What to expect at ‘Back to the Mac’

The press has been summoned to Cupertino next week. A round-up of the speculation.

On Monday Oct. 18, Apple (aapl) reports the results of fiscal 2010. Two days later, with its executive team presumably still basking in the glow of another round of boffo earnings, it will host a press event on its Cupertino campus.

What's it all mean? After a half day to mull it over, here's what the press is speculating:

  • A preview of OS X 10.7, the next version of the operating system than runs Apple's line of Macintosh computers. This is a no brainer; it's printed right on the invitation, along with a big fat hint about what large cat it might be named after. Skeptics will point out, however, that nearly nine months passed between the preview and the delivery of OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Its predecessor, OS X 10.5 (Leopard), took a full 10 months to gestate.
  • Some new Macs. Probably the MacBook Air, which hasn't seen a refresh in 492 days, and perhaps the MacBook Pro (183 days). For detailed guesses about what CPUs and video chips they might use, see here.
  • New versions of iWork and iLife, Apple's software suites for work and entertainment, respectively. Neither has been updated since January 2009.

Given that Apple provided a live webcast of its last all-hands-on-deck event -- for which we had scrambled to make last-minute airplane and hotel reservations -- we'll take our chances and try to watch this one from our leafy backyard in Brooklyn.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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