Today was another long-waited opportunity for the Guru of Cupertino to pull the rabbits from his magic hat. Welcome once more to Macworld, Steve Jobs’ annual dog-and-pony show from the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
At exactly 9:14 a.m. (PST) the show started at the Moscone Center with Steve Jobs at center stage with his traditional outfit. This is what was announced during his keynote speech:
I. TIME CAPSULE
A “backup appliance” that looks like the Mac Mini or Apple TV. It’s a companion to Time Machine that will allow users to back-up their computers wirelessly — all Macs in your house can be backed-up. They’ll be going on sale come February in two different versions: 500 GB priced at $299 and 1 TB priced at $499.
There are new iPhone features. The first is Maps with location; you can also customize the home screen, send text messages to multiple people, and the iPhone will actually support lyrics from songs you’re listening to. During the 1st quarter the gadget was on the market, it garnered 19.5% of the U.S. market share. RIM’s Blackberry is the leader of the pack with a 30.0% market participation.
III. iPOD TOUCH
Apple’s adding five applications to the iPod Touch, including Mail, Maps, Stocks, Notes, and Weather, which make the iPod Touch much more like the iPhone. The iPod Touch will use Wi-Fi as the Maps triangulation, and you’ll be able to customize the iPod Touch just like the iPhone. It’s now built in to every iPod Touch, but older iPod Touch users will have to pay $20 for the features. For the first time, the crowd grumbled at that news.
IV. iTUNES MOVIE RENTALS
As expected, Apple has jumped into movie rentals. Somehow they managed to get every single major studio on board like Touchstone, Miramax, MGM, Lions Gate, and New Line Cinema are involved, plus Fox, Warner, Disney, Paramount, Universal, and Sony. That’s actually a few more studios involved than was reported, Apple did its homework during the holiday break. “We have every major studio.”
Movie rentals launches today in the U.S. and internationally later this year. In late February 1,000 films will be available. But the company had to make a concession: Apple won’t get them until 30 days after the DVD release. The movies can be watched anywhere, on any device (e.g., Mac, PC, and all current generation iPods, and iPhone). You can watch them instantly; they download as you start watching. You have 30 days to watch the movie after you download it, but only 24 hours to watch it after you start the movie.
Library titles will cost $2.99. New releases will cost $3.99. You can also transfer movies to an iPod from your Mac or PC right in the middle of watching them, although I assume the 24-hour restriction still applies.
V. MACBOOK AIR LAPTOP
The rumors were true. With his usual enthusiasm Steve Jobs said, “Today we’re introducing a third kind of notebook, and it’s called the ‘MacBook Air’. In a sentence, it’s the world’s thinnest notebook.”
The MacBook Air is slim—0.76 inches at the thickest part, and just 0.16 inches at the thinnest. Jobs noted that the MacBook Air is so slim it will fit in a manila envelope.
The newest Mac family member has a 13.3-inch display, and it’s LED back-lit. It has the same built-in iSight camera as the other notebooks, and it’s got what Jobs claims is a full-size keyboard, which is also back-lit. The track pad is “generous,” and it has multi-touch gesture support that expands upon the gesture support already present in MacBooks.
The thin Apple laptop weighs 3 pounds, comes with 2GBs of memory standard, an 80GB standard hard drive, and 802.11n – Bluetooth 2.1/EDR. Pricing is $1,799 and will be available in just two weeks or you can pre-order today. No word on the price with solid-state drives, but that likely won’t be for tight pockets.The Apple MacBook Air will provide 5 hours of battery life. It doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive but you can “borrow” an optical drive from a MAC or PC or purchase one for $99.
And now you know why those banners displayed at the Moscone Center were saying, “2008: There’s Something in the Air”.
The Moscone Center at San Francisco, CA
(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks )