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A Cold Splash of Reality (long, but read it for your own sanity...)

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
I think it's time to sit down and try to be reasonable about the hype Apple is generating over Macworld this year. I admit to being excited (ok.. i admit to almost peeing my pants when i checked apple.com this morning) but i've also been around long enough to know that hyperbole is simply Apple's style. Apple will release new hardware.. that's a given, but let's take a look at what is possible, and what is unlikely considering Apple's track record.

Here are a few 'historical' examples that spring to mind:

In May 1998, the iMac was introduced, a neat all in one G3 Mac for a reasonable price. Apple actually shut down their site for a few days, with only a cryptic message on the front likening the upcoming announcement to some of the pivotal events of the 20th century. Think about it... a new, cute, repackaged PowerMac G3 gets Apple dot com put under wraps and is compared to the Wright Brothers first flight? Sure, it was a big success, but it certainly didn't change the course of history.

More recently, Apple generated lots of hype surrounding what was described as a 'groundbreaking' new digital device. Teaser invitations were sent to the press, and Mac fans around the world waited with bated breath. And then Steve Jobs unveiled... an MP3 player. Sure, it was a really nice MP3 player, but from the buildup, people were practically expecting a pocket sized time machine.

The lesson? Apple's hype is always hype. Hype is short for Hyperbole, which is a literary term denoting dramatic exaggeration.

Now, just because we have another hype situation on our hands doesn't mean we can't glean some information from it. This is bigger hype than the iPod introduction, but arguably less than for the iMac, at least so far. So we should temper our expectations accordingly. Apple and Steve Jobs try to make even the most mundane announcements sound like something really special. iCards, in Jan 2000, was demoed as if it was something great, even though everyone, including Steve himself, knew it was just filler for a keynote without new hardware to show.

Now let's put Apple's recent teaser statements through the de-hyping engine, the anti-RDF machine, if you will. Here's the first one:

To paraphrase:
[quote] "This Macworld will be big, even by our standards"<hr></blockquote>

Ok. What are Apple's standards? The RDF/hype version says that "Every Macworld is BIG BIG BIG!" The truth is that in some keynotes one or maybe two new hardware announcements are made, and in some, there's zilch. The truth is that the biggest thing so far has pretty much always been a few evolutionary announcements, such as the G3--&gt;G4, new portable designs, etc. So, the upcoming Macworld should be about as big as that, or maybe just a little bit better. But not too much different. Faster G4's, probably. Insanely faster chips? No. New iMac with LCD? Quite possible. Dual G4s inside? No. New iBooks? Probably not, or a clockspeed increase at most. New Powerbooks? Unlikely.

Here's number two:

(paraphrasing again)
[quote]"Prepare to be blown away"<hr></blockquote>

Would they actually say "Prepare to be fairly happy"? This is marketing speak, and in marketing speak, every statement is exaggerated by several orders of magnitude. 'Blown away' is commonly used to describe the state of being reasonably satisfied. They might introduce a new digital hub device.. something like the iPod. It will be pretty cool, but many people will also be disappointed.


And for today's teaser, the one that really got me excited:

[quote]"Beyond the rumor sites. Way beyond"<hr></blockquote>

Let's put that through the de-hyping machine, and assume that the statement is exaggerated to the max. What could it really mean, then? Well, it basically means that they are going to announce something that has not been on the rumor radar. It does NOT mean that it is going to be better than the rumors. It might be hardware, or it might not. The rumor sites have been talking about fast CPUs, but this statement doesn't mean that they are going to release even faster CPUs. It could, in the worst case, be some pretty mundane new iTools which weren't dreamed up by MOSR or some other site. Also, as many have pointed out already, it almost certainly refers to the rumor sites' front pages, not to the wild speculation in the forums.


Anyway, i wrote this because it seemed that Apple's hype was being swallowed with a hefty dose of wild optimism by a lot of people here. Remember, it's hype, generated by a marketing department. If something is a 4/10, they'll hype it as 9/10. So remember to subtract that 5/10 if you want an idea of the truth.

Cheers,

robo

[ 01-02-2002: Message edited by: robo ]</p>
post #2 of 32


Robo..... I was going to say something similar . But you beat me, damn
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post #3 of 32
You're wrong buddy! This will be the baddest, biggest, most star-studded, spectacular show in the history of computers! It will be like July 4, 1776 or 'that other date' that recently happened but the inverse. It'll change our notion of computer technology and how we use them. You'll see. Yippee! I just sold my condo and will be buying Apple stock this afternnon. On Jan 8 I'll be filthy rich!
post #4 of 32
There's going to be some interesting new software and software updates as well.
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post #5 of 32
[quote]Originally posted by Outsider:
<strong>You're wrong buddy! This will be the baddest, biggest, most star-studded, spectacular show in the history of computers! It will be like July 4, 1776 or 'that other date' that recently happened but the inverse. It'll change our notion of computer technology and how we use them. You'll see. Yippee! I just sold my condo and will be buying Apple stock this afternnon. On Jan 8 I'll be filthy rich!</strong><hr></blockquote>

While I'm not buying new stock, I expect that the shares that I own will be worth significantly more this time next week.

Sure, hype is hype, but all my sources indicate that this macworld really will be big big big! I know some people who are not MacHeads but want to watch the keynote just to see "how many products are actually released". We're talking numerous on deck, and what's up in the air is which ones are ready for primetime.

Of course, we'll see next Monday! :cool:
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post #6 of 32
Great post, Robo! It should be required reading for all AI participants.
post #7 of 32
ok then, so iTools will be liable for costs .

Noboday thought about it.

A new online scheme of payment will be introduced and links to the Apple store will be in by default.
The so generated traffic to the Apple Store will be accounted for by delivering bonus points on your mac.com account and after reaching 10.000 bonus points you get a voucher worth $10 restricted to any purchases in the store.

This is beyond the rumour sites, totally off rumour, biased, unhyped and sickening.

I better go for the hype then as long as it lasts.

On the other hand, the mention of a time machine makes me rethink my statement...

[ 01-02-2002: Message edited by: Kate ]</p>
post #8 of 32
Sometimes I wonder if Apple employees themselves are transfixed by the unholy power of the RDF...the way they've advertised some "neat" but certainly not "earth-shattering" products in the past lead me to believe that basically, an LCD iMac and a couple new digital hub gizmos (hardware or otherwise) would be enough to throw Jobs and his demon-spawn into a Merton Hanks-like frenzy, doing that crazy broken-neck-chicken dance that he does.

This mornings new headline certainly grabbed my attention too, and it does give me more pause than the others, but applying Ockham's razor, it's probably much more likely we'll see a new iMac with an expansion of the digital hub thing, than it is new iMac and a G5. In the end the simpler, more obvious theories will probably be closer to what is revealed on Monday.

But you have to hand it to them, right about now we're all doing exactly what Jobs hoped we'd be doing - speculating wildly.
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post #9 of 32
Like I've said before Apple hasn't gone out of it's way to make this much hype about something before ( not this much ) so you can be fairly sure something ( or several somethings ) big will be announced.

" Way beyond the rumor sites " sounds like a direct shot at the rumor sites and we all know how much SJ loves those sites. So I have a really good feeling about this. No I don't expect a time machine or antigravity or even a terrahertz G5 ( maybe a 1.6 Ghz ) but I really don't know. But, with this much hype ( unless Apple is really stupid and loves bad feelings and PR ) you can be fairly sure something more than just an ipod is coming.
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post #10 of 32
[quote]Originally posted by robo:
<strong>Let's put that through the de-hyping machine, and assume that the statement is exaggerated to the max. What could it really mean, then? Well, it basically means that they are going to announce something that has not been on the rumor radar. It does NOT mean that it is going to be better than the rumors. </strong><hr></blockquote>

Good call Robo, as much as I hate to admit it, this scenario could be more about synergy than brute force ... as in "we'll finally break the GHz barrier, but the REAL bang will be in finally pulling all the threads together to make something much bigger than the parts" ...

And what could those threads be?

Well, if we don't get a G5 (and perhaps, Apple may not want to release a G5 if most of the attention of this expo is going to be aimed at a whole new strategy, though my gut still says there's a better than 50% chance of seeing G5's) ... we'll get a whole new media scenario ... perhaps for total media management.

Notice how MPEG-4 and Quicktime hasn't been mentioned much ... notice how MPEG-4 has been left out of Quicktime ...

We may get a whole new home total media management solution, complete with a home based server and wireless viewing ... sorta like TiVO, but going much further, especially since this time, music would almost certainly be included.

If Apple's thinking "beyond"; then that's probably the kind of beyond they're thinking of.

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post #11 of 32
While I personally don't think the G5 will be introduced @ MWSF, there is absolutely NO WAY Apple would sit on the G5 cpu for the introduction of anything.

Steve Jobs is on record as saying they will close the MHz gap(now it's GHz gap). He knows the G4 is behind Intel and AMD in both MHz and real world computing.
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post #12 of 32
A Brief Lesson in Hype...

'Hype' is NOT 'hyperbole', though it does derive from it, in part. Suggestions that SJ's "one more thing" will be a neural interface, are good examples of hyperbole (liftoff ok, then sharp left urn & kick in the afterburners).

'Hype' also derives from 'hyperventilation', which is the bulk of what goes on here. Suggestions that 'Apple MUST release a quad-G6 w/ DNA mapping, climate control, and a Superdrive for $1200 NOW or they're DOOMED!!!' are good examples of hyperventilation (huff and puff 'til you pass out or pop a brain vessel).

Apple's marketing is actually a lousy example of hype. Classic examples of marketing hype (the origin of 'hype' as we (think we) know it today) would include:

New Coke
the Euro
the Internet
the Tulip Craze
Windows
Tokyo Joe & the Pump-&-Dump Con
Dot.coms
Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's vault
Swine Flu
Intel inside
Al Gore for President
Spice Girls/Backstreet Boys/N'Sync/Bay City Rollers

There are many others.

No matter what Apple says, or how it's said, it will become the source for extreme tangents and non-sequiteurs, and for breathless over-inflation in the forums (and in this sense, yes, the entire Mac web is a rumor site). A sizeable number will get really extra-terrestrial in response to the merest statement, then blame Apple for leading them on unfairly.

If Apple had posted "We're pretty sure it won't suck", it would still get chewed to a paste, and in many cases, get molded to fit pre-existing attitudes and assumptions - simultaneously paraded as proof of Apple's brilliance/evil/cluelessness/paranoia/whatever.

The fact is, one of the hallmarks of Apple's marketing 'persona' is the LACK of hype. Sure, they try to speak well of their creations - Duuuh! But they don't lie, and they mostly don't exaggerate, either. They don't dare. The fact that they're actually trying to create excitement in anticipation of MWSF tells me that they think they have the goods to back this up.

However, don't take this to indicate that Apple's to blame for you landing hard on Pluto while the rest of us share a beer & a laugh. You pump yourselves up, you let your imagination run away with you - well, you find your own way back when you're done, 'kay?

If you r-e-e-e-l-y need to use Apple as a rorschach test, then Apple's next move is not your biggest problem.

So, to sum up:
hype n. 1 - in marketing, as a technique, the over-inflation of a product's value or significance or utility , as a way of making a lesser product seem greater than it is & thereby increasing sales dishonestly, via one or all of: exaggerated claims, emotional appeals, celebrity endorsements, imputation of magical or supernatural qulities, heavy advertising. 2 - v. to artificially inflate a product's perceived value or importance through the use of hype.
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post #13 of 32
Robo's post should be required reading for all before they post to AI.

SdC
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post #14 of 32
Originally posted by robo:
[quote]
Let's put that through the de-hyping machine, and assume that the statement is exaggerated to the max. What could it really mean, then? Well, it basically means that they are going to announce something that has not been on the rumor radar. It does NOT mean that it is going to be better than the rumors.
[..]Remember, it's hype, generated by a marketing department. If something is a 4/10, they'll hype it as 9/10. So remember to subtract that 5/10 if you want an idea of the truth.<hr></blockquote>

This hits the nail right on the head. SJ hates, absolutely hates the rumors sites, and this is just one way to tempt them to go completely crazy.

Afterwards they'll look pretty stupid with their overblown expectations
post #15 of 32
Apple could of said nothing, intead they choose to...
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post #16 of 32
Wow, a sane thread -- I'd almost given up hope that I'd find such a thing in here.

Apple is trying to get people to watch the keynote. They've moved it up a day, lengthened it, and now they're making everybody damn curious about what it'll contain. They have an industry reputation for integration, innovation and industrial design -- not necessarily bleeding edge hardware technology. Their avowed direction is the "digital hub", and closing the GHz gap. They've removed (almost) all the CRTs from their product line. The clues are all here.

What we are not likely to see is some radically new technology that nobody has ever dreamed of before. They're R&D teams are largely gone, remember? They don't have the infrastructure to build new fundamentals, so whatever they come up with is going to be built with off-the-shelf parts, packaged beautifully and integrated in some slick way. None of which is bad... its crazy how much under-utilized technology currently exists, just waiting for somebody to build things out of it.
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post #17 of 32
No insider info, but I've thought about this alot since I bought my first Mac (03/99), and I've ben watching Steve/Apple since the 70s; all this seems to me to point in the direction of my 'iMac is a tablet' idea, on which I will try to elaborate.

With OS X being a hi-power multi-user os, with Ethernet now the connectivity standard, with the explosion in processing power, and with the age-old speculative dream of an intelligent house in the backs of minds throughout the industry, with Airport wireless access being built into the 'books, and knitting together a few things from other directions, I think that we're looking at the wireless home network.

We already have the Airport cards, and the base station. These are fine for retro-fitting the concept to existing machines, but what do we need in order for every Mac to take its place in the Digital Wheel? And what's this Digital Wheel?

In reverse order, the Digital Hub is at the center (duh!) of the Digital Wheel. Just as you (will) have devices plugged into your Mac, so all your Macs will form the spokes of the Wheel, the rim representing the interconnectivity between Macs. To make this happen, every Mac needs to be Airport-READY, as in 'built in @ the factory', and every Mac home will need a Base Station.

Beyond this, what's the biggest benefit of wireless? Freedom. the freedom to sit where you want, to arrange your desk/office in a way that suits you, not your equipment; another word for this is flexibility, but we associate this kind of freedom w/ laptops. Laptops are fine for individual flexibility, but what about a family? What do we need for this piece of the puzzle?

We need a modified client/server model, and a mobile component. We already have the c/s model, in that we know Apple has implemented a 'thin-client' functionality, allowing a dumb remote terminal to access anything Quartz can display, at real-time speeds (IIRC). Which brings us to the new iMac.

A folding/retractable/integral stand which rests on a flat base - very minimalist. The base is the iMac, the frame/stand is the thin-client display. Display connects to the base via Firewire, recharging its batteries while it functions just exactly like a regular display. Disconnecting the display, it switches to thin-client mode, connecting via Airport, and shifts into 'paper mode' - vertically oriented, and in all ways acting like an electronic piece of paper. Controls along the bottom provide paging, switching (between paper mode and 'cinema mode' ie, the desktop), headphone and microphone jacks (or USB for audio+?) and a trackpad for selection, cursor/pointer controls, and stylus input.

About the size of a legal pad (that's the long one) w/ the 14.1 TFT screen, and .75-1.0 inch thick. Made for maximum rigidity & minimum weight.

So this is the iMac: a desktop computer w/ keyboard and mouse (wireless, natch) AND a portable pad that you can use for just about anything including keyboard entry. But there's one more thing: the display - this very same thin-client, e-paper screen (call it "iTab") - is available separately, for much less than an iMac.

Well that's really cool, but what are these things going to connect to on their own? Well, they'll connect to the real digital hub: the iHub, which we last saw as the Cube. Headless iMac, indeed! It is server to iTab's thin client, and well as the hub of the home network - cable/dsl router, print server, file server, quicktime server, and the muscle behind the processes for which iTab is the window, w/ a CPU one step above the other iMacs (ie, G3 iMacs/G4 hub, etc). It's also a base station. It's also the bridge between the consumer and pro lines - an extreme iMac, a conservative, low-end PowerMac, and priced squarely between ($1500).

Or, thanks to OS X, it can login on any machine where the user has a home directory. Oh, and all PowerMacs are base stations, too

So: this gives us a line-up like this:
iTab - $400
iMac - $700 'legacy' (15" CRT, G3)
iMac - $1000 'iTab'/"this-gen" CPU
iMac - $1300 17" non-iTab LCD/"this-gen" CPU
iHub - $1500 "next-gen" CPU/no display/no bays/no PCI
pMac - $1699+ "next-gen" CPU/no display
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post #18 of 32
Thread Starter 
68k? Is that you?

<img src="confused.gif" border="0">
post #19 of 32
[quote]Originally posted by shaman:
<strong> Suggestions that 'Apple MUST release a quad-G6 w/ DNA mapping, climate control, and a Superdrive for $1200 NOW or they're DOOMED!!!' are good examples of.</strong> :cool:

<strong> Classic examples of marketing hype would include:

Bay City Rollers </strong><hr></blockquote>

Hey, I know how old you are
post #20 of 32
[quote]Originally posted by smalM:
<strong>Hey, I know how old you are </strong><hr></blockquote>

Nah, I'm older than I look
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post #21 of 32
*bump*

This thread really need to be on top.

I completely agree with robo, and I must say that most people here (and in other rumor-discussions around the net) have gone completely and utterly insane!!!

I fear the hype may backfire on Apple bigtime!
post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 
An update, analyzing today's phrase. It doesn't look so mind blowing anymore. <img src="graemlins/hmmm.gif" border="0" alt="[Hmmm]" />

[quote]"A backstage pass to the future"<hr></blockquote>

This is a pretty tame statement, and after subtracting the hype factor, there isn't much left other than: 'You'll see stuff, but it will just be a technology demo.'

It sounds like some or all of the cool stuff that they will show will not be any shipping product. Otherwise the phrase would have been more along the lines of 'The future is about to begin'.

It's not necessarily bad, just not as exciting as many of us had hoped. Probably the shipping products will be evolutionary, while the so called 'mind blowing' items will be promised for one of Apple's highly mobile ETAs (ie. Summer 2003, which will become Winter 2003, which will become Fall 2004...)

Remember when Aqua was demonstrated, at MWSF 2000? That was a glimpse of the future that was reasonably close to 'mind blowing'. It took a year and a half for a 1.0 release, and two years later it's still rough. So perhaps we are looking at an announcement of technology that we might be enjoying two or three years from now.


-robo
post #23 of 32
oh no ! not a *Real* demo !
That would be sad... i have no patience
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post #24 of 32
Well said robo! There's the most sensible and realistic post I've seen about Macworld! By far!
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post #25 of 32
In May 1998, the iMac was introduced, a neat all in one G3 Mac for a reasonable price. Apple actually shut down their site for a few days, with only a cryptic message on the front likening the upcoming announcement to some of the pivotal events of the 20th century. Think about it... a new, cute, repackaged PowerMac G3 gets Apple dot com put under wraps and is compared to the Wright Brothers first flight? Sure, it was a big success, but it certainly didn't change the course of history.

I beg to differ, the iMac did indeed change the course of history.

Ok. What are Apple's standards? The RDF/hype version says that "Every Macworld is BIG BIG BIG!" The truth is that in some keynotes one or maybe two new hardware announcements are made, and in some, there's zilch. The truth is that the biggest thing so far has pretty much always been a few evolutionary announcements, such as the G3--&gt;G4, new portable designs, etc. So, the upcoming Macworld should be about as big as that, or maybe just a little bit better. But not too much different. Faster G4's, probably. Insanely faster chips? No. New iMac with LCD? Quite possible. Dual G4s inside? No. New iBooks? Probably not, or a clockspeed increase at most. New Powerbooks? Unlikely.

Apple's standards? They INVENTED the PC as we know it.

Why dehype everything. Try to assume that everything Apple introduces at MW will be to the letter.
post #26 of 32
[quote]The fact is, one of the hallmarks of Apple's marketing 'persona' is the LACK of hype. Sure, they try to speak well of their creations - Duuuh! But they don't lie, and they mostly don't exaggerate, either. They don't dare.<hr></blockquote>

That is a horrible lie.

The last product Apple released had the word "revolutionary" attached to its introduction. It's an mp3 player.

On the product's website you can see phrases like "But iPod isnt just a revolution in portability, its also a revolution in simplicity."
"...the iPod is a marvel of audio engineering wizardry."

That's not just speaking well of the product, that is unabashed hyperbole that few other companies could even begin to rival.

And that's just their newest product.
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post #27 of 32
[quote]Originally posted by groverat:
<strong>

That is a horrible lie.

The last product Apple released had the word "revolutionary" attached to its introduction. It's an mp3 player.

On the product's website you can see phrases like "But iPod isnt just a revolution in portability, its also a revolution in simplicity."
"...the iPod is a marvel of audio engineering wizardry."

That's not just speaking well of the product, that is unabashed hyperbole that few other companies could even begin to rival.

And that's just their newest product.</strong><hr></blockquote>

It has been mentioned several times in various threads that Apple said "breakthrough product" and the media translated this to "revolutionary".
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post #28 of 32
Today's phrase ("To go where not PC has gone before") is interesting because it is being interpreted in all sorts of far out ways. Sure that kind of speculation is fun, the this thread is the cold splash of reality...

- It is not about any move toward x86. The PC is definitely already there, and NeXTStep was there too.

- Talk of space-based broadband might be exciting, but Apple isn't likely to deliver that and no infrastructure company is going to be monopolized by Apple's 5% of the market!

- 64-bit processors is a fairly geeky subject, and I doubt Apple would focus on it like this. Apple wants something which will grab the attention of the non-geek hardware buyer.

- Higher clock rates this is not, PC's have clearly been going there for some time.

- There have been hybrid portable w/ docking station machines (including Apple ones).

- Stereo component and set-top box style machines already exist.

Has there ever been an LCD-based desktop all-in-one PC (besides the 20th Anniv Mac)? Perhaps that is all it is...

[ 01-04-2002: Message edited by: Programmer ]</p>
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post #29 of 32
[quote]Has there ever been an LCD-based desktop all-in-one PC (besides the 20th Anniv Mac)?<hr></blockquote>

Yes.

I am prone to think that something like the iTunes/iPod integration with Windows is the most likely thing hinted at by this particular message.

We shall see.
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post #30 of 32
Thread Starter 
[quote]"To go where no PC has gone before"<hr></blockquote>

heh. I have to admit i'm disappointed. The 'hints' are getting both very vague, and very tame, which isn't good. I think they probably didn't realize how much excitement would be generated by the first three slogans. They probably didn't put nearly as much thought into the 'beyond the rumor sites' statement as we did. It may have been just another catchy phrase the marketing dudes brainstormed up, which was taken as a carefully planted hint by us rumor-site junkies.

Or perhaps now they're deliberately trying to lower expectations... hype-induced damage control, as it were.

Going where no PC has gone before can mean absolutely ANYTHING. It could be quad 64bit G5s running at 2.5Ghz, or it could be Airport III with a 200 foot transmission radius, rather than 150 feet. Both fit. I expect it to be something in between. Lets hope it's closer to the quad-G5 idea

-robo
post #31 of 32
Robo - I have nothing against what you say, because it's your opinion. But I think the "Reality" is your reality just based on your speculation and experience. All I'm saying is that your title - "A Cold Splash of Reality" - is grandiose. I don't think you need to "Anyway, i wrote this because it seemed that Apple's hype was being swallowed with a hefty dose of wild optimism by a lot of people here." write for that motivation unless you think we're just kids and we need your guidance. Just write it because you believe it!

Now the latest rumor is dual processors for iMac's! If the Apple Store is an indication (which I would take with a grain of salt)all the products may be updated! I believe that Apple is "hyping" (and I agree with your definition), but let's judge the hyping after SJ's keynote.

When's AppleInsider's next insight?
-JD
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post #32 of 32
[quote]Originally posted by Macintosh:
<strong>I beg to differ, the iMac did indeed change the course of history.
</strong><hr></blockquote>
I concur. While I agree that some cynicism
should be given to this media hype, I think we can all plan on being impressed by what is being announced in 3 days.

Apple is a leader in the home computing arena, by my measure, and I'm sure whatever they unfold Monday will be replicated throughout the industry over the next 12 months--just like the iMac & Newton.
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