Mac News Today

Macworld 2000 San Francisco Special Report

Dan Knight - 2000.01.05 - Tip Jar

Lots of news at Steve Jobs' keynote speech today, although we missed a fair bit of it due to Internet access problems - this was not a good day for our ISP to move. :-(

Hardware

iBookApple sold 1.35 million computers in the last quarter and now has 11% market share in the US portable computer market.

Jobs announced that the iBook was the best selling portable computer in October and November, the only months for which data is currently available. Among iBook buyers, 11% were buying their first computer, 17% were Wintel users, and an astounding 56% were buying their first portable computer ever.

The new iMac has also been a resounding success, and Apple has been unable to keep up with demand for the graphite iMac DV Special Edition. Latest figures show 30% of iMac buyers are buying their first computer, 14% are Wintel converts, and 2 out of 3 did not seriously consider any other computer.

Jobs apparently prefaced this with some information on the Power Mac G4 and PowerBook G3, but due to connection problems, I missed it.

Software

Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 was announced as 50% faster and available for download in February. AppleWorks 6 will also debut in February, including a presentation module.

Peripherals

Steve was pretty excited about a USB microscope, a VST portable RAID drive (100 GB, four removable drives, FireWire, and the ability to run off a PowerBook battery), and AirPort - which is now supported on all Macs.

Digital Video

Already 10% of all iMac DV owners have created at least on iMovie - and a lot more plan on doing so in the coming months.

Beyond the Box

I expected Jobs to announce new hardware after showing the four-product grid and saying Apple was moving beyond the box. Instead, he talked about Apple's internet strategy, which is already rooted in QuickTime, the Mac OS, apple.com, and The Apple Store. He also revealed that the entire Apple Store is run on Mac OS X Server (Microsoft, take notes!).

Apple will be building on that strength with three new items on their site: iReview, iCards, and iTools. These are available on Apple's site now.

iReview

Where's a web user to go for the best information on ____? Start at iReview, Apple's resource that already has reviews for over 250 web sites and will add about 250 per month. Visitors will be able to rate reviewed sites and add their own comments, but only if they have OS 9 and iTools (below).

iCards

The internet greeting card thing is apparently quite big, but the quality doesn't compare with Hallmark. Vowing to run "the Apple" of online card sites, Jobs showed the quality images Apple will be using. And, unlike most services, the cards will be sent via email - the recipient will not need web access to view them.

iTools

The third new section is the most ambitious. it's also the most disappointing to those who haven't yet upgraded to Mac OS 9. (Count me in.)

Four new features will be available from Apple exclusively to Mac OS 9 users: KidSafe, Mac.com, iDisk, and HomePage.

KidSafe integrates with the multi-user capabilities of OS 9 to create a child-safe web not by filtering out bad sites (since some are always missed), but by working with an approved list of sites. The list is created by teachers and librarians and already contains over 50,000 sites. Apple expects to add 10,000 sites per month to KidSafe. (Hope Low End Mac makes their approved list!)

Mac.com is Apple's free email service. Unlike many free email services which can only be viewed with a web browser, Mac.com is fully POP compliant, so you can use your favorite email client. (I'm not sure why this would require OS 9.)

iDisk provides 20 MB of online storage you can access from home, work, school, or any Mac with OS 9 connected to the Internet. This includes a public folder where anyone who knows your logon ID can access files. Personal photos on your iDisk, which mounts just like a folder on your desktop, can be used for iCards.

Finally, HomePage is your own personal website, complete with templates for photo albums and iMovies. You can share photos and movies from your iDisk using your HomePage.

All of these are free to OS 9 users.

Internet Service

Apple has 25 million customers - that's even more than America Online! So their decision to choose an internet service partner will mean a lot to Earthlink, who is now the default ISP for all new Macintosh hardware.

Second only to AOL, Earthlink already works hard to support the Mac. Apple's partnership should only strengthen that.

OS X Client

Better late than never, Jobs vowed that OS X Client will be shipping on all Macs in one year. The beta will be done this Spring, and users will be able to buy it (like Windows betas?) this Summer.

Killer graphics are a core component of OS X Client, including OpenGL for 3D graphics and PDF as a native file format.

The new user interface is very fluid, so Apple calls it Aqua. You will be able to resize icons, the dock (like the application bar or HoverBar), and do a whole lot more.

Email will be a component of the OS, so you won't need Emailer, Outlook Express, Eudora, or any other email client. (That said, you may still want a different email client.)

The new Finder has been improved, but not changed to the point of feeling alien to Mac users. Adopting a feature familiar from browsers and many applications, Finder windows will have a few icons - which I couldn't make out clearly and missed the explanation.

All Together Now

A few years ago, the experts were saying Apple should split itself into software and hardware companies. It was the last vertically integrated computers company and wouldn't survive.

Instead, as Jobs noted, that has driven Apple's comeback. No other computer company can claim 100% responsibility for the user experience. Microsoft may create the OS and specify what the hardware needs, but that's the extent of their control.

Apple, on the other hand, can jump ahead with things like USB, iMovie, and FireWire because they create both the hardware and the operating system. This is why Apple is the leading innovator in the computer industry.

Interim No Longer

Steve Jobs announced that after 2-1/2 years back at Apple, he is dropping "interim" from his title. But because he loves the title iCEO, he'll keep using it, seeing himself as the Internet CEO. :-)

Reflection

Cool, a word Jobs used repeatedly, describes Apple. With the new iTools, they have finally created a compelling reason for Mac owners to upgrade to OS 9. In fact, iReview will make you feel like a second-class citizen without it, since you won't be able to provide feedback (just like Windows users who use iReview).

But the big shock was the complete lack of new hardware announcements. Steve didn't unveil Pismo, a faster iMac, an iBook with more memory, or a more powerful PowerMac G4.

Everyone knows they'll all come eventually, but Steve didn't even hint at new hardware, other than his comment that all current hardware support FireWire. (Lombard, the current PowerBook G3, doesn't.)

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