Latest Mac Rumors: Netbooks and New Mac Minis

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There are a number of rumors circulating about what news Apple might make at next month's Macworld expo. Last year's Macworld brought the announcement of the Macbook Air, and two years ago, it was the iPhone. So what will be the big announcement this year? Depending on who you ask, we may see an Apple netbook, an iPhone Nano, or maybe just an updated Mac Mini.

An update to the Mac Mini line is long overdue, and a Wired report is giving some credence to this rumor. It cites an anonymous Apple corporate employee who said that the Mac Mini would see an update, though gave no specific details as to what those updates may be. The Mac Mini hasn't had an update since mid-2007, despite strong sales (it is currently the number 2 bestselling desktop computer on, so an update with faster specs and an aluminum case seems almost like a no-brainer.

But Wired also notes that the updated Mac Mini is not meant to be the big announcement at the Macworld expo. Technology Business Research analyst Ezra Gottheil might have the answer. In a report today TBR stated that it expects Apple to announce a new line of netbooks to capitalize on the popularity of these smaller, less expensive laptops.

Given Steve Job's statement that Apple doesn't "know how to make a $500 machine that's not a piece of junk," the Apple netbook is predicted to be priced around $599. That would put it on the more expensive side of netbooks, but with the popularity of the Apple brand it would surely still be competitive.

Most interesting about the TBR prediction is that the proposed Apple netbook would make use of the iTunes App store for most of its software. This isn't especially surprising given the tremendous success that the App store has been, but it leads me to wonder about something that the TBR report didn't predict. If the hypothetical Apple netbook makes use of the iTunes App store, it is quite possible that it would implement a multi-touch display. Could an Apple netbook be the first Apple tablet?

Something that would have a touchscreen is an iPhone Nano--if it ever came to be. As we reported yesterday, an iDealsChina report says that Apple will soon launch a smaller, cheaper version of the iPhone.  

It's all still rumors and speculation at this point, but it makes the anticipation of next month's Macworld expo all the more exciting.

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