It's All Really Real-- Really (3/1/05)

Does it ever bug you when Apple introduces new products that fall short of their rumored capabilities and features? We know, we know-- it's completely irrational to blame Apple for not living up to a standard it never announced in the first place and that's based entirely on unfounded rumor and speculation. But since we all slaver over the rumors to start with, who says we're rational in the first place? So, yes, we admit it: we were irked when the rumored "Asteroid" FireWire music interface didn't ship alongside GarageBand 2 last January, and while the Mac mini is undeniably cool, some of the featured it was rumored to include would have made it a whole lot cooler.

Here's the thing, though: if anything, we get even more ticked when we discover that rumors weren't quite so unfounded after all. Dig up some compelling evidence that a rumored feature was indeed planned-- or even partially implemented-- and simply didn't make the cut, and we're far more disappointed than we'd be if we discovered we'd just been chasing fiction all along. Case in point: AppleInsider was poking around in GarageBand 2's Contents package and unearthed an image file buried inside with a filename of "asteroid.tiff," and MacRumors reports that digging through the app's installer files with a hex editor reveals all sorts of references to "Asteroid Max Volume," "Asteroid Min Volume," "Select Asteroid Input," etc. Not that there's any doubt as to Asteroid's existence, given that Apple saw fit to sue people for blabbing about it, but this latest evidence makes it pretty clear to us that Apple did, in fact, intend Asteroid to ship concurrently with GarageBand 2. And now, AI claims that because of "poor initial execution," Apple has "postponed the project indefinitely" and Asteroid "may never see the light of day."

Likewise, do you remember when AppleInsider was dishing the dirt about the still-unannounced Mac mini, and suggested that it "was to include a built-in iPod dock," but that feature "was scrapped"? As it turns out, digging through the Mac mini's guts seems to support that statement. The Register reports that an electronics specialist by the name of Leo Bodnar has done some serious dissection of the mini's internals and found that the Ultra ATA-100 riser card which connects the optical drive to the motherboard also has an unused FireWire bus and "a connector pinout that takes the FireWire signal and provides a number of other lines" that probably carry "extra control signals." Leo's educated guess, based on the pinouts and placement, is that the riser was originally intended also to connect to-- you got it-- an iPod dock connector that would have been molded into the top of the mini's enclosure. Personally, we think that an integrated iPod dock would have sold a lot more Mac minis to iPod owners, both Mac- and Windows-using ones alike (heck, we might have bought one on sheer principle), and it's something of a disappointment that, for whatever reason, Apple didn't go through with it.

Of course, Asteroid could surface any day, and there's no reason why a Mac mini revision in nine months or so couldn't include an inset dock connector, so this stuff may all eventually make it onto store shelves. Still, though, it's tough not to dwell on the missed opportunities-- and the fact that right now we could have been jamming on Asteroid-plugged guitars via GarageBand 2 running on a Mac mini as it charged one of our iPods. But we'll survive. Probably.

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The above scene was taken from the 3/1/05 episode:

March 1, 2005: A former Apple exec sues the company for wrongful termination-- let the airing of grievances commence! Meanwhile, evidence reveals some rumored-but-missing Apple features really were planned after all, and the major record labels worry about the iTunes Music Store getting too popular, even as Apple announces that it's just sold its 300 millionth song...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 5195: Wow, It Wasn't A Dud After All (3/1/05)   The truth will out! Remember last November when we killed some time wondering about a couple of mysterious departures by Apple executives? Probably not, since it wasn't exactly an A-list plot twist; after all, people join and leave big companies all the time...

  • 5197: And No Slowdown In Sight (3/1/05)   Folks, just a quick update on yesterday's whole spiel about the recording industry trying to hike prices at the iTunes Music Store: as it turns out, the major labels aren't entirely evil after all...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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