Macworld Expo 2006 Keynote

Dan Knight - 2006.01.10

More and more, Apple is becoming the digital media company, not just the computer company it used to be. Apple sold 32 million iPods last year compared under 5 million Macs.

To date, Apple has sold 42 million iPod, 850 million tracks through the iTunes Music Store (iTMS), and over 8 million videos. The hottest selling video right now is a 15 minute Rose Bowl wrap-up produced by ABC Sports and ESPN.

In new content, Steve Jobs announced that Saturday Night Live content is now available through iTMS.

Jobs also announced a new $49 wired remote and FM tuner for the iPod nano and video iPod. Also, Chrysler has announce "major iPod support" and expects to sell 3 million cars with the option of iPod support this year. Jobs says that 40% of cars sold this year will have an iPod option.

Software

This is Macworld, so the focus next shifted to the Mac. Aperture, Apple's post-production software for digital images, is a huge hit with professional photographers. It's not only powerful, but also easy to use and fast.

There are over 1,500 widgets available for Tiger's Dashboard, and Apple announced several new ones: Google search, Address Book, snow conditions, a new calendar, white pages phone numbers, and sports (in conjunction with ESPN).

These new widgets are included with the Mac OS X 10.4.4 update, which is freely available today.

iLife

iLife '06 remains "miles ahead of anything on the PC" and has updates for all five modules. iPhoto is now "incredibly fast" and supports up to 250,000 photos. New are full-screen editing, comparison views, and one-click effects.

iPhoto books are better than ever with improved printing, and Apple has added calendars and cards to the mix. iPhoto '06 also adds something new - photocasting. Photocasting allows you to select which photos you want to share, uploads them to your .mac account, and makes them available via RSS feed. This sounds like a great way to share your photos with others who use iLife 0'06.

iMovie

iMovie introduces animated themes, and now allows you to work on more than one project at a time. Other new features include export to iPod and video podcasts.

iDVD

The 2006 version of iDVD supports widescreen and adds "magic iDVD" - just drag your content and let iDVD master the disc for you.

Perhaps the nicest feature of iDVD is support for third-party burners, something Apple has never done before.

GarageBand

If ever a product needed a new name, GarageBand is it. Yes, it has all those wonderful features for mixing your own music, but for 2006 it adds a host of new features related to podcasting.

GarageBand adds voice enhancement and ducking, which automatically reduces the level of your music track during speech. It also lets you record iChat interviews to create your own podcasts.

GarageBand has gone well beyond its music roots and may well be the best podcast studio software on the market.

iWeb

iLife is "all about expressing ourselves creatively," and the Web is one venue where we do that. iWeb is designed so anyone can create beautiful web pages easily. It may be time to retire Claris Home Page here at Low End Mac.

iWeb lets you work with all your digital media - photos, movies, tunes - and works in conjunction with .mac so you can publish personal pages, blogs, share podcasts, etc. It even handles RSS so others can subscribe to your podcasts.

iLife '06 remains US$79, and a five-user family pack retails for US$99. iLife '06 is included with all new Macs.

iWork

iWork adds 3D charts, integrated image editing, and the ability to create tables that perform calculations.

Hardware

Apple sold 1.25 million Macs during the holiday quarter and close to 5 million during 2005. Apple promised to ship the first Intel-based Macs by June 2006 and complete the transition within one year.

As widely rumored and suspected, Apple unveiled the first Intel-based Mac today. But it wasn't the Mac mini or iBook, which most had seen as the most likely candidates.

iMac 2006

Surprisingly, it's the iMac that's the first shipping Macintel model. Spec for spec, feature for feature it's pretty much what Apple introduced in October. The big difference is the presence of Intel Core Duo CPUs instead of G5s.

The 17" iMac has a 1.83 GHz Core Duo and retails for US$1,299. The 20" model runs at 2.0 GHz and retails for US$1,699. Mac OS X 10.4.4, iLife '06, and iWork '06 are entirely native for Intel, and the Pro apps will be native in March.

Apple and Microsoft tell us that Microsoft Office for Mac runs just fine under Rosetta, Apple's PowerPC emulator for Intel-based Macs.

Jobs also told the audience that the entire Mac line will be Intel-based by the end of the calendar year.

One More Thing

The PowerBook G5 never saw the light of day because the G5 offered less performance per watt than the G4 (0.23 and 0.27 respectively). The new Intel Core Duo offers vastly improved performance per watt - 1.05, which is 4-5x what the PowerPC processors offered.

With that transition from PowerPC chips to Intel, Apple is abandoning the PowerBook name. The new 15.4" MacBook Pro will ship in February. It's Apple's thinnest PowerBook yet, and the screen is its brightest - as bright as the 30" Cinema Display.

Like the iMac, the MacBook Pro has built-in iSight and a receiver for Apple's remote. Front Row software will be included with the new notebook computer.

The MacBook Pro will be available in two configurations: 1.67 GHz for US$1,999 and 1.83 GHz for US$2,499. Although that may not sound like much of an improvement, the Core Duo processors will make the MacBook 4-5x as fast as the 1.67 GHz PowerBook G4.

Low End Mac hopes to offer profiles of the new iMacs and forthcoming MacBook Pro later in the day. LEM

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