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Macworld: How Far Beyond?

What to expect from this year's big show By Dave Nagel
I'm just about ready to burst. With Macworld so close, I can almost feel its hot breath on the back of my neck, almost hear it whisper to me in a sultry voice as my neck hairs stand on end, "Sweety, this is going to be good. Oh, you are definitely going to like this. I am going to put you in a Catholic school girl uniform make you do things you've never done before, you hot little ..." and so forth.

Well, almost, anyway.

'Count on being blown away'
A good deal of my ribald enthusiasm comes from what I already know from speaking with those who will be making announcements at the show. But a much larger portion is coming from Apple itself. Have you been to their Web site lately? Here's what it said Wednesday:

"5 days to Macworld San Francisco. Beyond the rumor sites. Way beyond."

This is both stunning and unbelievable. It's stunning because, of course, Apple never talks like this. They like to surprise us completely and offer us no expectations before Steve Jobs makes his announcements. This way, everybody leaves his keynote address with their mouths on the floor, and writers like me can go back to our computers and write about all the wonderful surprises we learned when we attended the keynote.

Not this year. This year, Apple's telling us to "count on being blown away."

All right. But this is a little unbelievable. After all, they have to be talking about hardware. We know all about their software, so there's nothing there that could blow us away. On the other hand, the "rumor sites" have done some mighty high-falootin' speculating about Apple's next-generation Macintosh lineup, so it will be pretty hard to top these rumors.

Let's review. Some have predicted an improved G4 lineup running somewhere in the low to mid GHz range. Others have predicted a G5 running between 1.2 GHz and 1.6 GHz. Here's the problem with the G5 angle: Motorola has already announced two G5 chips for embedded markets (not desktop computers), and neither one will be ready for production this year. Could they actually have a G5 chip ready to go for the desktop market running at faster clock speeds than the embedded chips that won't be ready for another year?

Frankly, I don't put a lot of faith in Motorola. I love my Macintosh--almost in a taboo way--but, let's face it, the chip has been the weakest component in our Macs for nigh going on a year now. Motorola has never promised a high-megaHertz chip this soon. But this is certainly what it's going to take to "blow me away." And to go "way beyond" what the rumor sites have predicted, Motorola will have had to have sold its CEO's soul to the devil and sacrificed half its board of directors. I really have no other insight as to how such a massive advance in clock speed could have been accomplished.

In short, my expectations are running high. (To give you an idea, I bought a G4 867 MHz box a few days ago. I haven't even taken it out of its package in anticipation of exchanging it for the next great thing Apple will release.) I just hope they can live up to the hype they're creating. If they don't, I guarantee I won't be the only one coming down hard on them.

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