Jobs Airs Apple's Plans in Macworld Keynote
As Macworld 2008 got under way, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced an iTunes movie rental store, as expected. The rollout will take time, though. Apple plans to have 1,000 movies available for rental by February, but studios insisted that titles may not appear in iTunes until 30 days after they're released on DVD.
As throngs of Apple devotees crowded the Moscone Center in San Francisco and even more remained waiting in line outside, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage to tell a packed room about the computer maker's plans for following up what was a tremendous year for the company.
2008 will usher in an ultra-portable MacBook, which the company has dubbed the "MacBook Air."
Its 13.3-inch display -- the same size as the display on a standard MacBook -- doesn't stand out as considerably tiny, though that configuration allows it to have a full-sized keyboard, according to Jobs.
Light on Toxins
Apple apparently concentrated instead on a slim device profile: It weighs just 3 lbs. and measures .76 inches at its widest and .16 inches at its thinnest. One model uses the same 1.8-inch hard drive as the iPod classic; another more costly model is available with 64 GB of flash memory. The track pad supports some of the same multi-touch capabilities touted by the iPhone. The device, Jobs said, ships in two weeks and starts at US$1,799.
Jobs also talked up the MacBook Air's environmental friendliness, noting that the display is free of mercury and arsenic.
Also on Apple's list of new hardware is Time Capsule, a complement to the Time Machine data backup feature found in OS X Leopard. Time Capsule is a wireless hard drive available in 1 TB and 500 GB configurations that can be accessed and updated wirelessly. It doubles as an 802.11 WiFi base station.
The 500 GB version sells for $299, while the 1 TB model goes for $499. Both ship in February.
Movie and TV Moves
Apple's media delivery strategy entails a push into new outlets. At the keynote, Jobs announced an iTunes movie rental store, as expected.
However, the number of studios involved in the deal extended well beyond most rumors. Jobs claimed every major studio has signed on to some degree -- including MGM, Lion's Gate, Sony and even Universal. As reported earlier, 20th Century Fox is also on board. Movies rented through the service can be ported to iPods and iPhones.
The rollout will take time -- Apple plans to have 1,000 movies available for rental by February, but studios insisted that titles may not appear in iTunes until 30 days after they're released on DVD.
Apple TV also received a significant refresh through a software update that will apparently allow owners to use the device without a Mac or PC. Content can be browsed and selected using a Cover Flow interface directly through the television. Apple TV also cut the price to $229.
As for the iPhone, Jobs started by claiming it has captured a 19.5 percent share of the smartphone market, second only to Research In Motion. In 200 days, he said, 4 million iPhones have been sold.
A new iPhone is not in the cards for Macworld, but Apple has thrown existing users a few bones by way of software.
New software available for the devices includes a maps feature, developed in conjunction with Google and Skyhook, that indicates the user's approximate location. The offering is similar to a Google Maps feature that's been available for users of other smartphones since 2007.
iPhone users may now customize their home screens to display images other than the standard multi-button interface that comes with each new iPhone.
New applications are in the works for the WiFi-enabled iPod touch, including mail, maps, stocks, notes and weather applications. The software will come included in every new touch sold; however, current owners of the devices will have to pay $20 for it.
All new updates, Jobs said, are available immediately through iTunes.
A Little Less Wow
"The usual wow," summarized attendant Dan Sokol. "That Air notebook, I've got to get inside. The backup device, not so wow. A little expensive and not enough hard drive for me. For other people, I'm sure it will be fine," he told MacNewsWorld.
"There were a couple of good surprises. The rental movies -- we'll see how that goes."
Sokol thinks the amount of time one can keep a movie once it's started viewing, however, should be longer -- a weekend, perhaps.
However, he noted, this year's keynote did not quite live up to 2007's. "You can't follow an act like this one," he remarked, holding up his iPhone.