MacWorld SF — 2009 Edition

For the past few years, I’ve jot­ted down some post-game thoughts on Apple’s announce­ments dur­ing their keynote at Mac­World1. I sup­pose — like the major­i­ty of folks, no doubt — I was a bit under­whelmed by this year’s address. Not that Schiller him­self did a bad job, mind you. It’s just become clear that Apple has lost most inter­est in this prod­uct show.

iLife & iWork

That being said, I was impressed by a few fea­tures that were shown off in the updates to iLife and iWork. I hon­est­ly don’t know enough about pre­vi­ous ver­sions of iWork to say much about that office suite, aside from it looks like a rea­son­ably priced com­peti­tor to Mac Office 20082. I have con­sid­er­ably more expe­ri­ence with iLife, of course. The updates to iPho­to are much need­ed. Now with Google’s Picasa (final­ly!) avail­able on the mac, there exists a very good alter­na­tive to iPho­to. Picasa has had some social net­work web­site inte­gra­tion already (as has iPho­to with plu­g­ins) and I believe Google also even has some of the facial recog­ni­tion soft­ware avail­able. But, hav­ing two good choic­es helps both, in my opinion.

I am espe­cial­ly excit­ed about the update to iMovie, though. As the pre­vi­ous ver­sion was a large dis­ap­point­ment to many users (though not me, as I did­n’t upgrade yet), this ver­sion seems to come with a num­ber of pow­er­ful fea­tures. I was par­tic­u­lar­ly impressed with the image sta­bi­liza­tion fea­ture; espe­cial­ly giv­en the shak­i­ness of our Kodak Zi6.

Laptop Batteries

It appears that the real inno­va­tion in the new 15″ Mac­book Pro was in the bat­tery. As much as peo­ple wish to com­plain about non user-ser­vice­able parts, I hon­est­ly think that issues such as weight and bat­tery life are prob­lems that they will feel more day-to-day. I’ve had my work lap­top for over a year now and have yet to take the bat­tery out of it once. One argu­ment is that it is handy to car­ry a spare bat­tery. How­ev­er, if you sim­ply dou­ble the bat­tery life from 4 to 8 hours, there’s a real­ly good incen­tive to save your back and not both­er car­ry­ing a sec­ond of the heav­i­est part of the com­put­er. Equal­ly impor­tant is bat­tery life. We have had to replace the bat­tery on Ange­la’s aging iBook once already. And though there are right and wrong ways to use a bat­tery to extend or short­en its life3, most users sim­ply don’t pay atten­tion to that sort of thing. It’s wor­thy inno­va­tion, if even a bit less sexy than Mac­World keynote announce­ments of past years.

iTunes Music Store

Speak­ing of less-than-sexy announce­ments, the “one more thing” this year was the iTunes Music Store, which of course is now a small­er part of the larg­er iTunes store4. I think the obvi­ous most sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of this announce­ment was the drop­ping of DRM. This comes near­ly two years after Steve Jobs pub­lished an open let­ter to music labels ask­ing to do away with DRM. Apple has become a huge force in the mar­ket and, along with Ama­zon, show that the tide has turned against DRM. The com­mon, hon­est music fan now knows what it is and that it only hin­ders their expe­ri­ence. I think 2008 was the year that DRM died and that future rem­nants — they will hang on, fight­ing tooth and nail — are just that.

Let’s briefly look back at some impor­tant mile­stones in the death of DRM dur­ing 2008:

Also, it’s worth not­ing that Apple also has final­ly set­tled on a tiered pric­ing scheme for music on the iTunes Store. Apple had argued against this with a firm 99¢ pric­ing scheme for, well, since the iTunes Music store was cre­at­ed. How­ev­er, it appears that this was like­ly a require­ment on behalf of some music labels to go DRM free store-wide (it should be not­ed that the Ama­zon MP3 has had vari­able pric­ing from its incep­tion). As some­one who does­n’t tend to buy any­thing off the top 40 sin­gles list, I’m not as like­ly to suf­fer from the $1.29 price that is most­ly like­ly to apply there. I’ll hope­ful­ly be tend­ing towards the 69¢ back-cat­a­log items. How­ev­er, it’s a small price to pay (lit­er­al­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly) for a bet­ter experience.

MacWorld SF

Mac­World will hap­pen one more time, as they’ve already booked the Moscone for next year. And should any­thing worth my men­tion­ing hap­pen, I’ll say it then. How­ev­er, I’d be very sur­prised if it sur­vives beyond that. Apple wants total con­trol over their announce­ment and release sched­ule in the future. They no longer wish to be tied down to the sec­ond Tues­day of the year. They’ll no doubt con­tin­ue to make their sea­son­al-ish, keynote style press con­fer­ences (macs in the Win­ter, devel­op­ers in the Spring, iPhones in the Sum­mer, and iPods in the Fall). But they can time them more to their lik­ing and con­trol the event just as they wish. As many of the large expos are going extinct (E3 dead/ on life sup­port, CES now a fan­boy con­ven­tion for gad­get lovers, and Apple bow­ing out of Mac­World), one has to won­der if blogs and online tech-news sites aren’t the ongo­ing expos of the future.

  1. With the notable absence of last year. With a new job and pend­ing move, Mac­World seemed less impor­tant that usu­al []
  2. Though, I have a copy of iWork ’05, I can’t say that I’ve ever used it reg­u­lar­ly. As a mat­ter of fact, some­thing on my cur­rent mac has cor­rupt­ed the instal­la­tion and it has­n’t worked in over a year. []
  3. Just as Jason John­son, own­er of some mad lap­top bat­tery man­age­ment skil­lz. []
  4. Angela is right, they should call it the iStore for con­sis­ten­cy. I also think that it is time to re-brand iTunes as iMe­dia or some­thing less music-cen­tric. []