Things seem to be moving along well. Here are some random observations.

As I thought, Time Machine is starting to prompt manufacturers to begin offering affordable RAID backup systems. First out there was the D-Link DNS-323, which has 2 SATA drives and a gigabit network interface, and now there’s the Iomega UltraMax (no URL yet), 2 SATA drives and USB/Firewire interface. At WWDC I actually looked for such a product but couldn’t find anything suitable; they were all too large, too expensive or both. Time Machine without RAID means putting all your backups into one basket, so expect lots of better and less expensive backup drives to show up before or at next MacWorld Expo in January 2007.

The 64-bit iMacs are just out, as well as speed-bumped Mac minis. The timing on this is significant. There’s the mysterious “showtime” event announced for Sept.12, the initial day of Apple Expo Paris – and also the final day of IBC Amsterdam, the “content creation” conference. On the end of the month Apple will be present at Photokina. Of course this means that the upgrade are not significant enough to be presented at these events; rumors are flying about what media-related products will be announced. I suppose that movie sales over the iTunes Music Store is pretty much a given, although that’d a pretty unexciting, US-centric, thing by itself.

I suppose that the putative iPhone might be counted under “media”, as everybody seems to expect a phone-capable iPod instead of a music-capable cellphone under that name. While I’m a happy owner of a 3rd-gen iPod – by coincidence bought in Paris shortly after Steve Job’s last Apple Expo keynote 3 years ago – I can’t see why I would want a cellphone built into it. Or a PDA; I bought the original Palm Pilot when it came out and couldn’t get used to that either.

Should Apple bring out a product that might be classified as a “phone”, as a stockholder I seriously hope it’s not a me-too cellphone/music player/PDA. Just look at the restrictions that have so far hampered world-wide deployment of the iTMS. Combine that with the hundreds of technical and regulatory circumstances that govern cellphones in the various countries, and it’s a recipe for disaster; just check out what happened to that Motorola/Apple phone. So, hopefully, Apple will bring out something pioneering and generally usable – perhaps involving new wireless and VoIP technologies.

The iMac announcement also has deeper meaning. With the new 64-bit chips supposedly running faster at the same price point, it’s mostly a question of chip availability to convert all the line. I seriously expect all Macs to be 64-bit capable in January. Converting the iMacs at this time also means that more developers will have extra time to port their apps, if necessary. When Leopard comes out sometime between January and March a surprising number of applications will be ready for it.

Update: Apple has patented a “multi-functional hand-held device” that purports to:

… include two or more of the following device functionalities: PDA, cell phone, music player, video player, game player, digital camera, handtop, Internet terminal [and/or] GPS or remote control.

The patent covers:

Touch Screen, Touch Sensitive Housing, Display Actuator, Multi-Functionality, Form Factor, One-Handed vs. Two-Handed Operation, Footprint/Size, Full Screen Display, Limited Number of Mechanical Actuators, Adaptability, GUI Based on Functionality, Switching Between Devices (GUI), Operating at Least Two Functionalities Simultaneously, Configurable GUI (User Preferences), Input Devices, Pressure or Force Sensing Devices, Force Sensitive Housing, Motion Actuated Input Device, Mechanical Actuators, Microphone, Image Sensor, Touch Gestures, 3-D Spatial Gestures, Perform Action Based on Multiple Inputs, Differentiating Between Light and Hard Touches, Example of a New Touch Vocabulary, Speaker, Audio/Tactile Feedback Devices, Communication Devices (wired & wireless) and Change UI Based on Received Communication Signals.

…all that’s missing is a biological signal sensor and a recreational pharmaceutical dispensing device, to make this the functional equivalent of the “Joymaker” Frederik Pohl wrote about in his 1965 book The Age of the Pussyfoot. I wonder if that counts as “prior art”…?