Wednesday, December 14, 2005

January Action

There’s lots of new product announcement that are expected next month. Here’s a quick look:

  • Intel has confirmed that it will release its Yonah dual-core processor for notebooks in early January. Yonah will combine significantly better performance than today’s Pentium M processor with lower power consumption. The plan is for manufacturers to begin shipping Yonah-based products at the same time that Intel makes its announcement. You can expect to see both Yonah-based notebooks and small form-factor desktop PCs.

  • While not confirming the date, Intel will announce the first products based on its VIIV home entertainment platform in January. The date bandied about is just before both the Consumer Electronics Show and Macworld. There should be several VIIV-based home media center prototypes and early production models at CES.

  • As usual, Apple remains mum on what (if anything) the company plans to introduce at Macworld, but Intel’s timetable lends credence to rumors of the announcement of new iBook models. Yonah will enable Apple to make faster iBooks that use less power. However, Apple can’t risk making the Powerbooks obsolete by selling iBooks with higher performance, so we’re likely to either see iBooks with slower processors or Powerbooks announced at the same time with higher-speed Yonah chips.

  • The VIIV and Yonah launches also make Apple’s introduction of a Mac Mini-based media center more possible. However, even if this kind or product is announced, Apple won’t necessarily use the VIIV platform. Intel has been very circumspect as to whether or not Apple has committed to adopt VIIV, and Intel claims that VIIV will only support Microsoft’s Windows Media Center software.

None of this includes the dozens, if not hundreds, of new consumer electronics products and services that will be shown for the first time at CES. Personally, I expect to see a bunch of new satellite radio receivers, as that business really begins to take off. (Sirius showed a mobile video service at last year’s CES conference, and XM came back shortly later and said “We can do it too,” so I expect to see more developed versions of video over satellite radio at CES.)

By the end of January, we may have a very different playing field and set of competitors than we have today. It may be cold, but it’s going to be a very interesting month.

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