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MWSF Announcements Bring Goodness To Mac Users, But There May Be An Eventual Price

Just A Thought - MWSF Announcements Bring Goodness To Mac Users, But There May Be An Eventual Price

by , 12:00 PM EST, January 8th, 2003

The folks at 1 Infinite Loop have certainly been busy little bees. While it is true that we didn't get a new iPod, or a new PDA, or a nuclear powered, Apple-branded facial tissue dispenser, few can say that Steve Jobs wasn't kidding when he said he had two Macworlds worth of announcements to make. What's more, every last bit of it was positive, not even a bit of borderline bad news.

Like the consummate showman he is, Steve Jobs wowed the crowd today with so much Apple goodness that one could feel the Reality Distortion through the nearly flawless MPEG-4 QuickTime stream presentation of the keynote. As if by magic Mr. Jobs gave us new versions of iMovie, iPhoto and iDVD, and actually is giving us most of those apps for free, contrary to what many rumor sites (and some mainstream press) have stated.

He prestidigitally produced two new PowerBooks that left many mouths agape and wondrously waved his hands and made the completely new business application, Keynote, appear. I watched the keynote on my Cube and, at the end, I almost stood up and cheered. Now, I'm not a suspicious person but I hafta wonder what Mr. Jobs has up his other sleeve.

Why does he have to have something up his sleeve, you might wonder? He doesn't, but I can't see how even Apple can keep producing this increasingly amazing stuff and not charge an arm and a leg for it. Oh, I'm not complaining, mind you. I love the fact that I can get iPhoto 2, iTunes 3, iMovie 3, and iDVD 3 in a nice bundle and it will only set me back US$49 for the first 3 for free if I download them; and I appreciate Safari, Apple's new Web browser that is so fast it makes you wonder why other browsers are so very slow. Who can complain about Apple's adoption of the 802.11g wireless networking standard, or the nearly overlooked announcement of X11 for OS X, which allows you to seamlessly run X11 window applications natively in Aqua?

Many may see nothing but cool Apple goodness, but when it comes to the iApps, all I see is thousands of man-hours of work with little real immediate return on that sizable investment. Apple is, after all, a business, and it must earn a profit. Since Apple is not getting much for its efforts now it must mean that it expects to in the future. It could be that we'll find out that the rumor sites (and some mainstream press) were right all along and Apple will start expecting us to pay for these wonderful iApps.

Is that so bad? If Apple does start charging for updates to the iApps, would you complain? I wouldn't. It takes a lot to make Macs work the way they do, and nothing in this world is completely free, nor should it be. I firmly believe that, in the not too distant future, major upgrades to the iApps, such as the ones we got today, will cost us and, as long as the cost is reasonable, I won't mind a bit. I also believe that, once people start to use the new iApps, they won't mind either, and therein lies the slight of hand of Steve Jobs; by letting you use the apps you'll soon realize how good they are and you won't balk when he attaches a price tag to the upgrade. That's cool. For now the iApps are free or nearly so, and that makes me a very happy camper.

Vern Seward is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

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