Monday, August 28, 2006

This week in Apple

I am expecting Apple to announce Merom (Intel Core 2 Duo) - based systems within 3 weeks at maximum. Possibly as soon as tomorrow. Intel officially announced the chips today, and several manufacturers have already announced their Merom notebooks.

Why is there a windows of several weeks in my guess? Well, it's a balancing act. If Apple has enough chips on-hand to start launching systems (a week's delay or so at most), then they'll announce. They really don't like to have a dry product pipeline, so they probably won't announce anything early. Most of today's announcements quoted 2nd half of September ship times. Apple is probably still getting some preferential treatment from Intel, so we'll see. Apple launches are on Tuesdays, so if tomorrow morning the Apple Store has a "closed for renovations" page up then you know it's coming.

My guess: MacBook Pro updates either tomorrow or next Tuesday. Nothing major other than the chip upgrade and a Rev.B logic board. iMac updates follow within a week of the MacBook Pro, and maybe alongside it. The mini and MacBook stick with Core Duo (prices on the 32-bit chips have declined), but get speedbumped by Columbus Day. Sometime before Christmas Apple upgrades all Macs to 1GB minimum RAM.

A future revision to the MacBook and mini (probably not concurrent with the first speedbump) may add a separate graphics processor. I'm not certain of it, but as chip costs decline it's an obvious way to add performance without hurting margins.

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