In the weeks running up to this year's Macworld Expo, as we've done before every previous Macworld, we were tracking a dozen or so hot rumors of new products that Jobs and company might unveil on the big stage.
Alas, when Apple senior VP Phil Schiller finally took the podium, we got a couple of software updates and a fairly yawn-worthy 17-inch MacBook Pro. Meanwhile, we found a whole bunch of cool product mock-ups on the Web, any one of which would surely have generated more buzz than the meager offerings the company actually launched at this year's show.
Here are seven of the most enticing nonexistent Apple gadgets we wish Schiller had announced. Though we never put much stock in the rumors, the buzz about a possible miniature iPhone (which many hopeful observers called the "iPhone Nano") has been pretty hard to ignore. Japanese design company Information Architects took time out to visualize what such a device might look like--and even went a step further, adding a Shuffle version of the handset that would turn your daily communications into a game of roulette.
Over in the MacRumors forums, chatter has turned to possible Apple peripheral devices.
One compelling mock-up is the iTouch keyboard, which uses a large touch screen to display a virtual keyboard and track pad on a single touch-sensitive slate. The idea, apparently, is that the user could customize it for various applications. We're not sure about this one, but it can't be any worse than those hockey-puck mice that shipped with the original iMac.
Since sometime last November, Apple fanboys and netbook fanboys have engaged in a frenzied debate over what an Apple netbook might look like.
One Flickr user posted a possible candidate on his photostream, and it doesn't look half bad.
MacBook Nano Redux
This alternate design for the MacBook Nano (from the U.K. gadget site Pocket-Lint) is a little less creative: It simply marries a thin aluminum keyboard to the edge of an iPhone. If everything here is to scale, we're not sure how a person would actually type on that keyboard.
There's something undeniably alluring about the idea of a Mac tablet; and in fact, such a thing already exists through third-party Mac refitter Axiotron.
But we suspect that the machine would look a lot cooler if Apple were to design it from the ground up. Oregon-based designer Edwin Tofslie took a whack at imagining what the finished product might look like, and it's an interesting picture.
In another take on the multifunction input device, blogger Ramin Firoozye posted this concept for a multitouch display to replace the MacBook's trackpad. It looks sort of like a cross between a MacBook and Nintendo DS.
Pushing beyond the usual rumors, the folks over at Mac|Life conjured up an even more unusual vision for mobile Macs. The Apple TriBook would include a triple-head display designed to fold out when the user opens it. Not a bad concept for road warriors who want access to more screen real estate without accepting the bulk of a larger laptop.
Alas, none of these products yet exist. In the meantime, check out the minute-by-minute notes on this year's actual Macworld Expo announcements.
You might also enjoy looking at the weird gadgets and concepts presented at this year's Computex show in Taiwan.