Steve Jobs presented a nearly flawless two-hour keynote address at Macworld SF 2003. Many people had predicted that today’s presentation would be short on good news and long on hyping existing products. They were wrong.
After opening with the usual “business” segment of the show, that included a retail store update, mentions of iCal and iSync, and some discussion about .Mac, Steve Jobs got down to business.
I could tell by his energy on stage that he was excited about the news he had to share today. And that excitement translated into a smooth, well-paced address that kept the audience entertained for what would be considered a long time, even by motion picture standards.
Jobs began with some really good news about the iPod. It has become the #1 MP3 player in the US with a 43 percent market share. He introduced a nifty ski jacket made by Burton that has controls for the iPod built into the sleeve — for $499. But other than that, no real news on this front.
New Audio Software
Dave Lebolt from Digidesign came out to introduce Pro Tools — everything you need to put together and finish an audio project. This is serious software used by music industry pros.
Steve then came back on stage to introduce Phil Schiller, who announced Final Cut Express, a consumer version of the powerful Final Cut Pro video editing application. It will sell for only $299 (compared to $999 for the pro version).
Big Digital Hub News
Steve then took the spotlight again to talk about the Digital Hub. It’s been 2 years since Apple announced this strategy (right here at Macworld). He began by announcing iPhoto 2, which is now integrated with iTunes, has one-click Enhance, Retouch Brush, and has direct transfer to iDVD. The Retouch Brush in particular is impressive.
He then moved to the announcement of iMovie 3, which introduces Precise Audio Editing and a neat trick called the Ken Burns Effect. Just like with iPhoto, your entire iTunes library now shows up in the Audio palette. Sound effects have been included from Sky Walker studios — a nice touch. The Ken Burns Effect design is outstanding. The integration with iDVD is seamless.
iDVD 3 includes 24 new themes, which look very professional. I was very impressed with the creativity and craftsmanship used to create these themes. As a nice touch, Apple is lowering the price on blank DVDs to $3 a piece.
All of these digital hub pieces are now integrated into something called “iLife,” which is a shrinkwrap product that will available on Jan. 25th for $49. Or, you can download iPhoto, iTunes, and iMovie for free if you’re want to save yourself some money. The latest version of iDVD will be bundled on new Macs with SuperDrives, or as part of the iLife package, but isn’t available as a download.
The Safari Browser
Then a biggie. Steve announced Safari — a turbo browser for the Mac. Not only is it the fastest browser for the Mac, it has some nice innovations, such as “Snap Back” for Google users, a new approach to managing Bookmarks, and a great UI. They even added a “bug report” button in the upper right corner. It’s based on the open source rendering engine KHTML (the source code is posted), and it’s fully standards based. And the best part, you can download the beta version for free today.
Keynote Presentation Software
This graphics intensive application is for robust slideshow presentations that Steve has been secretly using for the last year for his keynotes. Keynote has full Quartz graphics support, including alpha channels with professional quality resizing and rotation.
The tables and charts functionality is slick. I really like the ability to easily bring graphics into the charts for added zip. Also built in are a variety of very sharp looking themes to add high production value to your presentations. It’s compatible with PowerPoint. And it’s an open file format (XML based). Amazingly enough, is sells for only $99 and is available today. Everyone in the auditorium got a copy for free. Cool.
“Year of the Notebook”
Then Jobs unveiled a 17″ PowerBook that’s still only 1″ thick. The resolution is 1440 by 900 pixels. The keyboard lights up when the lights go down using a fiber optic lighting system. The new notebook weighs in 6.8 pounds. The material is aircraft aluminum that is anodized so it won’t scratch. Plus it includes FireWire 800 (in addition to FireWire 400). Bluetooth is built in.
As part of the new notebook demo, Steve announced Airport Extreme that runs at 54 Mbs using 802.11g, which is also fully compatible with existing 802.11b. It all works together. The new card is built in to the PowerBook and the antennas have been repositioned to extend the PowerBook’s range to equal that of the iBook. The new 17″ PowerBook sells for $3,299 and will be available in February.
As an aside, the new AirPort Base Station features AirPort Extreme including USB printing plus a batch of new features and will sell for $199.
Just One More Thing …
And there was just one more thing … and a pretty good one at that.
Jobs announced the 12″ PowerBook weighing in at 4.6 pounds, with a 867 MHz G4 processor, a slot-loading combo drive, AirPort Extreme wireless, and1024 x 768 resolution that sells for $1,799. This “most affordable PowerBook ever” will ship in 2 weeks. You can build it to order with a SuperDrive for $1,999.
The presentation concluded with a couple of commercials, one of them quite good, and a closing jab from Jobs referring to rumor site predictions of a dull keynote, “Well, I guess you can’t always believe everything you read.”