MWSF ‘08 Keynote Outcome: A Year Is A Long Time

with 2 comments

The 2007 Macworld Keynote was, to say the least, above everyone’s expectations; the iPhone blew away just about everybody’s expectations for a cellphone from Apple. Expecting this year’s keynote to be of the same calibre was simply unreasonable. However, I think Apple’s produced a good followup. Nearly everything they announced was absolutely solid and give us a glimpse into what the company is going to be focusing on going forward.

iPhone + iPod touch updates
Solid stuff. The new features, the new Google Maps with it’s GPS-like functionality in particular, are well-implemented and further cement the iPhone as an industry-leader. And it really shows: 4 million iPhones have been sold to date. That’s very impressive.

What’s not so impressive are the fact that older iPod touch owners will have to pay for their update. Yeah, they may be getting 5 new apps, but I never expected Apple to force users to pay for iPod updates, especially when they’ve never done it in the past1. Of course, it’s because of Sarbanes-oxley. Apple’s worked around the accounting law when it comes to iPhone and Apple TV updates because they recognize the revenue from both of those products over an annual subscription basis. In other words, if somebody goes out and buys an Apple TV, Apple doesn’t immediately recognize that they received all $229, but instead recognize 1/12th of it every month for 12 months. At least, that’s my understanding of it. OK, it’s all nice that Apple’s found a way to work around iPhone and Apple TV updates, but it doesn’t explain why they haven’t applied the same practice to iPod updates.

When you look at it from the perspective of paying for software, $20 for the 5 new iPod touch apps is actually a pretty good value. But try explaining to iPod touch owners that the Sarbanes-Oxley act forces Apple to make them pay for updates while iPhone owners just get them for free. The question isn’t why Apple is making them pay for updates, but why they haven’t implemented the obvious solution to make them free.

iTunes Rentals
Easily the most obvious of the announcements. There isnt that much to say here. The fact that they have all the major studios on board for this is pretty good. 30 days to begin watching a film isn’t that bad, but 24 hours to finish watching it is just kind of lame. And rentals will show up on iTunes 30 days after they’re released on DVD.

Oh, and those iTunes rippable DVDs are nice. I’m curious to see how that feature might affect sales of those particular DVDs versus DVDs that aren’t iTunes rippable.

Apple TV Take 2
No new hardware, but a pretty substantial software update to the Apple TV. It no longer requires a computer making it able to buy and download movies (renting is also possible), TV Shows and music to itself. I’m very interested in seeing how this affects sales of the device going forward.

MacBook Air
The Air was easily the most talked about product at Macworld. It looks to be extremely well designed and engineered. But the Air very easily divides people between two camps: those who use their notebooks as their main computer and those who use it as a secondary computer. Those who use their notebooks as their main computer (like myself) would never get an Air as it wouldn’t have enough ports and/or graphics horsepower and/or an optical drive2.

But the MacBook Air isn’t going to be purchased by everybody who uses their laptop as a secondary computer. After all, an entry level MacBook costs $700 and can be upgraded to be significantly more capable than an Air. Instead, the Air appears to cater to the very specific market of people who are willing to pay the money for thin. So, who does pay for thin? Well, there are those average users who will get it simply because they love the form factor3 and there are the heavy travelers who want to lighten their baggage by as much as possible.

However, the big question behind this product isn’t who will buy it, but are there enough people willing to buy it. It’s what makes this particular product launch so exciting. Apple is not only moving into an unproven market here, but a market that people aren’t really sure can even be expanded at this point in time4.

1: Granted, those updates aren’t nearly as substantial as this iPod touch update.
2: Actually, I’m kind of lying. If I weren’t gaming, I’d probably get an Air with an external Superdrive.
3: I’m actually wishing I didn’t game on my computer just so I could justify having this.
4: Much like the release of the original iPod mini.


Written by Kumaran Vijayan

January 20, 2008 at 11:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Everything is always Apple, but what about Creative? Creative invented the iPod interface which Apple stole for use on the iPod. Creative doesn’t get any recongition as a result. Their ZEN players are better the iPod. Why don’t you have a category for Creative or ZEN?

    Davin Peterson

    January 22, 2008 at 1:34 pm

  2. Hey Davin, good to see you around. Are you still going to DAPsite/GotZune?

    Anyway, to the point of your comment: regardless of whichever player is “better” (we have out differences there), I didn’t mention Creative or their mp3 players because this post is about Macworld. Creative doesn’t do anything at Macworld except maybe show speaker systems that can work with iPods and Macs.

    I also firmly believe that Creative’s patent is far too broad and that they shouldn’t have been awarded it.


    January 22, 2008 at 2:31 pm

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