The Macworld Conference and Expo officially kicks off on Monday, January 14 and concludes on Friday, the 18th. Unofficially, speculation has been in full swing for weeks as pundits, fans, technologists and analysts have weighed in with their expectations regarding the Super Bowl of Apple events.
Coverage of the conference tends to focus (for good reason) on Steve Jobs' Keynote speech. Early on Tuesday, questions regarding "what" will have been answered, and outlets will begin to dissect the announcements, heaping praise and scorn upon Apple (read: Steve Jobs) in equal measure. Those interested in a minute-by-minute "live-update" of the Keynote will have plenty of options: Engadget, Appleinsider and Macnn all provide this service, some more comprehensively than others.
In the interest of not quadruplicating that effort, Cult(ure) of Macworld will be an inside examination of the conference and expo. Features will look into the cultural zeitgeist of Macworld, and the atmosphere of the location, the events and yes, the Keynote.
As part of this, coverage will include 1) an overview of the location for those who have never attended Macworld 2) the Keynote 3) the Exhibit Hall and 4) the Conference Events.
WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW
Put simply: There's no better time to be an Apple fan than in the weeks leading up to Macworld. The World Series? Eh. The Super Bowl? Nah. The Presidential Primaries? Please. Those events can be exciting, they can be fun -- and they can at times even be important -- but enough about the Super Bowl: Macworld has all the hype of a summer blockbuster, without the presence of Michael Bay. It has all the secrecy of the Bush Administration, without the sacrifices to our civil liberties. (The first person to say "Nicholas Ciarelli would beg to differ!" is cruisin' for a bruisin'.) It has all the stylish gadgetry of CES, without all the superfluous gadgetry showcased by companies who aren't Apple. It's Christmas without the christ -- unless you count Steve Jobs, and some may. In short, it's a chance for Apple fans to bond, to have some fun speculating about what might or might not be around the corner (with the usual rag-tag assortment of naysayers in tow) and there's nothing else like it in tech.
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On Tuesday, January 8th -- less than a week before the start of Macworld '08 -- Apple announced upgrades to the Mac Pro and Xserve hardware lineup. These were substantial performance bumps, and the timing of the announcement is telling: Jobs' Keynote is going consumer, and he's making space in his presentation for products along that spectrum. Early leaks about an iTunes rental service are all but a lock with the only remaining questions involving implementation, though rumors consistently point towards a pay-per-rental service, with rentals priced between $2 and $4 and a disappointing 24-hour window of view-ability. While this may turn out to be baseless speculation and cynicism, it has the ring of truth an feels like the sort of backwards plan a studio might require -- and points to a flawed service that will struggle to gain traction, just as pay-to-own video downloads on the iTunes Store have (thus far) failed to capture the interest of consumers.
Notably absent from the Mac Pro upgrades is the inclusion of Blu-ray drives as a standard component. While this doesn't completely rule out an announcement on that front, it does put one foot in the grave, despite reports to the contrary.
Cult(ure) of Macworld will discuss the Moscone Center and the buzz leading up to Steve Jobs' Keynote presentation on Monday, January 14.