Thoughts on MWSF Keynote ’08

I wasn’t going to watch the keynote, or more accurately one of the many live blogs of today’s event. But then there was a little crowd gathered in the conference room and someone mentioned pizza.

Overview: Apple sold lots of stuff in 2007. iPods, iPhones, Leopard, etc. That’s good. Keeps me employed and all. Get to the interesting bits.

Time Capsule: A wireless base station with a 500GB or 1TB hard disk for use as a Time Machine backup. It looks like it can be used as a generic drive as well so maybe I can finally consolidate my family iPhoto libraries in one place. $299 for 500GB or $499 for 1TB. I expect I’ll continue to procrastinate.

iPhone SDK: Aha! I’m extremely anxious to find out more about how applications with be keyed, deployed, etc. But it looks like I won’t be finding out today. the only news regarding the SDK is that it’ll be out in February, which isn’t really news. Sucks.

iPhone: Updates to maps, webclips, multiple SMS, etc. All availablevia a free update. 3G later this year? Anyone? Bueller? I don’t have an iPhone and nothing is mentioned that compels me to buy one… Yet.

iPod Touch: Apple finally adds all the applications from the iPhone that should have been on the iPod Touch to start with. But they’re charging $20 for it?! But there is no corresponding increase in the price of a new iPod Touch, which will come with all these new features. Grr.

iTunes Movie Rentals: $3.99 to rent new releases, $2.99 for “library” titles. My first thought is how long is a release new? I don’t expect I’ll take advantage of this very often, but I can see it for people that travel a lot and would rather avoid the price of hotel movies. An “all you can eat” monthly pricing plan might work better here, especially when I compare the value of this to something like Netflix.

Apple TV (take two): The original Apple TV suffered from requiring a connection to a computer to synchronize or stream content from. Not so with the new version. You can rent titles directly from iTMS (including HD content), you can also watch skateboarding dogs, browse Flickr, download podcasts and more all in a redesigned interface, albeit with the same crappy remote. Well if iPod Touch owners are paying $20 for a few widgets that are essential the same apps that run on the iPhone, I can only imagine what Apple will be charging for this. Oh, I see, it’s a free upgrade for old Apple TVs and the new models will see a price cut. We joke in the conference room that the upgrade will be subsidized by iPod Touch owners and their $20 upgrade fee. This would be funnier if I hadn’t purchased an iPod Touch for my wife recently.

I have to admit the Apple TV looks far more compelling that the first attempt. I already have lots of boxes hooked to my TV with the Tivo, Wii, HD-DVD player. Until the purchase of a new box eliminates one of the older ones, I’ll have to give the Apple TV a miss, but probably the most tempting announcement in the keynote.

MacBook Air: A very thin notebook computer. Apart from thinness, nothing revolutionary. What’s worse, it appears that you will be unable to replace the battery or upgrade the memory. Sealed for your protection. The audio and USB connectors connector are recessed in such a way that some of your usb / audio devices may not work without an adapter. No ethernet connector either, but you can buy an adapter to plug into your single USB port for $29. Unless you were using that for your external optical drive that you can buy for another $99. If you buy a MacBook Air, expect to carry around a bag full of crap to make it work in those situations where you have to have a optical drive, or wired ethernet connection, etc. Or, better yet, buy a regular MacBook which is effectively only 0.25 inches thicker, 2 pounds heavier, and includes a firewire port, 2 usb ports, a replaceable battery, DVD drive, faster processor, more memory, and anywhere from $300 to $2000 cheaper.

Randy Newman: The keynote ended with a performance by Randy Newman. And while I wasn’t at the keynote, I nevertheless have “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” running through my head for the rest of the day. Thanks a lot.

So no big surprises in the keynote and that $20 iPod Touch upgrade thing just soured me for the rest of the presentation. I know it’s only twenty bucks, but what the crap? Anyway, nothing I’m going to go out and spend any money on right away. I suppose I should probably consider that a good thing.