The Lead Up
Normally before a Macworld, the various Macintosh, and other, rumour sites start to build up hype by trying to predict or “report” what Jobs is going to announce in his keynote. Sometimes these reports are accurate; more often then not, they are not. Either way, everyone still seems to read them and add their 2Â¢ worth on the issues at hand, creating even more hype.
This time most of the rumour sites didn’t really get in to the gossiping, or at least not anywhere near the extent to previous Expo’s. There was one major exception, www.spymac.com, who “reported” on the supposed “iWalk” PDA, but the was quickly debunked as a hoax, although it was a very well executed one.
What is interesting about the lead up to this expo is that Apple themselves built up the hype and fuelled speculation on what was to be released.
On their US web site, they began a countdown to the Keynote that stated “X days to Macworld San Francisco” where X was the number of days left and then they had a different catch phase, or two, each day. The catchphrases read;
7 Days: This one is big. Even by our standards.
6 Days: Count the days. Count the minutes. Count on being blown away.
5 Days: Beyond the rumour sites. Way Beyond.
4 Days: It’s like a backstage pass to the future.
3 Days: To go where no PC has gone before.
Later in the day, the catch phrase was updated slightly to read “To boldly go where no PC has gone before.” (Obviously Star Trek fans got involved :))
2 Days: Full speed ahead: Lust Factor Ten.
Later in the day, the slogan was changed to the mysterious, and still unexplained, “What’s in Steve’s Pocket?”.
1 Day: Just one more sleepless night.
This countdown and the catch phrases certainly started to cause interest on various sites and mailing lists.But the biggest news and debate broke when TIME Canada accidentally posted TIME’s exclusive cover story about the new iMac’s on the Sunday evening (US time).
Job’s had given TIME an exclusive interview that should have been embargoed until after the keynote, but a mistake was made and it got posted early. Thus a sneak preview got out and at the time this only lead to provide even more fuel to the hype wagon with some people even claiming that even this was a clever hoax – mainly because it appeared on the Canadian site and not the main US site.
It turns out it was a mistake in been posted early as after the keynote the story appeared on both sites. Also Jobs’ makes a brief mention of it when announcing that everyone who attended the Keynote would receive a copy of that issue of TIME magazine as they walked out.
The full story by TIME can be read at;
So while it is amusing to read and follow the rumors and hype, and yes, even participate in them, the best thing to do is just wait and see the keynote itself and all will be revealed in the fullness of time.
Apple themselves built up the hype and fuelled speculation on what was to be released
The Keynote Commences
So after a week of build up and reading TIME’s article, Monday night in Melbourne slowly passed by and then the extremely early hours of Tuesday morning were occupied by a group of us visiting McDonald’s , Seven 11 and play “Guess that Tune” that were played as MIDI files on a laptop.
Finally 3am Melbourne time arrives and we setup a projector attached to a Titanium G4 PowerBook connected to an Optus@Home cable connection and sit down with our supplies of softdrink and junk food to watch the keynote live.
3:55am, and we refresh the webpage to see the “Watch Now” icon appear and clicking up it we get some footage of people sitting in the hall waiting for Jobs to arrive on stage.
A few minutes after 4am, our long waiting end and the keynote begins…
Jobs commenced the keynote with an update on the progress of various things launched last year.
The first area covered was the iPod which has been a great success – with 125,000 iPod’s been sold in under 60 days.
Next topic covered was the Apple Retail Stores. Apple promised to have 25 open by the end of 2001 – They actually opened 27. There will be more stores opening in 2002. In the month of December, the Apple Retail Stores had attracted over 800,000 visitors (as a comparison Jobs said that 80,000 people were expected to attend the Macworld Expo over the next 4 days)
An interesting statistic quoted was that 40% of buyers at the Stores where becoming first time Macintosh owners.
Then Jobs discussed the arrangement with the State of Maine to provide 36,000 iBook laptops to all Year 7 and 8 students and teachers. The State went with the iBooks as wanted easy to use wireless networking and the iBook provided this functionality.
125,000 iPod’s have been sold since its’ announcement on November 10
Mac OS X
Jobs then moved on to Mac OS X, which was released in March last year. He detailed how in April there were only 500 application that had been ported to Mac OS X. By July this had doubled to 1000 and by October the number reached 1500. Suddenly, with the release of Mac OS X the number jumped quite dramatically to over 2500.
Jobs then applauded Microsoft for Office X.
Then Adobe demonstrated Photoshop for Mac OS X (but alas didn’t announce when it would ship)
Palm demonstrated the recently release Palm Desktop showing how easy it was to access common features directly from the Dock.
Apple’s own Final Cut Pro 3 was then show-cased real-time transition rendering and software based colour correction.
Mathematica showed us how they utilised Quartz, Mac OS X’s native graphic engine, to provide incredibly complex, yet smooth animations.
Aspyr demonstrated the new Harry Potter game and announced Hot Date for The Sims and StarWars: Galactic Battleground.
Finally there was a cross to George Lucas who explained how Lucasfilm used Mac OS X and Aliaswavefront’s Maya application to do over 4,000 of the shots that will used in StarWars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones.
Job’s then announced that “It’s time” and starting today all new Macintosh systems will begin to ship with Mac OS X as the default Operating System. This means when you turn on a new Mac for the first time users will go straight to Mac OS X, but they will have the option (via the System Preferences) to boot in to Mac OS 9, which will continue to ship on the machines to provide support for Classic applications.
Although not announced in the Keynote, Apple has updated the software bundles that ship with their new systems. The new iMac and iBook hardware bundles now include AppleWorks 6, Apple Developer Tools X, iDVD 2 (requires SuperDrive), iMovie 2, iTunes 2, iPhoto (available as a free download at www.apple.com), Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0, AOL 5.0, Earthlink 2.5, Intuit’s Quicken 2002 Deluxe (iMac only), James Thompson PCalc 2, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 5.1, Pangea’s OttoMatic, Smith Micro FAXstf X Preview and Software MacKiev’s World Book for Mac OS X.
While the Power Mac and PowerBook hardware bundles now include Apple Developer Tools X, iDVD 2 (requires SuperDrive), iMovie 2, iTunes 2, iPhoto (available as a free download at www.apple.com), Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0, Ambrosia Software Snapz Pro X, Caffeine Software PixelNhance 1.5, Code Line Communications Art Directors Toolkit for X, Earthlink 2.5, FileMaker Pro Trial 5.5, James Thompson PCalc, Lemke Software GraphicConverter 4.1, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 5.1, Omni Group’s OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner, and Smith Micro FAXstf X Preview.
Jobs, “It’s Time!” Starting today, all new Macintosh systems will ship with Mac OS X as the default OS
The Digital Hub
Jobs then demonstrated each of the existing Digital Hub “iSoftware” packages – iTunes, iMovie and iDVD. Since announcing Apple’s Digital Hub strategy at last years Macworld San Francisco, Apple have sold over 1 million blank DVD-R disks and distributed over 8 million copies of iTunes.
He then introduced us to the latest addition to the Digital Hub experience – iPhoto, for use with USB and Firewire equipped digital cameras.
Jobs described iPhoto as “the missing link” in digital photography and said “Just as iTunes and iPod are changing the way people listen to music, iPhoto will change the way people manage and share their digital photos.”
Traditionally users of digital cameras had to go through a laborious process, often referred to as the “Chain of Pain”, to import, edit and print their digital images.
iPhoto takes that pain way – You simply plug in your digital camera to a USB or Firewire port and iPhoto will automatically launch and commences importing your images, catalogues, stores and display them on screen.
A key feature of iPhoto is it’s ability to easily catalogue all your images and organise them into albums and you can add comments, keywords and names.
One of the most common editing options with digital photos is cropping out unwanted portions and iPhoto provides an extremely simple yet powerful interface to do this.
Printing on ink-jets is as simple as choosing the size of the print you want and the number required the clicking on the Print button. iPhoto also offers a unique service that allows you order high-quality prints in a variety of sizes ranging up to 20″ x 30″ for only US$19.95.
Using iPhoto’s built-in page-layout module, you can also design a customised photo album which can then be ordered as a linen-covered hard bound book of photos for only US$29.99 for the first 10 pages.
Unfortunately, neither the print ordering service nor the books are available in Australia. At this stage they are only available in the United States and Canada, but as the print service is provided by Kodak, I hope we will get to see this service offered here in Australia.
iPhoto can be downloaded from Apple’s web site free of charge and is available only for Mac OS X.
iPhoto is available only for Mac OS X and can be downdloaded free of charge from www.apple.com/iphoto
A new iBook was also announced. This new model sits at the top end of Apple’s consumer laptop range and sports a 14″ activate-matrix display, 600Mhz G3 processor, a combo CD-RW/DVD drive and has up to 6 hours battery life. It is available for $3,995.
The New iMac
The long awaited LCD-based iMac, with a unique yet stylish look, has finally arrived and it has been worth the wait. While it is not exactly what most would call an “all-in-one” unit, it is still a single unit. The base, which is a little higher and wider than a standard CD jewel case, is a half sphere that contains the motherboard, the optical drive and built-in power supply. The monitor, which is a 15″ LCD is attached on a lamp like arm that allow great flexibility in viewing angle and height.
The new form factor has been dubbed by many in the industry as “Luxo Jr” after the Pixar Studio icon – the ball playing Lamp you see at the beginning of movies like Toy Story and Monsters Inc.
While I had expected a new style iMac to arrive, I didn’t anticipate the new style and most certainly didn’t expect the nicest surprise – all new iMac’s sport a G4 processor, at either 700MHz or 800Mhz.
Keeping the surprises coming, Jobs announced that the top of the range model even supports a SuperDrive capable of writing your own DVD’s using Apple’s iDVD software (previously this was only available in the top of the line Pro models at over $5,000). Also it appears that the top-end iMac apparently sports an updated SuperDrive that is actually faster than that currently found in the Tower G4 – it reads DVD’s a 6x and writes at DVD-R at 2x while reading CD’s at 24x and writes to both CD-R and CD-RW at 8X.
There are three new iMac models that are basically differentiated by their optical drive and processor.
All models include a built-in 15″ active-matrix flat-panel LCD with a resolution of 1024×768, a 32MB NVIDIA GeForce2MX graphics card, two Firewire ports, 5 USB ports (three on the CPU and two on the keyboard), built-in 56k modem, 10/100BaseT ethernet, and a VGA-mirroring port. On the sound front, the new iMac’s have an internal 18-watt stereo digital amplifier that can be connected to Apple Pro Speakers (included with two models), a headphone socket and an analogue microphone socket. They are all AirPort ready and included a new styled Apple Pro Keyboard and mouse that are white in colour.
The rear of the new iMac contains all the ports including the built-in power supply.
The long awaited LCD-based iMac, with a unique yet stylish look, has finally arrived
Where To Now?
I think the new iMac will be a winner for Apple as it packs an incredible amount of power in to a sleek design and when you consider what it includes as standard, it does have a reasonable price tag. Remember at base model G4 Tower costs $3,895 and that is without a monitor – which you need to add another $1,399 for a 15″ LCD, making a total of $5,294. So $2,995 for the new base iMac is very reasonable but personally I think I would go with either the Combo or SuperDrive model for my desktop machine.
The 14″ iBook also has me extremely tempted at the moment as I happen to in the market for a laptop.
As to iPhoto, I agree with Steve Jobs’ comment of “…iPhoto will change the way people manage and share their digital photos.”
The one question left in people’s mind is what is going to happen to the G4 Pro range? I believe Apple were correct in only focussing on two major announcements in this Keynote and we should keep an eye open for more exciting announcements from Apple Computer in coming months – I’m sure there are plenty more on their way with Macworld Expo Tokyo to be held from March 21 – 23 and then we have Macworld Expo New York in June or July.
Luke Oliver from Apple Computer Australia will be presenting the new iMac and iPhoto at the February AUSOM Meeting, where you may be amongst the first in Australia to see the new iMac.
Photography provided courtesy of Apple Computer, Inc.
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Unless otherwise stated all prices listed in this article are in Australian dollars and include GST. While prices were believed to be correct at time of writing, they are provided as an indication only and we suggest you contact the relevant supplier(s) to confirm current pricing and conditions.
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