TV-PGDecember 18, 2001: The AtAT staff receives a divine vision of Expo goodies to come-- or needs a CAT scan, we're not sure which. Meanwhile, Apple's press invite in the Netherlands hints at a "revolutionary" new product ready for the Expo, and Adobe's own CEO admits that Photoshop for Mac OS X is still three to six months away...
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Soothing AND Precognitive (12/18/01)

So there we were at the mall (not a mall, the mall-- show some respect), drowning amid a sea of desperate shoppers and practically choking on the stench of fear. Normally we can handle the crunch of holiday shopping better than most mortal beings, but this year we let our guard down just for a second and were badly trampled by a marauding band of frothing Xbox-seekers following up on a hot tip about a new delivery at K*B Toys. As we struggled to retain consciousness, it took every bit of strength we could muster to drag our pummelled bodies cross-stream and take refuge in the first store we reached. We haven't come so close to shuffling off this mortal coil since that time we foolishly attempted to watch a whole episode of "The Love Boat: The Next Wave."

As we caught our breath and shook hands with Mr. Disorientation, we suddenly realized that we were staring at a beautiful crystal ball, and as we stared deep within, it unlocked the mysteries of the universe for us. Well, okay, maybe not the mysteries of the universe, per se, but at least the mysteries of Macworld Expo-- and really, what else matters? The mystical swirling patterns deep inside seemed to whisper to us in a long-forgotten language, of which we had miraculously been granted total comprehension. Things clicked into place. All was right with the cosmos.

So here's what the crystal revealed: as we suspected, the PowerPC G5 won't be making an appearance (not for another six months, anyway), and instead, we'll get faster Power Mac G4s starting at 933 MHz and punching well past the gigahertz barrier. The long-awaited flat-panel iMac is a definite go, though the specs are fuzzy-- although we do see the nearly-as-long-awaited "iPhoto" consumer image-editing app coming along for the ride, and it looks to be sort of like Mac OS X's "Image Capture" application on steroids and dipped in a pretty iCandy coating. Speaking of Mac OS X, there was a definite vibe that January 7th would constitute the official switchover; as of that date, upon first boot, owners of all new Macs will be greeted with the pleasing contours of Aqua. As for an iBook revision to keep things on par with the new iMac, the crystal says no, but hints at an update in Tokyo. All in all, vague but satisfying.

Of course, when we finally regained our wits later on, it became all too apparent that our minds had temporarily melted with the holiday pressure and we'd actually been standing in Spencer Gifts and staring at a lava lamp for three straight hours. (The employees eventually snapped us out of it by poking us in the kidneys with broom handles at closing time.) As such, you should probably keep the source in mind when you consider the above predictions, but we can say this much: that was by far the most earnest prognosticative lava lamp we've yet to stare at while in an altered mental state-- and that's saying something.

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The Dutch Conundrum (12/18/01)

Heaven knows it's not any great risk to predict a new iMac at next month's Macworld Expo; between the fact that Apple hasn't fundamentally overhauled its consumer desktop for over two years now, the inventory-clearing iMac promotion ending on December 31st, and the reports of massive flat-panel iMac orders leaking out from one of Apple's Taiwanese manufacturing subcontractors, the oddsmakers aren't exactly calling it a "long shot." But with the latest chunk of evidence to emerge, the Vegas odds of a new iMac not being introduced are now on par with the odds that anyone as goofy-looking as Tom Green would be so mind-numbingly oblivious of his aesthetic situation as to dump Drew Barrymore. Like that would ever happen.

Um, bad example. But the incomprehensible vagaries of Hollywood personalities aside, the fact remains that every indication points to the unveiling of a new iMac in less than three weeks' time. And here's the latest dirt: apparently Apple is a little looser with the juice when it sends out press invitations over in the Netherlands. Faithful viewer Bas Jansen tipped us off to an IDG News Service article which quotes the Dutch invite as referring to Apple's upcoming consumer product as "innovative, revolutionary, and different," as well as "powerful, user-friendly, and eye-catching." Granted, those terms could describe any number of new products, but unless Apple is pulling another iPod with its use of the word "revolutionary," our money's on a spiffy new iMac.

Apple Netherlands (which we are trying very hard not to refer to as "Dutch Apple") is apparently a little nervous about having sent out such a provocative invitation; "We have already been too open, judging by the interest this is generating." What, like Apple didn't think that its more tenacious fans would jump on top of the merest hint just because it's all the way over in the Netherlands? The general manager admitted that the Dutch invitation was "more candid than those sent out in other countries," and for that, we're all grateful. Hey, can anyone find out if maybe the Apple Bulgaria invite just happened to be even more forthcoming? For all we know, it said "Flat-Panel iMac, January 7th. Be there." Now that's candid, baby!

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Just Two More Quarters (12/18/01)

Meanwhile, topping the list of long-awaited products that won't ship in January is none other than-- insert trumpet fanfare here-- the Carbonized version of Photoshop. While the web has been abuzz with reports by both beta testers and (cough) "beta testers" that the latest prerelease version of the software is both rock-solid and extremely lickable under Mac OS X, we've also heard that the product is still no further along than mid-beta, and as such, it's not shipping in three weeks, no way, no how. That's disappointing, to be sure, but heck, reality so often is. And if you don't believe us about Photoshop for Mac OS X still being a ways off, perhaps you'll believe Adobe's own CEO.

Yup, faithful viewer Stewart Woods noticed that CNET just quoted Bruce Chizen as saying that his company intends to release Photoshop 7.0 (the first Mac OS X-native version) "in the second quarter of next year." Ouch. So unless Adobe's developers suddenly go "whoops, we accidentally finished the whole project three to six months ahead of time," it sounds like we won't be tooling around with an Aquatic Photoshop until April, May, or June. On the plus side, MacMinute is saying "April," so maybe we won't be waiting for a full six months as CNET implies. In the meantime, loyal Photoshoppers will continue to boot into Mac OS 9 or brave the thorny brambles of Classic for their image-editing needs.

The only thing that gives us pause about this Q2 scenario is the recent rumor (recent as in "two scenes up") that Mac OS X will be shipping standard and default on all Macs come January 7th; if that's true, then graphic designers are going to have to make a trip to the Startup Disk panel after buying their new rigs before they can get down and dirty with the likes of Photoshop, not to mention Quark Xpress. That's not inconceivable, but it does sound a little wonky. And as for the Photoshop release date, well, we've certainly got no reason to doubt Chizen's word-- the guy runs the frickin' company, after all.

Our Conspiracy Sense is tingling; could the Adobe-Apple rift be in full effect, with Adobe continuing to drag its porting feet on purpose (being miffed over Final Cut Pro nuking Premiere sales and the rumored introduction of iPhoto) just as Apple tries to force Adobe's hand by making Mac OS X the standard ahead of schedule? Okay, so it's not all that likely... but it sure gets the blood pumpin' on a chilly December day.

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