Steve Jobs has just finished up his Keynote at the annual Macworld convention in California, and Apple fans everywhere are pulling out their wallets to scoop up the latest and greatest Apple gear. Here’s what Jobs (wearing his signature black mockneck) presented during the keynote:
- iPhone: THE gadget of 2007 has officially been on sale for 200 days, and it has done extremely well. To date, about 4 million iPhones have been sold, and the device is currently the 2nd most popular smartphone on the market, enjoying a robust 19.5% marketshare, just behind RIM’s Blackberry devices, which have 39% of the market. Jobs also introduced a new iPhone update, which will allow users to send multi-recipient text messages, customize home screens by rearranging homescreen icons, and add “webclips” to homescreens (save favorite sites to the phone’s desktop). Apple is also partnering with Google and Skyhook to use triangulation to give iPhones (and iPod Touches) location support. This means that any location-based services (custom driving directions, etc…) can now be supported on these devices, despite their lack of GPS. Excellent. A software solution to what many thought was a hardware problem.
- iPod Touch: The iPod touch gets 6 new applications: mail, maps, web clips, stocks, notes, and weather. Existing iPod Touch users can purchase the new applications for $19.99 (weird).
- Time Capsule: Apple’s wireless base-station now comes equipped with a hard-drive, allowing notebook users to wirelessly backup their computers using the Airport network. This is especially useful for OSX Leopard users who haven’t yet been able to take advantage of Time Machine, Apple’s automatic data back-up program. The new Airport-Extreme-cum-hard-drive (dubbed Time Capsule) starts at $299 for a 500GB drive, and goes up to $499 for a 1TB drive.
- iTunes: To date, iTunes has sold over 4 billion songs, 125 million TV shows, and 7 milion movies. iTunes will now offer customers the ability to rent movies, with all major studios (Touchstone, Miramax, MGM, New Line, Lion’s gate, Fox, WB, Disney, Paramount, Universal, and Sony) on board to deliver content through Apple. Movies will be made available 30 days after DVD release (once again: weird), and rented movies can be watched on TVs, computers (Mac or PC), iPods, and iPhones. Once downloaded, users will have 30 days to begin watching a movie, and once the movie has started, 24 hours to finish it. Old releases will rent for $2.99, new releases for $3.99. That jumps to $3.99 and $4.99 for HD rentals.
- Apple TV: What Jobs once referred to as a “hobby” may now become a major revenue stream for Apple, as Apple TV version 2.0 will allow users to rent movies (with HD support). Apple TV will still sync with a computer, though no computer is required this time around. Users will be able to purchase/rent content directly from Apple TV, and view photos directly from Flickr and .Mac. Apple TV will still support YouTube, offering access to over 50 million video clips. The device also gets an updated interface, centered around the movie-rental experience. As an added bonus, all the new features are available to existing Apple TV users through a free software upgrade – meaning they won’t have to go out to purchase a new device. Nice. The price of Apple TV has also been slashed to $229 from $299, and new devices will start shipping in 2 weeks.
- Macbook Air: This was the announcement everyone has been waiting for. The Macbook Air is an ultra-portable notebook with impressive stats: It’s wedge-shaped, with its thickest part coming in at a mere .76 inches thick, and the thinnest coming in at .16 inches. It weighs a mere 3 pounds, and features a full-sized backlit keyboard (consistent with current Macbook design), and a beautiful 13.3″ screen with an ambient light-sensor and LED backlighting. The pièce de résistance: a multitouch trackpad that will allow users to manipulate content just like on the iPhone. The device is also eco-friendly: LED backlighting means its energy-efficient, the glass screen is free of mercury and arsenic, and the insides are bromide and PVR-free. The packaging is also 56% smaller than that of the current Macbook. The hard-drive based (80GB) version will cost $1799, and an upgraded SSD-based version (64GB) will run a whopping $3098. Both versions have 2GB RAM. The SSD is the true ultra-portable, as it’s more stable (no moving parts), quieter, cooler, and will boot up faster. We can probably expect that $3000 price tag to come down in the future as the cost of SSD memory continues to drop. Perhaps one of the coolest features of the Macbook Air is “Remote Disc,” which will allow users to access/use the CD/DVD drive of a nearby computer for the sake of installing or receiving files. This is important, since the Air has no optical drive of its own (it has only 3 ports: 1 USB port, 1 audio-out jack, and 1 micro-DVI port). Users can purchase an external optical drive made just for the Air for $99.
Exciting stuff. While the Macbook Air will be getting much attention (it is a brand-new product, after all), the iTunes Movie Rental and updated Apple TV are particularly interesting from an innovation standpoint. Once again, Apple is fundamentally changing the game. This could be exactly what it takes to get content from the internet into living rooms across the country, and the living room is one place Apple hasn’t yet completely conquered. We’ll see how it all plays out – let’s not forget that Netflix is partnering with LG to create its own movie-rental device. In the meantime, I’ll be saving up for a Macbook Air. Learn more at Apple.
UPDATE: You can now watch the keynote on Apple’s website by following this link. Enjoy.