You can download the Special Event keynote from iTunes. I’ll be going through the keynote chronologically.
1. Steve Jobs appeared, alive and well, albeit super skinny. Once we go through the whole lackluster event, I think this is the biggest news of all.
2. Genius. Blah, who cares. I already pointed out in the past that Genius to me is stupid. Apple now put the Genius feature for apps. Will see how it goes. I don’t have the iPhone, so no ringtones for me. However, $1.29? Really? I thought it was 99c and you can make your own (this option is still available though). In short, ringtones are still a rip-off. Make your own and save your money.
3. iTunes 9. The new iTunes store does feel better than the old one. Definitely easier to navigate. The catch? No more shopping cart. So don’t just click happy as it’s all 1-click buy now. You have to utilize the wish list to simulate the old shopping cart (yeah, they said wish list is a requested feature, while what they did was renaming the shopping cart). iTunes LP is what cocktail becomes. It’s cool, but until they have iTunes LPs for Eurobeat artists like Dave Rodgers, I won’t be bothered. They also added Extras to movies, so your iTunes movie purchase is filled with non-useful content that you don’t care, like the DVD version. 😛
4. Syncing is much more granular now. Instead of having to make individual playlists for specific artists/genres to be synced, iTunes 9 have that option built-in. This is a nice addition. Syncing is also more granular with podcasts and videos, allowing you to specify certain podcasts/videos that you want in the device indefinitely.
5. iTunes 9 Home Sharing. This is a nice feature for those that have iTunes libraries scattered on different computers. Finally iTunes can automatically aggregate the library content between computers with couple of clicks. Very useful if you keep a library on a desktop and another on a laptop. The catch, you need iTunes account, and it only works for computers with the same iTunes account (so no copying music from friends/other family members). Yeah, the recording industry is not that stupid. Kudos to them to limit what you can do with your own content. Luckily, iTunes are now DRM free, so you can always do it the old-fashion way. Home Sharing just makes it a bit more convenient.
6. You can rearrange the App icons of your iPod Touch/iPhone from iTunes 9. Nice long-awaited feature, but I want folders to group certain apps instead of having pages of clutter. Oh well, maybe iTunes 10.
7. iPod Touch. The most disappointing and lackluster announcement. Everybody, including me, is expecting a new Touch with camera, and maybe GPS+compass. Phil went on and on about apps and games, something that everybody knows already. Dissing the PSP and DS won’t change the fact that the “new” Touch is NOT new. I guess the rumor that there’s production/manufacturing issues with the camera unit is true. So, Apple is focusing the Touch for gaming. Imo, wrong move. Without a significant hardware update, the ZuneHD with nVidia Tegra and 720p HD output + HD radio is a LOT more tempting for enthusiasts, especially Windows users.
So, what do Apple have? 8GB for $199 (the old 2G), 32GB for $299, and 64GB for $399. No camera. The 32 and 64GB version are said to be “faster” and support OpenGL ES 2.0, but no confirmation yet whether it has the same innards as the iPhone 3GS. Whatever, Tegra on the ZuneHD sounds better and better. For comparison, ZuneHD 16GB will be $219, and the 32GB will be $289. However you see it, if you’re a Windows user and looking for a new toy, the ZuneHD is extremely tempting and gives better value than the Touch, unless you’re on a Mac or you want apps.
Other than the ZuneHD, there is not much competition here though. Creative’s Zii is not out yet. Sony X series? That’s an even worse joke. 16GB for $299, and 32GB for $399 for a standalone MP3 player? I expect Sony to put the X series on clearance soon.
How did I do on my prediction? Well, I was wrong about most of it, only got the 2G 8GB for $199 right.
No Phil, the iPod Touch is not the best iPod yet as it cannot even do shuffle-by-album, something that the Classic and nano can do for ages. The Dell in the back pocket is cute though, something you copied from Sony’s Vaio P ad? 😛
8. iPod Classic survived! Really, a lot of bloggers, including me, expected Apple to axe the Classic. I didn’t even know there’s a 160GB hard-drive that thin yet. Oh well, this is good news for some people. Apple is the only one left that sells hard-drive based MP3 player. Microsoft already axed their hard-drive based Zunes. 160GB for $249. No drop in price as Apple knows they’re the only player in town now in this category. No new features either, not even the voice over, something that I predicted. Again, I missed the mark, only matching the price point of $249, simply because I was not aware of the thin 160GB being available.
9. iPod Shuffle, the dreaded 3G Shuffle is sticking. Phil kept saying it’s the “easiest” iPod to use. Liar. Apple didn’t even bother to drop the price. It’s still the 4GB for $79, and only added 2GB for $59. Oh, how about an even more expensive piece of useless metal, 4GB stainless steel 3G Shuffle for $99. $99? Really Apple? For something that is barely usable? Let alone that, it’s not even gapless capable. Utter fail!
Let’s see the competitors:
-Sony’s new E series, not as tiny as the 3G Shuffle for sure, but it is much more usable, compatible with any OS, 8GB for $79, 16GB for $99. So, a tiny piece or metal for $99, or a usable MP3 player with screen and buttons, and 4 times the capacity for the same price. Which one would you pick? You have to be a super harcore Apple fanboy to choose the Shuffle.
-Sandisk Sansa Clip+, again, not as tiny as the 3G shuffle, but more usable due to a screen and buttons. 8GB for $69, 4GB for $49. Sure, it’s plastic instead of metal, but usability goes up 1000x with only half the price. Take that Apple! Really, Apple could be losing the low-end market here, a place where Apple is doing decently before with the 2G Shuffle.
10. The new 5G nano. So, the iPod that is getting a video camera is the nano, not the iPod Touch. Huh? Yeah, that’s what I said. I’m not really sure Apple’s strategy here. Steve Jobs said they’re targeting the Flip camcorder market. I don’t know if that’s a market the nano should be going though. The Flip market is going away anyway, as most of today’s compact point-n-shoot digicams at similar price point can also take videos (some even in HD), have better optics, optical zoom, and upgradeable memory. Oh, and they take much better pictures than the Flip. So, imo the Flip itself is not going to last long, and Apple wants to go in? The Touch is in a better position to have a video camera as it has the OS for video editing, picture/video uploading via wifi, and apps. The nano has nothing of those. Even worse, the video camera on the new nano cannot take pictures.
On the other hand, there are quite a few surprises. The video itself is 640×480 30fps. Not too shabby, although I wish Apple added widescreen resolution. Also, according to the new spec, the new nano supports HE-AAC. Well, that’s new. And yes, iTunes 9 allow ripping to HE-AAC now, max 80kbps. I think there’s something going on here. Apple wouldn’t just add this for no reason.
Now, the pricing. 8GB for $149, 16GB for $179. People that are not interested in the camera will look elsewhere, like Sony new E/S series (16GB E345 is $99, 16GB S545 is only $129). Even if you’re interested in the camera, you have to wonder how’s the video quality. No auto-focus? It’s clear that Apple added the cheapo camera to keep the premium pricing. Really, if Sony, a company that is not that smart in term of pricing their products, can sell a 16GB MP3 player for $99, I expect Apple to do better.
11. Norah Jones. No Beatles. Nuff said.
So, a pretty lackluster event. The biggest news is, Steve Jobs is alive and well. Apple is missing the mark on everything except the Classic. The 3G Shuffle is as useless as it was, and instead of price drop, Apple upped the premium. The nano, instead of being cheaper, got a questionable video camera, and no significant price drop. The Touch? Where should I begin? Nothing new, weak pricing and featureset vs the ZuneHD. Microsoft, this is your big chance to push the ZuneHD as much as possible. Even better, just drop the price point to $199 and $249 for the 16GB and 32GB ZuneHD respectively. That might give Steve Jobs a bit of headache. Oh, and where’s Mac support for the Zune? This is a rare chance for Microsoft to snag some Mac users. However, I doubt that MS is that smart (they cannot even put unicode fonts in the Zune).
Now, taking a step back, let’s take a look at the iPod Touch lineup. Did you notice something missing? Yeah, no 16GB! There a jump from 8GB to 32GB. I wonder what is going on here. I can speculate that, assuming the production problems is true, that Apple has to fill the gap quick, and put the 8GB 2G Touch back. The 16GB was reserved for the intended new Touch with camera. Also, in the end, Steve said “See you soon.” I’m guessing an October event, introducing the true 3G Touch with video camera, 16GB at $249 and 32GB at $349, filling the gaps nicely, co-existing with the current lineup. Voila! 🙂
There you go, my impression of the 9/9/09 Apple event, and with some analysis/rumor at the end to boot! 😛