much anticipated September
Apple event has come and gone, delivering highlights of the
company's retail efforts, information on iTunes 10, and a slew of
Apple TV related news. The biggest surprises? Apple has
launched a social network and it finally has a TV box
that seems competitive
and compelling. Starting the show, Apple made a big-deal
at the start of the event about its
new stores. Among the high-profile places where Apple has
planted its seed are Paris, France (housed in a restored building);
Shanghai, China (featuring a 40-ft tall glass cylinder over the
subterranean entrance, which Mr. Jobs calls a "landmark in glass
engineering"); and London, England (a "fantastic"
store at "the heart of Covent Garden").Mr. Jobs
bragged of some big numbers -- over 1 million visitors at the
company's stores daily; over 300 stores in 10 countries, total.
Apple puts on lessons for 80,000 customers a week, a key part of its
attempt to convert people to lifetime
Mac buyers.After unveiling its new
lineup -- which featured some surprises (the tiny,
attractive Shuffle, starting at $49 for 2GB), some disappointments
(iPod Nano with iOS and multi-touch but no camera and a smaller
screen), and some expected developments (iPhone 4-esque iPod Touch
revision) -- Apple turned to iTunes.The new version of
iTunes, iTunes 10 is full of surprises. First it ditches the
old hat logo for a new icon. The biggest new feature is a brand
new, integrated social network called Ping that looks an awful lot
like Facebook and helps you network with others to discover music --
and make friends. Mr. Jobs describes, "It's a social
network for music. It's like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes. It's
all about music."You can "follow" friends in
Ping, check out concerts, and post your thoughts. Apple claims
that the network will offer as much privacy as you want, with
complete control over who can see/follow you. Mr. Jobs
describes, "You can get as private or as public as you want, and
it's super simple to set up."The new social network is
also available via app on iOS devices. The new version of
iTunes will be available today.Mr. Jobs showed off his own
account checking out pictures from Jack Johnson and posting that he
was going to a Tegan & Sara/Paramore concert on September 17 in
San Jose, California.Apple does not own the domain
name Ping.com --
that distinction is held by a golf club company. So don't try
to visit Apple's new social network from your browser.As
Apple hinted at early in its presentation, it had some big TV
developments in store. Mr. Jobs showed off a slide with Apple
TV (introduced in Sept. 2006) which reiterated past
critical comments about the device's track record, remarking,
"Not a big hit... What have we learned?"Apparently
one thing they learned was that the current product was too big.
In its never ending quest for small, Apple has hacked the new Apple
TV down to one quarter its old size -- small enough to grab in your
hand. Its connectivity remains largely the same -- optical
audio, HDMI, USB, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and ethernet.Apple has
ditched the old silver case for a black enclosure. It's also
added a new remote. So what's there to watch on
the sleek new Apple TV? You can currently rent HD movies on the
day of the DVD release for $4.99, unlike Netflix, which makes
customers wait a certain number of days for new releases.
Apple, which has offered rentals since 2008, also revealed another
compelling new offer -- TV shows for a measly 99¢. But
apparently not everyone is onboard. Mr. Jobs comments,
"Remember, these are commercial free. Now this is a big step for
some of the studios to make. So we have ABC and Fox. We think the
rest of the studios will see the light."The new Apple TV
rental service features a revamped UI for picking movies. Its
much more graphical and offers reviews from Rotten
help you pick the studs from the duds.The box now can stream
Netflix movies, too. That's somewhat ironic to say the
least -- Apple sells streaming video rentals, but in a bid to pick up
sales, it's letting its biggest rival Netflix on its set-top box.
Users also have access to content on YouTube, Flickr, and MobileMe.
And to top it off iPad users can push content from their Apple TV to
their iPad using a technology call AirPlay.But the biggest
change isn't the dramatically shrinking size, but the dramatically
shrinking price. Mr. Jobs cheers, "The price of Apple TV
was $229... users said they'd like to see it more affordable. So
we're gonna lower the price, from $229... to just $99."The
device is currently on pre-order from Apple, and can be found here.
It will ship in four weeks.Will Apple's new social network
and cheaper, smaller set-top box steal the show? Or will users
tune them out? And will Apple help "the
other" TV studios "see the light", as it puts
it? That remains to be seen, but Apple clearly has clearly worked
hard to try to guarantee their success.
quote: You can already stream movies at 1080p, what advantage will the blue ray have? Blue ray is only a transition technology that will not even last as long as a DVD.
quote: You can already stream movies at 1080p, what advantage will the blue ray have?
quote: but a 99$ little black box with a single connector to plug that works out of the box? I'm seeing widespread adoption coming...