Let Fly The MacWorld Rumors

Steve Jobs.Everybody is gaga (links: onetwothreefour) over the ThinkSecret story: Apple to drop sub-$500 Mac bomb at Expo.
Many people in the Mac community have been agitating for a low-end ‘headless’ Mac to compete on price against cheap PCs. The rumored specs include:

1.25GHz G4 CPU
Combo drive
40 – 80 GB hard drive
USB 2.0
FireWire 400
10/100 BaseT Ethernet
56K V.92 modem
AirPort Extreme support
DVI/VGA port
ultra-compact case — less than 2″ thick
horizontal or vertical placement
$500 entry price

So begins serious speculation of what announcements will be made at MacWorld San Francisco in Steve Job’s keynote speech on January 11th. MacRumors summarized Think Secret‘s MacWorld rumor roundup like this:

iLife ’05:[quote]iTunes 4.7.1 — minor update
iPhoto 5 — update
iMovie 5 HD — new name; support for high definition video, MPEG-4, and the 16:9 aspect ratio
iDVD 5 — one-click copying of DV tapes to DVDs; support for dual-layer DVD media; burning directly from an iPhoto library
Garageband 2 — additional instruments and possibly new loops

Keynote 2 — new transitions, which Steve Jobs has been observed using in presentations (see also previous rumor)
Asteroid (code-name), previously rumored and the subject of legal action
Crossbow (code-name) — new application related to Keynote
Slingshot (code-name) — new application related to Keynote
Sugar (code-name) — new application, purpose unknown[/quote]

History has shown the accuracy of such pre-keynote prognostication to range from woefully innacurate to mostly correct. And history has also shown that Apple can has intentionally mislead the rumor mongers to distract them from the real story (remember the original iMac intro?). Gizmodo, for its part, was interested but cautious:

While I’d love for this rumor [about a sub-$500 iMac] to be true (I’d definitely be buying at least one, if not more), keep in mind this is joining the iPod Flash, Motorola iPhone, and Apple Asteroid FireWire audio interface in the list of possible product releases from Apple this January.

[update:] ArsTechnica is getting into the headless Mac action, calling it the xMac. Like ThinkSecret spends more time talking about the hows and whys of such a release than of the imagined product itself. The big question: what sea change might have convinced Apple to give up on years of practice and start competing in the low-end PC market again?

Now what we need is somebody who knew the whole story about the Macintosh LC of yesteryear to chime in on its effect on Mac sales.

[update 2:] MacOSRumors is on this, along with AppleInsider. Not to sit idly, however, ThinkSecret is now reporting Apple will introduce a productivity suite named iWork.