The tech world is abuzz over what the latest annoucements will be from Steve Jobs and the gang at Apple. New MacBook? iTunes video rentals? iPhone coming to Canada? Well, the first two were right on the money…
The bi-annual conference and expo in San Francisco kicked off at 12:00 EST today with Steve Jobs’ keynote speech. Here’s what he talked about:
Apple’s latest OS, Leopard, has sold over 5 million copies to-date.
TimeCapsule: A new, all-in-one Airport Extreme plus hard drive device available in 500GB size for $299 or 1TB for $499 (US). Designed to give Macs a dedicated networked back-up solution for people who use Apple’s Time Machine software.
Apple has sold 4 million iPhones in 200 days of sales, which means they’ve moved about 20,000 units a day – and in the process have become the #2 smartphone player behind only RIM.
New Google mapping feature for the iPhone including GPS location-based services.
Ability to handle multiple SMS messages on the iPhone simultaneously.
iPod Touch gains Mail, Stocks, Notes and Weather applications on all new models. Previous Touch owners can upgrade for $20.
iTunes now does movie rentals in conjunction with "every major studio". Movies to be available 30 days after they’re released on DVD. Two price points: $2.99 for old releases, $3.99 for new releases. Users will have 30 days from the day they complete the transaction to watch the movie. Movies can be watched entirely on a single device, or begun on one device (iMac), and finished on another (iPod, AppleTV). Launch today is US only, but international markets scheduled for later this year.
Speaking of AppleTV, it gets a refresh too – it now works with or without a computer, and users can download movies directly to their AppleTV from iTunes, in both Standard Definition and High Definition with 5.1 Dolby Surround sound. HD movie rentals will be $1 more than SD rentals (so $3.99 and $4.99 respectively). The AppleTV user interface has been redesigned around the movie rental experience, but other features have been added including the ability to view audio and video podcasts, see photos from Flickr and videos from YouTube. Good news for current AppleTV owners: all of these new features will be made available via a free software upgrade, no new hardware required. If you don’t own one, the price is being reduced from $299 to $229 (US).
The big hardware announcement: A new laptop: the MacBook Air, dubbed "the world’s thinnest notebook". It’s incredibly thin at 0.16" at its thinnest point and 0.76" at its thickest and can literally be inserted into a manilla envelope. It sports a 13.3" LED-backlit display, iSight web-cam, full-size backlit keyboard and a trackpad with Apple’s now-famous multi-touch gesture recognition (the feature that has made the iPhone and iPod Touch the current darlings of the tech world). The multi-touch feature can be used to do many of the tasks it allows on the iPhone and Touch such as image resizing, zooming and flipping between photos. The Air’s tiny dimensions are thanks to Intel’s new Core 2 Duo processors which are 60% smaller than those which are inside currently available laptops. That and the fact that the Air possesses no on-board optical drive. However Apple will be selling an external USB-powered SuperDrive expressly designed for the MacBook Air, for $99 US. It will also ship with a new feature called Remote Disc, a software solution that allows the Air to borrow any other computer’s optical drive for the purpose of loading software. The whole package weighs in at 3 lbs and will be available in 2 weeks time for $1799 US.
Apple has apparently felt the sting of Greenpeace’s harsh condemnations last year on the issue of their environmentally un-friendly materials. The MacBook Air’s display is mercury and arsenic-free and the circuit boards are BFR and PVC free. The packaging itself has 56% less volume than a standard MacBook.
That’s it… expect industry and media coverage to focus on the iTunes/AppleTV portion of the keynote as these represent the evolution of Apple’s dominant e-commerce media model.
With many thanks to Gizmodo for the live updates.