operating System, OS X (read, Ten) has historically taken-on code names based on Cats. Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, what may be next? I feel like the next OS upgrade announcement will be lacking a Cat name, and will go in some new direction. I mean, truly, what decent cat names are left? Andean Mountain Cat. Flat Headed Cat. Kodkod. Maybe Margay or Ocelot? Ok, so I’m being a bit silly – they could still roll with Bobcat, Cougar, Lynx, or some other variation, but I doubt it. The cat names just feel like they’re getting long in the tooth (no pun intended).

Additionally, I think [hope] we’ve seen the last of the ‘i’ names. Obviously the iPod and iMac will hold out because of their market popularity, but nothing new will be introduced as an iProduct. (There’s not going to be an Apple iPhone!!) In fact, I wouldn’t be too surprised if application suites like iLife and iWork were migrated to another moniker. Maybe I’m going too far with those two, but oh well. Look for it – or rather, watch for the lack of iCat names coming from Apple in 2007.

TWO: Apple Touch Screens
The Newton was born before its time. There have been many a dark year (ok, at least a decade’s worth) that Apple has been absent from the touch screen market. It’s been another one of those rumors that won’t die. An Apple Tablet has to be in the works. I refuse to believe that such a product would continue to be overlooked by Steve and his people, as there’s just too much coolness waiting to be unleashed on that segment of the industry by our beloved Apple. So yes, I’m predicting that we’ll finally see what an Apple Tablet is going to look like, and will be wowed by the features and capabilities that haven’t made it to market on the Windows side of the coin. Likely we’ll see touch screen capabilities in near-future iPod releases.

Taking it a step further, I’ll be pleasantly not-too-surprised to see some of the cool Haptics technology make its way into the interface design of some of these products. If you’re not up to speed on Haptics, you may recall the viral-ish video from someplace like MIT that showed resizing of photos on screen by using your hands in a certain motion and touch sequence. Think Minority Report, but in 2007.

THREE: 10 Hour Power for MacBooks
So the 10 hours is just a number I put to it. But I believe we’ll hear an announcement – sometime in 2007 – from Apple that they’ll be moving their portable line of computers to fuel cells. We’ve been hearing about fuel cells for years now, but is sounds as if next year may be the year they make it big in the consumer market. I don’t necessarily expect to see fuel cells in 2007 Apple hardware, but I think we’ll hear something about a move to them, possibly in 2008.

Sure, this one’s probably on the outside of things, but I’m going big here. My MacBook rocks a pretty solid 3+ hours on a full battery, but I’m very ready for the day when it could run all day without a wall socket and MagSafe power cord.

What do you think we’ll see – or hear – from Apple next year? Think outside the box. Go big. But whatever you do, don’t comment with iPhone or I’ll be forced to nix your comment from the records…