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I Still Have my Doubts About New Hardware Next Week From Apple

Now that these iOS 6 banners are making their way around the Internet, I’m reminded of why I’ve been skeptical that Apple would release new Macs during the WWDC keynote next week. I’m particularly skeptical that they’d release updates to almost the entire lineup, as many have predicted.

Apple only does about 4 of these live press keynotes a year. They like to make them count. And by that, I don’t mean that they like to jam pack them with 50 different announcements that generate tons of stories about various topics. Quite the opposite. In recent years especially, Apple has focused these events on just a handful of new products, so that there’s only one or two clear stories for the press to write about. Tons of stories either way, but since no one but a nerd like me is going to read them all, it’s best to have 10 stories about iOS 6, say, than one story about the Mac Pro, one about the iMac, one about the MacBook Air, etc.

Releasing new Macs, unless there’s some really important new hardware feature that they all have in common, doesn’t make for a good press day, in other words. It mucks up the focus and squanders the opportunity to control what the press writes. If you’ve got one shot at making the local evening news, you don’t give the editors ten different options. You want to make sure they’re all talking about the same thing all over the world.

I’m not saying there definitely won’t be any new hardware; I’m just saying that if you listen to all the hoopla surrounding the Keynote this year, you’d be expecting new Mac Pros, new iMacs, new MacBook Pros, new MacBook Airs (with retina screens), a new MacBook line that’s neither a Pro nor an Air, a new Apple Television set, and the announcement of the next iPhone that won’t ship until later this year. And that’s before you start talking about Mountain Lion and iOS.

Does anyone think it would be a good idea to announce all that at once? How long is this keynote going to be? Six hours? And what’s Apple going to do for the rest of the year, go to Maui?

And if you’re David Pogue, which one of those things makes your column next week?

If I had to bet, I’d say that 90% of the Keynote on Monday (after the customary update on market share, the Retail stores, etc.) will be devoted to Mountain Lion and iOS 6, and particularly how both of those relate to iCloud. And maybe, since it’s WWDC, and there are an awful lot of TBA sessions, some new area where developers can start writing apps, such as the AppleTV.

The demo of the new Maps feature in iOS 6 alone is going to take at least 20 minutes.

(I can totally see the live blogs and my Twitter stream, after we’re 40 minutes in, and Craig Federighi is still demoing Notification Center. “WE’VE SEEN ALL THIS BEFORE!!!!” “WHERE’S THE GOOD STUFF??!!” etc.)

Hardware just seems like a distraction. Even to spend two minutes putting up a slide saying, “hey, we’re updating all these Macs today” detracts from the more important story of where Apple is taking its two OS platforms this year. Save that for a press release.

I had guessed that Apple would have updated the Mac line THIS week, ahead of WWDC, as they have in the past, just to get that out of the way. Perhaps they’ll do it the week after this time around. I don’t know. Maybe all those Mac updates will be trickled down over the coming months.

Unless there really is a common link between all those updated Macs and whatever Apple really wants the story to be. I never put it past Cupertino to surprise me. But to me, if there isn’t that common thread, it would be a mistake to announce so much at once.