OK, so here I am with towel in hand, wiping egg from face after my failed MacWorld prediction. I’ve been predicting the appearance of an Apple-branded integrated DVR/MP3/Rendezvous’d home entertainment component for more than a year. It hasn’t come true yet, but I know it will, because it makes sense, and because so far all we’ve seen are underfunded entrepreneurs chipping away at the edges of the concept, rather than tackling it head-on.
Instead we got Mini iPods that don’t make any financial sense (to the consumer - though they certainly make good sense to Apple). Jobs claimed they were trying to go after the upper end of the Flash-based player market, but I think the real deal is that this is a play for teenyboppers who love to accessorize. Crap deal or not, they’ll sell a zillion of them.
G5 XServe, darn right. Glad to see it, but no surprises there. Had to do it. Kudos to the engineers who figured out how to cool the beast in a 1U space. Some cool footage of the G5-based Virginia Tech supercomputer. 1100 G5s. 2200 processors. 3rd fastest supercomputer in the world, at a tiny fraction of the cost of the next fastest. Apple has completely rocked the supercomputer world. The guy who called Apple to place the order for the 1100 G5s had never bought a Mac before in his life.
Arrived too late to catch the replay of the original 1984 commercial for the 20th anniversary of the Mac, but did see a variety of original Macs scattered around at historical booths. It blows the mind to see how far we’ve come… and to think that even those primitive little boxes with tiny screens and no hard drives were leading the industry in their own time.
The introduction of GarageBand to the iLife suite was pretty impressive, especially with John Mayer in person on keys and guitar. Anyone who’s played with Soundtrack can see that Apple has basically repackaged its guts — removed the video soundtrack-specific elements and wrapped it in hipper packaging. Nothing wrong with that. It’s the most intuitive multitrack editing, looping, etc. i’ve experimented with. Can’t wait to play with it more. As Mayer said, “If I had had this when I was 13, I never would have left my room.” Ahem.
The downside: More incentive for people not to learn to make real music. GarageBand and similar apps make it too damned easy to sound good.
On the flipside, plug a real instrument into GarageBand and you can do some pretty awesome stuff. The MIDI guitar sounds Mayer was generating via keyboard were incredible - realistic attack, pitch bending, fingertips touching string spirals. Amazing. Mayer claimed it was the first time he had heard software-based guitar sounds he’d actually want to record with. Not sure what he was paid to say that, but it sounded convincing.
There are revolutionary MacWorlds and there incremental MacWorlds. In all, I’d say this one was incremental. But there was one really revolutionary thing I saw - a guy in a wheelchair at the same height as standing men and women. He was a crippled Vietnam Vet in an iBot 3000 — a chair designed by Dean Kamen, who also invented the Segway. The iBot uses gyroscopes to balance, just like the Segway, and lets handicapped drivers climb stairs, traverse rough terrain, reach tall shelves, and stand at the same height as everyone else. Said he was riding one of 12 existing prototypes in the world. A thing of beauty to see in action (yes, I know the iBot 3000 isn’t a brand new technology; in fact the Segway stemmed out of work on the iBot, AFAIK. But it was still strange and magical to see one in person.
Did you see anything at MacWorld that really turned your crank?