Phil Schiller did an OK job at presenting Apple’s last keynote address at Macworld. He was a bit clumsy at times, but that was OK because the material he was presenting was, well, clumsy too. Oh, some of the announcements were pretty OK, like DRM free tunes from iTunes but the rest was, well, clumsy. How can you make iWork 09 sexy? You can’t. Same with iLife. You just cannot make this stuff overly exciting. As for the hardware, well, it was not overly exciting either. All in all, I don’t think even the Jobs one could have made it any better. And, I’m guessing, this is why Apple is bowing out of the trade show. They just cannot wow like they used to. I think that is OK. And, on the one occasion when they think they can, they can just hold an ‘Apple event.’ No problem and no pressure.
Don’t get me wrong, some of what Phil presented was cool, just not ‘wow’ or sexy. Among the cool things was iMovie. I thought that was pretty darn impressive. While the interface is very busy, and un-Apple in appearance, it’s a pretty powerful application. I’d LOVE to have that for Vista. Microsoft has a LONG way to go with Movie Maker Live. The audio capabilities alone would make it worth while, but stability feature is amazing. Apple hit a home run with this one.
Alas, some of the others, not so much. Some of the ‘new’ features in iPhoto, for example, have been around in the Live Photo Gallery product. Facial recognition, for example, is already in Live Photo Gallery, but I don’t think it is a sophisticated. Themes in the slide show…wow. I don’t know what to say about that. Been there, done that.
iWork.com, on the other hand, looks promising. This is one ‘cloud’ application that really looks like an application and not something that kinda sorta looks like an application. Since I could only see what was being demo’ed, I really cannot say just how functional it really is, but I suspect it’s going to be pretty complete. I’m sure Apple is utilizing Sprout for this. Sprout is Apple’s answer to Silverlight and Flash. It will be interesting to see how well iWork.com works.
I’m not going to discuss the hardware. It looks like another pricey, pretty box from Apple. Snore.
The ‘One more thing’ was the news that iTunes is going DRM free. Or, at least, offering DRM free tracks. 8 million of them today. 10 million in a few months. Impressive. But, as with anything, pricing has changed. Songs are now from 69 cents to 1.29. Looks like Apple gave in order to get. Cool. Funny thing with this new DRM free stance: your library of DRM’ed tracks will remain that way UNLESS YOU UPGRADE THEM. In order to do so, you will pay thirty cents per track, effectively causing you to re-purchase your already purchased tracks. This may or may not be a big deal to some. Others won’t care.
And that brings me to one last observation about Apple in general. THEY NICKEL AND DIME YOU TO DEATH! Oh my! Take GarageBand, for example. One of the new features is it’s ‘teach me’ mode. It comes with a few generic lessons from someone that I am sure is quite capable and I don’t want to lessen him/her as they can do something I cannot: play instruments. However, Apple has teamed with some professionals, such as Sting, Sarah McLaughlin and other famous musicians. BUT…to get THESE lessons will cost you $4.95 each. iWork.com will be fee based. You have to pay extra to get DRM free versions of your tunes. Each new iPod tends to do something that makes you have to buy yet another cable, case, or another accessory. Enough.
ONE LAST THING…Phil likes the number three…every thing he presented was in sets of three. Hidden meaning there? I report, you decide.