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Predictions: check back tomorrow!

Predicting the future is a human obsession, but we’re not very good at it. There is a trend on books from business advice to congnitive pychology to highlight our shortcomings and suggest ways to deal with and even profit from the randomness in the world.

Few reading this blog are coming here for up-to-the-minute tech news, but I still feel compelled to resist all the research on embracing unpredictibility and make a prediction–if for no other reason just to see how I did a few hours later when all is revealed. So, without further ado, here’s what will happen today at Apple’s “let’s talk” event.

Apple makes an effort to concentrate on one thing at a time for its events. It’s a good strategy, ensuring focus from the media and customers. As a result, much talk about discontinuing iPods will not be addressed. Is there really any point to making a fanfare about discontinuing a product? Of course, the iPod continues today, it’s simply seamlessly merged with your phone.

There will be a new iPhone and as I own an iPhone 4, it is clear to me that its design is barely an improvment over the previous phone. The shape is less comfortable, and the antenna problem is real. The specs are better, and it’s a thinner, smaller, phone with a superb screen, which is great, but, aside from returning to some variation on the iPhone 3G there is little to go back to. Nope, all the changes will be the usual hardware refresh–on the inside. Faster chips and better camera will enable the phone to take advantage the real news: the new OS while keeping up with specmanship of other phones out there.

Apple believes that the bigger screens of competing phones are more like badly behaving portable tablets. I’ve seen them, and gosh they look great, but frankly, the thing is supposed to be a phone and these lovely devices just look huge. I thought we left that age; like many, I want my phone to slip in my pocket. I would be surprised, indeed, if Apple didn’t agree with me here and chose to go with more screen real estate.

Expect a 4GS. Whatever the name, expect, above all, for people to be disappointed with hardware changes of the iPhone 5–it’s only a speedbump.

Instead, expect new CEO Tim Cook to spend much more time on the real advancements of today. This is the first time that OS5 is being announced to the masses. It happens every year and every year Apple watchers forget that the world wide developers conference, WWDC, is only public because the media shows up for news. It’s not a consumer event. Only now will the results of working with developers for months be shown to the greater consuming masses. And that means iOS5 features and internet cloud integration. We’ll see a long re-hash of what close Apple watchers already know. We’ll see highlight features and demonstrations of cloud-based music (an iPod in the sky!) and integration across macs, iPads, and iPhones. We’ll see how the iPhone will have access to data not stored on it all.

Apple is not alone in finally realizing Oracle’s promise of the thin client. The new Amazon Fire tablet actually embodies this even better, but the cloud is just another name for the client-server model and it turns out that Apple’s smart phones and devices and smarter still when coupled to the internet in the sky. Expect loads of examples of why that is and how Apple’s solution is, in Tim Cook’s opinion, the way it’s done.

There may even be some exciting voice recognition improvements in iOS 5, although I still wonder asking our phones questions in public will really work. Sometimes it’s great, like in the car when you’re supposed to be driving, but screaming into your phone on a crowded New York side walk or in an airport line is bad enough when people can reasonably expect you’re communicating with another human. When they realize you’re just trying to get your phone to stop asking you to repeat yourself, that’s going to get old fast.

So, in short:

  • iPhone 5 = not really. just a speed bump
  • it’s all about iOS5
  • expect the cloud to be the big news
  • some voice recognition introductions could steal the show

Check back tomorrow. I’ll come clean on how good or bad I was at this.

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  1. admin
    October 4th, 2011 at 12:41 | #1

    The keynote is done and well, um, time to toot my own horn…pretty much called it.
    Was this too easy? Your comments welcome.

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