Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MacWorld Expo 2008 Keynote Address

Every year, the grand master of all that is Mac, or 'i' - I'm not sure anymore - gets up on stage on January 15th and announces everything that Apple has in store (pun) for the coming year. It's pretty exciting for Mac fanatics (of which I am not one...not at all).

You can find a blow-by-blow account of his Keynote here.

OK, I'm impressed - mostly. Good apps for my iPod Touch - e-mail, google maps, stock ticker, notes - why are these great? Notes will sync with my Mac. E-mail will download e-mails from my accounts and give me a better-than-Web interface in which to compose + will display PDFs, Word, and Excel files. Google Maps is very useful - I use it (in pain) on my Blackberry to find stores, my kids' friends' addresses etc. - frequently enough. But they're charging $20 (come on guys!). Probably to keep iPhone users happy who pay more more more for the phone + $100/month for the service. True that I'm restricted to locations with Wi-Fi only buuut I'll accept that as I'm paying $1,200 less per year...after year...after year.

But here's what I was expecting. Apple TV now offers movies at HD quality with Dolby 5.1. They will sell like there's no tomorrow. At least 50% of Mac owners will buy one and many, many PC owners - those who have iPods and iTunes will buy. You can watch a rental on your Apple TV, sync with your MacBook and iPod and keep watching from where you left off. On any device. Brilliance in usability. Apple makes technology work the way it's supposed to. Amazing.

Finally there's the MacBook Air. Brand new product - not a re-hash of an old one. It's a wedge shape going from .76" to .16". That is amazingly thin! It is so thin Intel had to redesign the physical aspects of their Core 2 Duo to fit the machine's form-factor. I'm impressed. At first blush, though, I don't like the black keyboard. No Ethernet port (802.11n [54Mbps Wi-Fi] though) or optical drive but for ultra-portables that standard fare and acceptable. 3bls, 13.3" display, 5 hours with wireless antenna turned on, 80GB HD, multi-touch trackpad (that will get more and more, uh, traction as time goes on) all @$1,800. Really cool. It's pricey but well in-line with competing PC-based laptops. There is a however here. They are targeting a much smaller market with this laptop. It costs more, closer to the price of a MacBook Pro but has a slower processor, lower memory expansion capability, slower hard drive, 'slower' video card. It makes sense for execs but I think they missed by leaving out the Ethernet port (even if you can buy a usb-Ethernet adapter it will be slower).

That aside, this is what I admire Apple for - they deliver real innovation into the public's hands and they boost their profit margins significantly as they're doing it. Great company!

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