By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
January 3, 2008

With less than two weeks to go before Steve Jobs’ Jan. 15 keynote, analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research offers his best guess for what Apple’s (AAPL) CEO might have up his sleeve at Macworld Expo 2008. In a note to clients issued this morning, Wu predicts:

  • Blu-ray. Citing unnamed sources, Wu says that Apple will outline an HD strategy that backs Sony’s Blu-ray format over the HD-DVD standard favored by Microsoft. (Although Wu hedges his bets and suggests that Apple might also use a combo Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive.)
  • Subnotebook. Wu says Apple will re-enter the subnotebook space (nothing new there) but adds that Jobs may call the new machine the MacBook mini or MacBook slim. Any preferences?
  • Movie rentals. Wu points out that the digital movie rental deals expected to be announced at Macworld are a departure driven by necessity, and represent a new business model for Apple. “Whether these movies expire based on time and/or usage is unclear to us,” he writes, “But we do believe that rentals are a significant change in its philosophy.”
  • Speed bumps and external HDD: In the category of smaller announcements, Wu is picking up potential news related to speed bumps and or capacity bumps in current Macs and iPhones, and an external HDD storage/dock/streaming device for the Airport Extreme and the new MacBook mini/slim.
  • Apple TV. Wu sees two big shortcomings in the current product: 1. no way to connect directly to the Internet for TV and movie content and 2. lack of a TV tuner. “Our sources indicate that AAPL is working on fixing these weaknesses to make Apple TV a much stronger product,” he writes, later in 2008 or perhaps 2009, but not at Macworld 2008.
  • 3G iPhone. Coming mid to second-half 2008 at a higher price point, Wu says, allowing Apple to reposition the current iPhone as a “more mainstream” product.

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