What To Expect At MacWorld 2008

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Last year Jobs announced the beleaguered Apple TV and the mega-star iPhone, which shipped mid-year and made the company a formidable player in the smart phone space, and helped drive the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's share price above $200.

In the annual guessing-game leading up to the Macworld Expo, rumors abound as to what this year's keynote will bring Macophiles. The most prominent rumor surrounds the impending launch of an ultra-portable laptop or a tablet PC. Industry site digitimes.com revealed last month that Apple had acquired a supply of 13.3-inch LED backlit units from Taiwan. The device is also rumored to have flash-based memory and an external disk drive.

Speculators also think Jobs will unveil partnerships with Hollywood studios, namely 20th Century Fox, to bring more content to iTunes and allow 24-hour movie "rentals" online and bring GPS functionality and speedier data transmission capabilities to the iPhone. Some also predict the Apple TV will get a makeover which could help the device see the kinds of sales its Mac brothers generate.

Software giant Microsoft will be unveiling its Office 2008 for Mac at Macworld Expo, and Apple's pending release of a software developer's kit for the iPhone are sure to cause chatter as well.

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The expo isn't all Steve Jobs all the time, however.

More than 400 exhibitors are expected to have their Apple-related wares on display in San Francisco at the Macworld Expo and attendance is expected to top 50,000. Last year's expo drew a crowd of more than 40,000 attendees, according to Macworld VP Paul Kent.

In addition to launching new products, there will be two programs for developers and a pavilion featuring more than 50 new products developed for the Mac OS X. "We'll train over 5,000 professionals and Mac users this year," said Kent. "We have a host of training for every level from IT professionals to creative pros, photographers and power-users with everything from conference sessions to 2-day classes on your favorite software tools. "

There will also be a two-day session on using Macs in small business and several vendors will present Mac-based SMB and midmarket solutions, Kent said.

The launch of Microsoft's Office 2008 will be another SMB catalyst, he said. "This is a banner year for significant upgrades to key software products in the Mac space."