As it has in the past, Apple Computer is creating an air of mystery around a "special event" scheduled to take place in San Francisco on Tuesday. The invitation gives few details, and the Mac maker is remaining characteristically tight-lipped about what's in store.
However, the promo for the event shows an Apple logo caught in the spotlight and carries the tagline "It's Showtime," leading experts and fans to guess that the company, which has strengthened its ties with Hollywood, is about to start offering full movie downloads via its iTunes service.
But is that what Apple users want to see? To find out what people on the street make of the upcoming announcement, we asked our Mac Views panel, made up of ordinary readers, this question: "What product do you think Apple should introduce?"
I would be most interested in seeing Apple introduce an Apple-branded, full-featured iPod/phone.Eric Burger is chief technology officer for Cantata Technology, where he oversees corporate research, intellectual property generation, and standards initiatives. He has been a Mac user for 20 years.
I hope in vain that the product is a hard drive-based home audio component that will store and play an iTunes collection, as well as allow access to Internet radio stations. It should be as easy to use as iTunes and allow for external hard drive connection for large music collections.Nicolas Martin is executive director of the Consumer Health Education Council in Indianapolis. He's owned more than 30 Macs since 1984.
I would like to see a metronome program added to the iPod. I know many musicians that have iPods and would use this feature. Currently, I have a playlist of metronome tracks that I set to repeat continuously, but this takes up space, and is a pain. Having a metronome feature, and maybe even a tuner, would be a easy addition, and would widen the iPod's appeal. Also, a built-in microphone would be nice, so one doesn't have to use the bulky iTalk attachment.Paul Walters is a drummer and a live sound/recording engineer who uses his iBook G4 for games, Wi-Fi, Web design and audio production.
Now that they've launched their Quad Xeon-based Power Macs, Leopard would be a nice introduction.
I would hope that all of their PC virtualization is completed, which I believe they've been working together with VMWare--that would be THE product that I would use. Because my office is all Wintel, it would allow me to do all my documents and spreadsheets and email on OS X, then open up a virtual window for the Windows-specific apps I need to use for work. I think this would be a huge deal, because it would open up their market significantly where it might not have been before.
For Apple, the significance of downloadable movie content is undeniable. This would make their already lucrative music download business even more profitable. I guess the shape it takes (will you be able to download content in a way in which you can make a DVD to watch on a big screen, will it be only an iPod version, etc.) will determine the excitement level of this product for me.Dave Tainer is an IT director in New York City and an adjunct professor in computer science at DePaul University in Chicago. His expertise, besides IT strategy, is in human-computer interaction.
What I would love to see would be an Apple set-top box (call it an "iBox") that plays music and movies through a home entertainment center. Ideally, this iBox should have a Front Row interface, a built-in hard drive to store media and provide DVR functionality, and wireless connectivity via Airport. Using Airport, the iBox could connect to the iTunes Store to purchase music and movies directly and then store them to the hard drive. It should also connect to other Macs or Windows PCs on the same network to share media and DVR recordings over the wireless connection. A separate iBox "remote" that had no hard drive could then reside at another TV in the house, for viewing content only.
I would personally place the chance of Apple announcing set-top box tomorrow less than 50 percent, but you never know!Justin Powell is a New Jersey-based freelance Web designer who uses Macs as his main computers.
Given the title "It's Showtime" I can't imagine it being anything other than the movie service we've all seen the rumors of, particularly in light of Amazon's Unbox (whose name, incidentally, is horrible). I'd expect new iPods as well with larger screens, increased capacity, and/or better video-out options.
What Apple is really missing, however, is a HTPC (home-theater PC). Many looked at the Mini and hoped it'd fit the bill as the center of a home entertainment center with its great form factor, but Front Row and the video in/out options were insufficient. Apple can and should blow away Windows Media Center with appropriate hardware, a simple front end (a vastly improved Front Row, I'd guess, perhaps as part with Leopard). A set-top box or headless model to fit in between the Mini and Mac Pro would be nice, but I don't see them offering an alternative to the iMac for awhile, if ever.
The rumored iPhone would be nice too, so long as it's not too big (I value size over unnecessary features).Chris Lawrence is the CIO for Clients & Profits, a maker of software for ad agencies based in Oceanside, Calif.
Well, personally, i think Apple should introduce the iPhone, which should have video capabilities, and also integration with iTunes. And i think they should also do some update to the iPod line, because iPhone would never replace the iPod, I think--already rumors are saying it might be pricey.
I would also like to see new software implementations for the existing iPod models.Youssef Baba is a high school student in Lebanon who describes himself as being in the Apple-Google-Mozilla bloc.
Apple needs to introduce a new iPod and Nano to keep up with the competition and build momentum for the Christmas season. A slightly larger iPod with a screen covering the whole side for playing movies, a new interface would be needed. A wireless connection should be added. The Nano needs larger storage and be more durable. Wireless would be great.
Movie downloading would require a new iTunes software as well as possibly a BitTorrent methodology to ease downloading of movies.
Airport Express should be updated to stream movies to TVs and other screens or computers.Peter Rogers is a chef-manager who has been working on computers since high school and who has always had an Apple machine.
As Apple continues to make the Macintosh the center of its users' digital lives, it needs to focus on the living room. While the Mac Mini is a nice machine, it is underpowered for many users, and most families don't need two computers. Moreover, the living room TV is not ideal for surfing the Web or reading e-mail. It is, however, ideal for watching movies (or TV shows or music videos).
I think the ideal product would be a next generation Airport Express that featured streaming video in addition to the audio already offered. The device should use UWB or a similar broadband format and be encrypted to keep the studios happy. Output should be via HDMI, DVI or component to support a wide range of televisions...Of course, this should be accompanied by higher-quality downloads from iTunes (videos, movies, etc.) as the current resolution will look bloody awful on an HDTV...Nick Frollini is a freelance business consultant focusing on technology commercialization and is an adjunct professor in the business school at Case Western Reserve University.
It would be great to have an iMovies site, and it would be greatly enhanced if Blu-ray were available together with ultra Wi-Fi.William C. Hogan is a retired marketing executive and Mac user since 1984 who lives in Vermont.
What I'd like to see is an expansion of the iTunes store to include hi-def content. Then with the announcement of the much-anticipated iTunes movie service, they would also include HD movies for a premium price. This would lead to a future release of a true Apple media center with PVR and HDTV functions.David Oei works on a Mac at an Internet market research company where he designs micro Web sites and packaging.
What product do I think Apple should introduce? A 17-inch laptop with the same stuff on it and just as fast but costing three-quarters less.
Every time they come up with a new iPod, everyone has to go and buy the new one and throw out the old. How about just an announcement of some inexpensive software that will run on an old iPod and do wonders?David Gries is associate dean for undergraduate programs at Cornell University's College of Engineering.
I'd love to see Apple introduce a Mac Mini with TiVo capabilities built in and easy connections for addition to a home- theater unit. The touch-screen, full-face video iPod would be a great addition, especially if its introduction pushed down the price point of the 5G-style iPods (as happened with the supersized iMacs).Jeff Edsell works on Macs as a Web and print designer, and as a desktop publisher before that. He's been a regular Mac user for about 15 years.
I would love to see Front Row become more useful. Apple is supposed to be the hub of our digital life--and it is, to a limited way. It can be so much more with a bit more offered. Let's hope we see more of this, starting tomorrow.Kimberlee Keeline is a San Diego-based graduate student/teacher in English Literature and a writer/Web designer.
I think that Apple should reengineer the Mac mini in a similar form factor, but release it as a true digital media hub (i.e., a TiVo-like product that integrates TV, HDTV, DVR and the Front Row apps).Damon Osborne is an assistant professor of education and coordinator for online curriculum development at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Apple should introduce something that will reinvigorate the iPod...either the wide-screen/touch-screen true-video iPod or the iPhone.
iTunes movie downloads are nice, but watching them on a 4:3 iPod 5GB is not so nice.
We do need a bigger device (than the current iPod) for movies, but I'm not sure I'd buy one just for the plane. Apple might be in a bit of a pickle here. Perhaps they will focus on the MacBook as the movie device, and leave the iPod as it is.Jason Pratt of Austin, Texas, is a recent Mac switcher (2004) and a software industry veteran.
Personally, I'm still waiting for the Home Theater Mac.Silicon Valley-based Brooks Graham is Veritas Software veteran who now splits his his time between an early-phase Silicon Valley start-up and working in post-production for local independent film projects.
I think Apple should introduce a movie service and a refresh of their entire iPod line.Chalmers Bay McLaughlin is at the Mason School of Business, College of William and Mary.
I personally feel that Apple needs to update a fair amount of its product line at the moment. The iPods are old, MacBook Pros need updating and MacBook also needs some fixing.
However, with the "It's Showtime" poster released by Apple, one can expect one obvious thing: a movie download service that will either allow you to download the movies using P2P with other iTunes users or allow you to stream the movies online for a certain fee.Muhammad Atif is a London-based high school student who bought his first Apple machine in October 2005.
The Mac Views panel is being brought together by CNET News.com to get feedback from people on the street on the latest happenings at Apple Computer, whether it's a battery recall or plans for the next iPod.
We're looking for a range of perspectives--from Mac fans to business users to mobile music lovers.
Interested in joining the panel pool? Here's how it works:
Whenever key Apple news breaks, we'll send an e-mail to contributors for their response. Sometimes, we'll ask a yes/no question and use the results as a simple poll. Other times, we'll look for more in-depth feedback on Mac or iPod current events. It doesn't matter whether you send us two pages or two sentences--we value all your comments. And if you don't have an opinion on a particular story, or you don't have time to respond, that's good too.
The feedback will often reach our readers. Our writers may quote panel remarks in stories. Or we may pull together comments--your 2 cents--in an article of their own. Occasionally, we'll ask contributors to take part in a weekly podcast, to discuss their views with CNET News.com editors and industry experts.
Take a look at our panel on Microsoft's Windows Vista, to get an idea of how our readers participate.
We want to know what our readers think, as Apple switches over to Intel chips and as Microsoft and others gear up to challenge iPod and iTunes. If you haven't signed up yet, send us an e-mail to email@example.com.
Design: Gautama Swamy
Production: Kristina Wood
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