Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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Macworld 09: Apple blows expectations

All about the software

Daniel Eran Dilger

Predictably, there was great disappointment with Macworld Expo 09. But when has there not been, outside of the iPhone announcement (which many pundits tried their best to blow off as too expensive and likely to be immediately copied by more entrenched smartphone competitors)?
Rather than rolling out the expected Mac mini and a new iMac and that wildly improbable Apple tablet UMPC or cheapo netbook that the pundits thought might happen, Apple instead set expectations low by announcing that Phil Schiller rather than Steve Jobs would be presenting the keynote. This show couldn’t possibly humiliate CES, unless that show were equally tepid.

Innovation: Apple at Macworld vs Microsoft at CES
CES: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

It’s All About the Software.

software 09

Schiller spent seemingly forever touting the new features of the new iLife and iWork. The web complained even as the keynote was going on: where is the hardware? Never mind that iLife’s iPhoto geotagging Places and faces recognition Faces features are pretty cool stuff. Integration with Facebook’s identity tagging is also cool.

GarageBand’s new Learn to Play is also not just cool, but a wildly new, innovative way to deliver something that’s not only a new product category (Apple is now selling music training to consumers) but also a great way to get people interested in both learning and music.

Apple’s Office Goes Online.

The new features in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are also nice, but the really big news is iWork.com, which delivers upon the SproutCore promise first suggested by MobileMe. Apple just assumed the position of Google Docs, tied to a real office suite that is arguably the most significant competitor to Microsoft Office, certainly on the Mac.

Cocoa for Windows + Flash Killer = SproutCore
Apple’s open secret: SproutCore is Cocoa for the Web

Apple has taken its productivity apps online, first in a beta program, but will eventually start charging money for it, just like MobileMe. This is big stuff, but it’s not hardware so punditry is yawning. What could catch their attention? An impractical gadget like the UMPC that nobody would buy just as the recession is starting?

Mobile EEE PC, UMPC, and Internet Tablets vs the iPhone

Or how about a $300 mini-laptop netbook to compete with both the iPhone and the MacBooks for sales and developer attention? Yeah that would be freaking brilliant.

New Hardware, Or At Least Part of It.

No, instead Apple popped out the 17“ unibody MacBook Pro we all knew was coming eventually, except that this high end model delivers a matte screen option for $50 that should draw in those pros who hate the consumer-glossy screens, as well as new battery technology that delivers a huge boost in battery life and in battery life time, so great that the new model sports an Air-like integrated battery that doesn’t come out. No replaceable battery on a high end, full size 17” laptop? That’s crazy… like a fox.

It’s also the smartest hardware product Apple could release right now. It also suggests that the new Mac mini and iMac based on NVIDIA graphics and sporting a Mini DisplayPort will be released in a separate Mac event this spring. Apple didn’t even mention Snow Leopard, indicating there’s going to be yet another event for that later this year.

No need to overload the Macworld Expo keynote with rich releases; Apple is indicating that the January event doesn’t matter too much any more. The company will now release products when it wants rather than the awkwardly positioned January event, right on the tails of December holiday sales.

Why Did Apple Bail On Macworld Expo?

There’s much more to be said about iWork.com and the new iLife and iWork (which is already available), so stay tuned.

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43 comments

1 Jon T { 01.06.09 at 4:50 pm }

Happy New year Dan. Whatever anyone else says, this was a great Macworld for me. That 17″ MBP is just what I want in a photog’s field laptop. The other stuff was great too. What presenter isn’t going to want to have that iPhone app and use Keynote??

2 gus2000 { 01.06.09 at 4:58 pm }

I’ve wanted face-recognition ever since I saw Ed Deline use it at the Montecito. That’s gotta be the coolest feature yet of iPhoto.

If there’s anyone that’s willing to give me $3000 for my left arm, I need a MBP17.

3 nat { 01.06.09 at 5:35 pm }

Glad to have you back Daniel. The presentation was even a bit better than what you’ve described thus far, i.e., DRM-free iTunes! Now we get to look forward to those iMac and Mac mini updates and as you note, the inevitable Snow Leopard demo!! :)

Can’t wait to see the tech media pour cold water on all Apple’s software announcements today and then turn right around for a Windows 7 vaporware shower orgy to little fanfare (especially after that little Zune30 leap year surprise).

4 John E { 01.06.09 at 6:09 pm }

well, the inevitable death of music DRM is nonetheless Big News. and all the new bells and whistles for iLife and iWork are very nice – no other Windows software can match iLife ’09, and taking iWork into the “cloud” is a crucial strategic goal.

but clearly Apple is holding back the Big package – Snow Leopard with a transformed Mini and updated iMacs – for a major upcoming Apple-only roll-out event. proving i guess they don’t need MacWorld anymore. i just hope they don’t make us wait 6 months until WWDC for it, that would really piss me off since my 2006 Mini really needs replacing.

Dan blows off the importance of an Apple netbook/tablet, but this time he is very wrong. that lower-priced market segment is taking off like wildfire – especially given our economic downtown – and if Apple waits until ’10 to offer a product it will too late – game, set, and probably match to Windows.

and what about AppleTV? time is running out, all the competition is moving ahead fast with great new services, like Netflix, Slingbox, HP, and yes even XBox. either fish or cut bait.

5 John Muir { 01.06.09 at 6:15 pm }

Before the keynote, I had a go at collecting the various rumours I thought made sense and making something of a menu for Phil Schiller’s options:
http://www.johnsessays.blogspot.com/2009/01/philler.html

What I should have done, of course, was make more of a point that it would not be all of them! It never is. Expecting a hundred different things at once is always the mistake people make at Macworld.

Apple would be stupid to announce too much all in the one go. So Phil didn’t. It was all meticulously structured instead, just like Steve’s before. Why waste the spotlight on a multitude of things when you can have the web focussed on iLife and iWork for a change? Well… and that tasty new top of the line MacBook Pro.

Apple is damn right playing things at it’s own pace. Minis, iMacs, AppleTVs and Snow Leopard all in good time.

But I’m still a bit miffed at the Cinema Display no-show! (Ducks!)

6 davebarnes { 01.06.09 at 6:39 pm }

I want my 28-inch iMac with 8GB of RAM.

7 nat { 01.06.09 at 7:21 pm }

Dan blows off the importance of an Apple netbook/tablet, but this time he is very wrong. that lower-priced market segment is taking off like wildfire – especially given our economic downtown – and if Apple waits until ‘10 to offer a product it will too late – game, set, and probably match to Windows.

I’ve seen no proof that netbook sales are eating into Apple’s premium laptops. Netbook sales are eating into similarly low-priced, full-size, profitless Windows laptops, so people in the market for junky laptops are simply choosing more portable junky laptops over their clunky full-size cousins.

A tablet makes no sense because it would either require the user to arch their back to type on the thing on a flat surface, or uncomfortably angle their wrists if propped up at a comfortable viewing angle.

and what about AppleTV? time is running out, all the competition is moving ahead fast with great new services, like Netflix, Slingbox, HP, and yes even XBox. either fish or cut bait.

Hahah, give me a break! Xbox sales have been flat for months and the Netflix “service” is hardly a boon. I know, I have a 360 and a Netflix account. The first movie froze the machine entirely requiring a restart, then it stuttered, then said “adjusting video quality” which resulted in horribly compressed video. Most of the content on there is quite old and TV shows only become available at the end of the season with the DVD release!

8 John Muir { 01.06.09 at 7:24 pm }

@John E

Ah, netbooks. How do you reckon Apple should make any profit from them?

Netbooks = small, cheap laptops. Cheap cheap. As in razor thin profits.

Even if they do really take off, they really are all about the cheap. The idea seems to be to undercut even the low end of mainstream laptops by skimping on everything and relying on the web and WiFi (or 3G tethering?) to take the strain. Real modern day thin clients indeed. Cheap thin!

Apple already has a low priced and deliciously miniscule portable. It comes with or without the 3G subscription, and has this nifty interface and an App Store.

What could a hypothetical Apple netbook do other than tread all over the iPhone and MacBooks while making very little profit? Hold off a supposed resurgence of Win XP!?

Google are winning more power over Netbook users than MS or anyone else. Without web services, a netbook is just a crappy laptop.

9 Ludor { 01.06.09 at 7:41 pm }

Welcome back, Dan.

Few people seem to realize the breakthrough of a DRM-free iTunes Store. And Phil did a very good job, kept the tempo high, while also underlining that Apple isn’t all about Steve.

Besides, I’m glad there came no iE7 Mac Pro. It means my machine is still awesomely fast. :/

10 mikeg { 01.06.09 at 7:42 pm }

Well, I do admit that I was a bit disappointed at the lack of an updated Mac Mini and iMac release as I have pondered getting a replacement for the Mini I am currently using, but as you indicated, that is very likely to occur at a future Apple-only event. That being said, the new 17 inch MBP looks pretty dag gone good to me as well, although I will most likely spring for iWork 09 as my first purchase before I do anything. I will have to ponder the significance of iWork.com a bit more, but it seems that small businesses would benefit from this capability.

Exceptional insight as always. Thanks Daniel.

11 Harvey Lubin { 01.06.09 at 7:47 pm }

Apple’s decision not to continue using an annual trade show, MacWorld, to announce new products is a sensible move. Expectations always rise before each MacWorld, and they are rarely met. Also, Apple’s involvement in these trade shows is a huge expense, and not worth the money put into it.

What Apple has been doing lately, hosting a special media event when the company is ready to announce new products, is the smart way to go.

The only negative comments I have concerning today’s MacWorld keynote are:

1) If the company made the decision to drop out of these events, they should not have announced it to the world so shortly before the show. They should have made the announcement shortly after last year’s show, and then not shown up for this year’s event.

2) Considering that Apple made a commitment to keynote this year’s MacWorld, they should have used this last opportunity to announce something substantial. By having Phil Schiller deliver a lack-luster presentation with no product announcements worthy of the effort and expense, Apple has only hurt itself (as seen by the share price drop).

3) There was not even a mention of Snow Leopard. This is a pivotal release, especially in light of the current media buzz about Windows 7. This new operating system is of much greater importance than a new iLife update. If Apple decided, for whatever reason, not to put on a demo of Snow Leopard today, they should have at least made some mention of when a beta will be released and what the anticipated release date will be. After all Microsoft have already announced that a beta of Windows 7 will be released this month, and that they hope to have the final out before the end of 2009.

The 17″ MacBook Pro looks like a good companion to the 15″ model, but at that price Apple needs to remember that companies such as HP, Dell, and Lenovo have already come out with quad-core 17″ notebooks… in the same price range.

We can only hope that Apple won’t wait too long before the invitations go out for another media event. There are too many Apple products (Mac mini, Mac Pro, iMac, 20″ & 30″ Apple Cinema Displays, Apple TV, etc.) that have been languishing for much too long, and are in dire need of updates (go to http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/ to see how long these products have gone without updates).

It’s no wonder that Steve Jobs bailed on today’s keynote ;-)

12 greendave { 01.06.09 at 7:58 pm }

Apple makes more profit on a MacBook that the current crop of netBooks actually sell for retail. There is no way Apple would risk a single MacBook sale by offering OSX on a cheap, stupidly low-margin product. Think business, not technology. Nor is Apple loosing any sales to the current netBooks – you don’t make a choice between a fully functional MacBook and a crippled tech toy running crap software. Perhaps you might consider whether you need a netBook or an iPhone and choose between them. Steve explained quite clearly in the last conference call, he has no interest in being in a low-margin sector selling poor quality products.

13 John Muir { 01.06.09 at 8:15 pm }

@Harvey

Re: Windows 7, Apple just plain ignored Vista as it lurched to release. Indeed, engineers were taken off Leopard and used on the iPhone. Tiger – a 2005 release OS – was left to be compared with Redmond’s very latest.

You know what? It won.

Expect the same steely focus within Apple on it’s own needs in the future too. Cupertino doesn’t seem so obsessed with release-date roulette as the vapor-salesman at MS.

14 Nick Barron { 01.06.09 at 8:36 pm }

I was hoping that Macworld would drag you back to Roughly Drafted :)

15 lmasanti { 01.06.09 at 10:47 pm }

quote:
“and if Apple waits until ‘10 to offer a product it will too late – game, set, and probably match to Windows.”

Apple wait to introduce a cell phone… Game set?

16 David Chin { 01.06.09 at 10:48 pm }

Thanks for a nice write-up – most of the others were just rants about why there weren’t more announcements on sexy new hardware.

Personally, I was blown away by the updates to the iLife and iWork products. It’s comforting to know Apple isn’t resting on its laurels.

17 lmasanti { 01.06.09 at 10:55 pm }

quote:
“After all Microsoft have already announced that a beta of Windows 7 will be released this month, and that they hope to have the final out before the end of 2009.”

As usual, Microsoft “promises,” Apple “delivers.”

Remember El Alam… err… Remember Cairo, Longhorn, Vista…

18 John E { 01.06.09 at 10:57 pm }

@ nat

sorry, guy, but your facts are just plain wrong. XBox 360 is having its best sales year ever, steadily trending upward, leaving the PS3 falling behind. check the sales reports on the web in recent months if you don’t believe me. and MS is working, slowly, to finally integrate its various on-line and media programs and hardware into a single ‘convergence’ setup. maybe by 2010. as to Netflix, with all its partnering agreements and particularly combined with TiVo, it’s a great service for a lot of us who like back catalogue movies in addition to getting new BluRay releases via mail, both cheaper than iTunes, including me, if not you. when SlingBox adds the ability soon to stream TV from my TiVo to my iPhone, i’ll buy one of those too, because i will definitely use it. This is all much more advanced technically and more fun than AppleTV is today. i assume Apple could do these things too, but so far, it ain’t.

@ John Muir

like Nat, you’re assuming a Mac netbook would be a down sized laptop. why? i don’t. why not an upsized Touch? or a no-lid, all touch tablet? Apple is at its best reinventing old ideas in a new and better way. Jobs himself said last summer they were monitoring the netbook situation closely and had some good ideas what to do if it became an important market. well, it has. so now it’s time for Apple to follow through on those good ideas. it’s not about the price – the Apple product will always cost some more initially than the cheap stuff. it’s about the value to the consumer for the whole package including software (iPhone apps sure are cheap) and the amount of upkeep required (a lot more for Windows). And business-wise, forfeiting a new market segment that clearly has a future would be a big strategic error.

19 enzos { 01.06.09 at 11:02 pm }

In agreement with some earlier posters, I think ‘tepid’ a bit harsh. That implies nothing special has been announced; whereas I just had a look at the iPhoto 9 video and think it’s dead-set brilliant! I’m even tempted move up to Leopard (with the iLife + iWork package… now that 10.5 is finally out of beta ;-).

20 lmasanti { 01.06.09 at 11:03 pm }

quote:
“Nor is Apple loosing any sales to the current netBooks…”

Usually, blogs and news sites cite Amazon 25 Top Selling List.
Usually, it is compose of 22 $500-netbooks and 3 $1K-2K-Macs.
And the first Mac is usually among the 10 first places.

21 lmasanti { 01.06.09 at 11:06 pm }

One thing that it is important to me is how Apple is growing in the subscription services market: first MobileMe, now iWork.com.

22 droughtquake { 01.07.09 at 12:33 am }

The Expo floor seemed fuller this year than last. There didn’t seem to be as many empty booths as there have been in the future.
And it was much nicer to have the North & South Halls instead of last year’s South & West Hall (West Hall is not connected underground to either of the other halls like the North & South Halls are).

23 nat { 01.07.09 at 12:56 am }

sorry, guy, but your facts are just plain wrong. XBox 360 is having its best sales year ever, steadily trending upward, leaving the PS3 falling behind. check the sales reports on the web in recent months if you don’t believe me.

Thanks for telling me the facts…oh wait, you didn’t. Celebrating sales numbers alone is silly, especially in regard to the Xbox 360. Woohoo, it’s doing better than the PS3. What about compared to the Wii? Uh…WOOHOO LOOK OVER HERE! The 360 had a head start, yet in its third year its sales are already flat, while the Wii is skyrocketing and the PS3′s sales have been steadily rising since last year despite cannibalization by its still very popular PS2, which was the second best selling console behind the Wii in 2007. The 360 doesn’t have to deal with that because support was totally dropped for their original Xbox – I know, I was a happy owner of one even when I had to replace for a new one when it stopped reading discs. I definitely made the right choice in waiting until last February to pick up a 360, when the Falcons went on sale after Microsoft finally attended to its console’s 40% failure rate.

and MS is working, slowly, to finally integrate its various on-line and media programs and hardware into a single ‘convergence’ setup. maybe by 2010.

Right…examples?

as to Netflix, with all its partnering agreements and particularly combined with TiVo, it’s a great service for a lot of us who like back catalogue movies in addition to getting new BluRay releases via mail, both cheaper than iTunes, including me, if not you.

Where does TiVo figure into the Xbox 360? o_O

You do realize you’re comparing Netflix’s subscription service (which requires $8/month at least for Netflix and $50/year for XBL) to Apple’s a la carte store, yes? Maybe you should compare it to Live’s Marketplace. Ooh, right, it’s selection is nothing compared to the iTunes Store (and Netflix’s InstantOn is even worse).

when SlingBox adds the ability soon to stream TV from my TiVo to my iPhone, i’ll buy one of those too, because i will definitely use it. This is all much more advanced technically and more fun than AppleTV is today. i assume Apple could do these things too, but so far, it ain’t.

False comparisons do not a valid argument make.

24 nat { 01.07.09 at 1:48 am }

Correction: by Netflix’s InstantOn I meant to say InstantWatch.

25 harrywolf { 01.07.09 at 1:55 am }

Dan, you’re back! Happy New Year!

Netbooks: Apple has two netbooks – the Macbook Air or the iPhone. One is$1800 and the other is $300 or a lot less if your carrier discounts. Your choice.

Buy an LG X110 for example. (I did, to try it) It has no App store, poor battery life, small but bright screen, no multiple finger trackpad moves, no Leopard OS (Yes, I know its a hack if you want, but you have to change the wireless card…yawn), no illuminated keyboard, etc.etc.
It runs the sort of alright, but horribly fearful XP system.

I am taking the LG X110 back (30 days return policy at cheap and nasty PC store) because the iPhone is a much better and MUCH smaller netbook, and the Air is a far superior netbook, and not much bigger, and thinner and beautiful design.

Whats not to like?

26 lowededwookie { 01.07.09 at 6:19 am }

I’m sorry but I keep hearing all these comments about there being no substantial releases at this year’s Keynote.

Just because there was only one piece of hardware doesn’t mean there wasn’t substantial releases.

I mean we now get advanced video editing, facial recognition, a true indication as to the real power of Leopard, an online collaboration service, DRM free music on 10,000,000 songs (anyone got any real idea what the three tiered pricing actually means?), Facebook and Flickr integration, FTP uploading, a new way of sorting data, a new way to edit documentation, need I go on?

If Leopard can do all of that smartly and efficiently imagine what it’s going to be like when Snow Leopard comes out.

27 John Muir { 01.07.09 at 9:35 am }

@John E

I hadn’t heard that tablet computers were being reclassified as netbooks…

Mobile Internet devices are the name you’re looking for. And Apple is already a technology and sales leader right there. If and when the time comes for a bigger iPod touch, it will be fascinating to see what it achieves. Especially given the platform divide that Apple has between Mac and touch. I reckon that must be closed first.

As for all the netbooks I’ve ever heard about: they’re trashy ultra low end laptops modelled on the ideas pioneered by the (failed) OLPC, altered to fit 1st world cheapskates instead of 3rd world children. The category may last a long time. Junk home desktops did.

28 nat { 01.07.09 at 11:03 am }

@harrywolf,

I am taking the LG X110 back (30 days return policy at cheap and nasty PC store) because the iPhone is a much better and MUCH smaller netbook, and the Air is a far superior netbook, and not much bigger, and thinner and beautiful design.

Well you certainly aren’t alone:

in the U.S…20 percent of [netbook] buyers return them

http://www.macworld.com/article/137307/2008/12/pcindustry.html

They said this high rate of return (nearly a quarter of all U.S. netbook buyers!) is because people in the U.S. haven’t “figured out” how to effectively use netbooks, which is odd speculation. So third world countries can figure them out, but we can’t!? Seems more likely, at least to me, that our higher incomes afford us more choice. That seems apparent in this sentence from the same article: “Netbooks are shipping in larger volumes in emerging markets because of their lower prices.

29 John E { 01.07.09 at 2:13 pm }

@ John Muir – i’m talking about the new market segment and consumer functions that netbooks are creating/filling, not that exact hardware configuration of a cheap small laptop your refer to. so far netbooks have been just a smaller computer with a smaller screen. but Apple doesn’t have to replicate that. what many need instead is something halfway between a mobile internet device and a full OS small computer. which is what the iPhone/Touch already is, with all its simplified single purpose apps (and more certain to come). but its pocket-sized display is too small to do many things conveniently. if it were just 2x larger it would be a great alternative to a laptop netbook for many who don’t need to work with complicated documents or powerful software. although the form factor and UI is very different it would be competing in the new netbook market segment against those cheap products you decry.

a somewhat larger no-lid tablet is the other approach Apple could take with its multitouch technology. that would support a full OS X and more complicated software like iLife. this would be much closer in concept to the netbooks we see now, not as revolutionary an idea. just a better version.

what we do know for sure is Jobs has told us Apple won’t be making any $500 small laptops. but i’d pay $499 for a 7″ Touch.

30 John E { 01.07.09 at 3:26 pm }

@ nat

- as to XBox’ growing success, here is the latest MS press release and the latest figures for November. you can’t argue with this, it’s real – the XBox is gaining momentum. the Wii is unrelated to my topic, which is AppleTV is competing – poorly – with XBox and others in the rapidly evolving home media center/convergence market segment. the Wii isn’t in that competition yet. i’m not talking about gaming. you missed my point.

http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/01-06-2009/0004950163&EDATE=

http://www.electronista.com/articles/08/12/12/wii.sales.top.2.million/

- MS strategic goal to somehow consolidate all its separate and varied Live and on-line services is no secret. it’s gong to take them a few years. in 2009 they plan to meld the Zune marketplace somehow with the Xbox marketplace for example, a rather obvious step they should have done from the start.

- i wrote about TiVo because it is another alternative – the best of several out their (like U-Verse too) – to AppleTV in the media center/convergence market segment. i was posting about ATV falling behind ALL its competition, of which XBox is just one of several, and not the best. you missed my point.

right now TiVo is the best, and a great deal. you buy a TiVo HD for $300 vs. $229 for AppleTV. you can then return your CATV HD set top box that costs $7 a month in rent, instead paying TiVo $8.50 a month for its service ($300 3-year contract), almost a wash. you get a $14 per month Netflix plan and easily rent 8 DVD’s (can be BluRay) via mail plus as many on-line movies as you want, let’s say 8 more. that 16 movies a month, less than $1 each, much cheaper and with a much bigger selection than ATV. you can copy the standard DVD’s if you are so inclined, which ATV does not allow.

on top of that, you can record HD CATV shows from all digital channels (the $150 EyeTV Hybrid only gets ClearQAM channels), then save and transfer them to your Mac with the $90 Toast software (which can do many other things too, much more than $30 QuickTime Pro). there is a lot of great music and other entertainment etc. you can add to your collection that way for free. you can stream your Mac music, videos, and photos to your TV/Media Center just like ATV. you can also stream Rhapsody if you prefer a subscription music service to iTunes. oh, and you can buy stuff from Amazon too, but that service is not as good as iTunes.

then or course you have an excellent home DVR that you can program remotely. being able to stream any TV channel to an iPhone/Touch anyplace will be the icing on the cake when SlingBox releases that $30 app in a few months, but it will also need a $300 SlingBox. hotel TV’s never have the channels i want.

add it all up and you can build a home media center around TiVo that totally beats the pants off AppleTV in nearly every way. dem’s the facts.

31 daGUY { 01.07.09 at 6:31 pm }

It makes absolutely no sense for Apple to release a netbook (at least, in the mold of the ones we have today). They’re antithetical to everything Apple values – cheap, low-cost components forced to run an old OS because they’re not powerful enough to run anything newer.

A friend of mine just got a Lenovo netbook recently. Let me just say, the experience of actually trying to use it is terrible. First of all, at 10″, the screen is WAY too small. Even with a browser window at full screen, you have to do way too much scrolling just to read a page.

Then, because the screen is 10″ and the keyboard is shrunk to the width of the screen, the actual keys are smaller than normal. This makes typing extremely difficult – if you don’t very carefully hit each key exactly, you end up typing two or even three letters at once. I found it impossible to type accurately unless I actually looked at the keyboard. Whenever we talk online, any time he types a contraction it comes out as two separate IMs because his finger misses the apostrophe key and hits Return instead. It’s laughable how poor of a design it is.

The trackpad and trackpad buttons are extremely small as well, which is also quite frustrating to use.

So I don’t see Apple doing anything like that. The Air is proof – they refused to use anything other than a full-size keyboard, and now I can certainly see why.

And so if Apple does decide to make a device that competed in this market, I’d expect it to be not a shrunken down, barely usable laptop, but rather an enlarged iPod Touch. They can take the Touch and build UP from that, rather than taking a laptop and dumbing it down to the point that it’s unusable.

32 nat { 01.07.09 at 8:39 pm }

@daGUY,

And so if Apple does decide to make a device that competed in this market, I’d expect it to be not a shrunken down, barely usable laptop, but rather an enlarged iPod Touch. They can take the Touch and build UP from that, rather than taking a laptop and dumbing it down to the point that it’s unusable.

While I agree with you – Apple won’t be making a netbook – I don’t see the logic in a tablet, whether based on the iPod touch or otherwise.

There are two main scenarios for using a tablet’s non-tactile, virtual keyboard, neither of which are really acceptable:

1. Placing the device on a flat surface requires the user to uncomfortably hunch their back and/or crane their neck over the screen in order to type with their wrists at a comfortable angle.

2. Placing the device at an angle for comfortable viewing (which presents its own problems, i.e., how to prop it up esp. when the user is not at a table/desk) requires the user to angle their wrists in an uncomfortable position to type.

These problems don’t exist for the Pod touch because it’s lightweight and small enough to be held in the user’s hands, while the virtual keyboard is small enough to be typed on with their thumbs.

So it seems a tablet would require an external, physical keyboard, though that wouldn’t really solve the two problems above.

If we’re going to see a Mac with a MultiTouch display, we’ll likely see it in Macs that already have MultiTouch functionality: the MacBook line with their oversized, glass, MultiTouch trackpads. Just replace those static pads with displays and you’ve got Daniel’s MacBook touch:
http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/09/01/a-product-transition-giving-macbooks-the-iphone-touch/

The best way to figure out what Apple’s going to do is process of logical/rational elimination.

33 The Mad Hatter { 01.07.09 at 10:43 pm }

I won’t use the Cloud version of IWork personally (I am paranoid about my data, and I won’t store it on the cloud). But if Apple makes this available to the enterprise, it could be just what some companies need to abandon MS.

And while I’ve never bought an ITunes track, I’m going to show my appreciation for DRM free music, by buying some.

34 T. Durden { 01.08.09 at 4:26 am }

If it was possible to make a functioning, nice looking kind of netbook, then one advantage would be the spreading of OS X to a broader public.

Perhaps there are more people out there like me, who didn’t really consider Mac until discovering the iPhone? A cheaper netbook (that also works well) could get them hooked on the Mac experience and motivate them to also consider purchasing a “standard” Mac.

35 Boycott Novell » IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: January 7th, 2009 { 01.08.09 at 7:11 am }

[...] Mac fans mourn a weak gig from Apple: http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2009/01/06/ma… [...]

36 mikeg { 01.08.09 at 7:37 am }

After reading the first look of iWork.com article by Prince McClean on AppleInsider, I have a better feel for what iWork.com is, and how it might be useful. I don’t fully understand cloud computing, and would not want my personal data files posted on a remote server either, but as a collaborative tool, I can see real benefits of iWork.com for business applications. I think Apple is on to something here.

37 daGUY { 01.08.09 at 2:18 pm }

@Nat: I agree, I don’t think tablets are the way to go. Personally, I think the iPhone/Touch are better solutions than netbooks anyway, so I don’t see why Apple would even need a direct netbook “competitor.”

I’m just speculating that IF they were to compete in that market head-on, I think they’d go in the direction of boosting the Touch rather than making an ultra-cheap low-quality low-margin laptop. But yes, there are issues with that design that would need to be worked out.

Just as a side note, I love how analysts were calling on Apple to release a $299 netbook at Macworld, and instead they did a total 180 and announced their most expensive laptop!

38 nat { 01.08.09 at 10:17 pm }

@daGUY,

Ah, I see. Yeah, a tablet is the only thing I could see Apple releasing to compete with the netbook market, but obviously neither are realistic (at least not from Apple; the other Steve will gladly try to sell you his Modbook).

Haha, I enjoyed that 17″ MacBook Pro trick too. :D

39 kris { 01.09.09 at 6:33 pm }

Apple has taken its productivity apps online, first in a beta program, but will eventually start charging money for it, just like MobileMe.

That’s not what Phil said at 1:06:20 – 1:06:30 of the keynote.
He said in the end it will be a free service.

40 VeoSotano { 01.11.09 at 5:42 pm }

Nice to hear from you Daniel! I have been missing Roughly Drafted. Happy New Year and all that crap ;)

VeoSotano

41 raist3d { 01.14.09 at 7:28 pm }

@nat

Actually Nat, sorry but Jon is wrong. The xbox 360 is selling very well. As for the Wii- yes, the Wii is selling in insane numbers but that doesn’t meant he Xbox is not carving a solid #2 position. To look at the Xbox 360 as a failed system would be similar in logic to say the Mac has failed because it has < 10% marketshare. There logic just doesn’t work.

The truth is the Xbox is selling better and better compared to before. The PS3 is not doing “doorstop bad” but it’s not selling as much mainly due to the price difference.

More importantly the 360 is making Microsoft money now. So I hate to say this but let’s take off the biased glasses for a second and look at facts on this.

http://www.vgchartz.com

If you think having 27.54 million units worldwise is a fail, I don’t know what to tell you.

- Raist

[Selling 27.5 million units across several years, spending billions to subsidize and then repair those units, all to have an installed base that is now on the verge of obsoleteness, is a fail. Microsoft is only "making money" in the sense that is isn't losing as much as it was. - Dan ]

42 raist3d { 01.14.09 at 7:29 pm }

@Nat – I meant sorry, but you are wrong, Jon is right. Oops.

43 Janus { 01.19.09 at 2:53 am }

“Whenever we talk online, any time he types a contraction it comes out as two separate IMs because his finger misses the apostrophe key and hits Return instead. It’s laughable how poor of a design it is.”

Sounds like what happens when I’m IMing on my iPhone ;)

If Apple would let me use a nifty foldable USB or Bluetooth keyboard with iPhone, I’d never consider a netbook.

As for the full-size keyboard issue, Apple should be commended for refusing to compromise on that. However, that can be done in a machine as wide as the 12″ PBG4, without all that superfluous space on both sides of the keyboard…

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