Update: I've watched the keynote webcast and updated the post here and there.
Okay, looks like I will be getting myself a new laptop soon. Exactly how soon is a matter of applied financial engineering, but it was on the cards for this year, and the MacBook looks like it will be it.
But let's look at the rest of the keynote, shall we?
iPod World Domination... (yawn)
First off, the amazing figure of 14 million iPods (out of 42 million) sold during this holiday season. I'll be digging around for some sort of global perspective of the MP3 player market, but the number is impressive. And so is the near-a-billion-song mark on the iTunes Music Store.
Almost routinely impressive, to the extent that it's starting to get meaningless without a bit more context (which Steve Jobs probably presented as well, but I haven't seen the video yet - it will be tonight's TV show for me).
He did. 14 million iPods this Xmas against last year's 4.5 million, plus some interesting overall figures (US$1 billion retail store revenue during holiday season, US$5.7 billion revenue for last quarter, etc. Should drive stocks up a bit.)
I'm not particularly impressed by the video downloads (yet, although 15-minute American football highlights seems a particularly shrewd move) or the iPod accessories. Unless you consider a Chrysler an iPod accessory...
Duh? Like, how counter-intuitive is this sentence?
I'm not particularly impressed by more Dashboard eyecandy, and the first thing I'm going to check in 10.4.4 is whether or not Mail.app still has the infamous "port 0" bug. In fact, I'm not particularly taken by the decision to release 10.4.4 today - there are Tiger bugs that needed more aggressive fixing, and putting it off for eyecandy, well... that's just wrong.
No big earth-shattering news here. iPhoto gets a makeover (and like all others, it's described as bringing "incredible speed", so I'm not impressed until I've confirmed it myself).
Full-screen editing looks interesting, though. It actually looks like a simple light table. Hmmm. And a clone of the old Photoshop matrix color tuning dialog, now used for effects as well.
Couldn't care less about the .Mac features, though. More on one of those below.
It now becomes trivial to export from iMovie to an iPod, and iDVD (finally) gets third-party DVD burner support (which was one of the major hassles anyone trying to use it on a PowerBook ended up having, sooner or later).
Wow, GarageBand got a Podcasting authoring studio. That's, er... so 2004 of them. I had visions of Clippy popping up and saying "You appear to be recording a podcast! What kind of cheesy background music you want to pick?"
But no, you get a "speech enhancer" so that you won't sound like a geek in a basement/attic somewhere. Or, if you prefer, to sound like a geek in a big, echoing cave.
Kudos to Steve for making fun of the rumor mongers in his demo podcast, though. The man has a sense of humor.
iWeb doesn't seem to be the bees' knees, either. It's going to steal Sandvox's thunder thanks to the templates and it being very tightly integrated with the rest of the iLife suite, but I draw the line at it autolinking songs to the iTunes Music Store.
Bottom line: I'll probably buy it if iPhoto is proven to be a significant improvement, if only because it's cheaper than Aperture (by an order of magnitude), has lower system requirements, and I'm not yet committed to either Adobe's Lightroom or iView Media Pro.
The rest is, well, kid's stuff.
Photocasting, i.e. .Mac+RSS
As you may have noticed, I am no big fan of Podcasting, and Photocasting seems like a particularly dumb idea to me. The meat of it is that you can upload albums straight to your .Mac account and other people will get the updates via RSS - which, incidentally, you can do on your own today with very little hassle and without a .Mac account.
It's also the pretext for one of the most complex diagrams Steve ever showed in a presentation, detailing the "simplicity" of it:
So what's the real benefit? What use is it (besides the obvious aspect of making it easier for the common Joe to do, which is good enough for most people), and what's the real technical achievement behind it?
Well, pretty much none, I guess. But .Mac's added value has always been making it easier for people to have a personal web presence, so I guess this rounds it up and brings it kicking and screaming into the (pardon the expression) Web 2.0 age. It's even got Ajax, bless them...
There's no mention of that anywhere, but it's the thing that would make me pony up some cash for the upgrade. Keynote is good enough as it is for me right now, so I'm nonplussed.
And yes, there isn't a spreadsheet yet - although "tables with calculations" might work out for most common uses...
"We're going to offer it with the same features. We're going to offer it for the same prices. So what's different?"
Yep. My question exactly. This new iMac holds no big mystery to anyone who's seen NeXTStep running on Intel years ago and (more recently) had the most unusual experience of seeing Mac OS X 10.4.3 running on a Dell box.
The biggest news there is that Apple got Microsoft and Adobe to commit to delivering universal binaries (and are doing it themselves for iLife), although I'd love to know more about whether or not they will be updates to the current versions.
Apparently we're due to get a few updates to ensure the current Office runs properly under Rosetta and iSync/Spotlight support for Entourage, but no word on Universal binaries for Office 2004 yet - maybe never...
The MacBook Itself (i.e., One More Thing)
My guess is that the iBook will vanish and be called (just) the MacBook, and if it's updated further down the line we're likely to see a single-core CPU with a lower power consumption (it would be a good differentiation factor, and would fit with the Intel chip roadmaps).
The iSight is a nice touch (although I have never used iChat for more than a few minutes, since it's anything but industry-standard as far as telcos are concerned), and keeping the PowerBook form factor helps persuade the unwashed masses that an Intel Mac is still a Mac, first and foremost.
I am, however, completely non-enthusiastic about the new power connector - which implies a new transformer, and is therefore a new part number to order for anyone serious about commuting with a laptop. I wish I could use my iBook adapter, magnetic tricks be damned.
Two other aspects I'm not too keen on are ExpressCard (regardless of the new power management and throughput niceties, since I have to date seen only one card I'd be interested in using), and the fact that no matter how much power-saving voodoo Intel crammed into Yonah, it's still likely to get hot.
The built-in modem is gone and Firewire 800 also seems to have died an untimely death (my bet is that there will be ExpressCard adapters for it really soon). And don't get me started on their using ATI, but hey, we'll see how it pans out.
And that's pretty much it, I guess.