The Back Page - Bryan's Notes from the "One More Thing..." Media Event

by - October 12th, 2005

As you probably know by now, Apple told incoming journalists that blogging and live updates from the "One more thing..." media event were VERBOTEN! Why in the world Apple would want us not giving people live updates is beyond me (Think Control), but it was moot anyway, as I had zero cell-phone signal inside the theater.

Still, I took notes that I thought many people might enjoy reading. Accordingly, they are presented mostly unedited, but formatted for your enjoyment.

Steve Jobs walked on stage.

"Like every great story, I divided it up into 3 acts."

Act I, iMac

3.5 million iMacs sold so far. An impressive number indeed.

Photo Booth takes pics from iSight, which is built into iMac. Gives a countdown, just like a photo booth, and the screen flashes white in order to provide better light. Comes with several effects like Andy Warhol, Sequoia, Teenage Effects (warping). Jobs mugged it up for the camera, and it was great.

Front Row - An incredible new way to enjoy your music, photos, and video from your sofa. A new remote control is included, looks like an iPod shuffle, sort of. Push the button, and the Mac desktop becomes a simple interface for accessing your media. Play a tune, and the album art is big on your screen. It's very simple to use.

For photos, you can access your iPhoto library and albums. The screen just becomes a giant slideshow.

DVDs - Access whatever DVD is in the drive. Offers easy controls from the same simple Apple remote control device.

Video - You can watch any video created in iMovie, again through the remote. Will also play videos loaded onto your computers. You can also download all the trailers at Apple's trailer site. That's absurdly cool.

It grabs higher res movie posters as your browser interface. Just cycle through the posters, choose one, and watch it. The demonstration we got included a phat connection to the Internet, so it appeared as if they were instantaneous, but of course normal bandwidth restrictions apply for you and me.

Note that Front Row, in a single stroke, makes one's iMac into a set-top box, something many have been clamoring for. Though, with it working only on an iMac G5, this assumes that you will put your iMac where your TV is.

After showing us all this, Steve walked to the center of the screen and asked "Isn't this cool?" The audience of jaded media folks started applauding. Gotta love his showmanship. It's truly amazing.

He showed a slide of Apple's remote next to two competing remotes from Windows Media Center computer. Both of the remotes, I think they're HP devices, are enormously complex -- one had 43 buttons, the other 46. Sandwiched between them was the six-button Apple remote.

Steve: "I don't know if there's ever been a slide that captures Apple as much as this one."

I have to agree. Apple should plaster that image up on billboards, in magazines, and on its Web site. It's a brilliant iconification of Apple's approach to making devices easy to use, and everyone else's good-enough approach.

New iMacs will be priced:

17" - Same price as old one, $1299. The audience applauded again.

20" will sell for $1699.

Shipping today. Hitting stores in the middle of next week. The audience is impressed with this presentation.

Act II

(Notice the continued movie/theater/story theme of the "acts?")

Claims 75% market share of all music players for iPod.

Steve: "The white iPod has been a huge success, and therefore it's time to replace it. And yes, it does video."

That's a reference to the persistent rumors that began appearing in recent weeks, particularly since invites to this event were sent.

iPod video - Very thin. Bigger screen. Higher quality images.

2.5" TFT display. 320 x 240, 260,000 colors. Real-time H.264 decoding at 30fps. MPEG4 at 30fps. TV out.

30 GB and 60GB. 30 GB is 31% thinner than the previous 20GB, and the 60GB is thinner by 14%.

Comes in black. Shipping late next week. Comes with a carrying pouch. That's clearly a response to the complaints about the iPod nano scratching.

New ad: Looks great. Features U2, and plainly conveys the idea that the new iPod plays video without actually ever saying so.

Also a new silhouette ad features Eminem. Fascinating, that. Remember that Mr. Mathers sued Apple over using one of his songs in an early iPod ad without his permission. Looks good.

As with each successive iPod silhouette campaign, there is more detail in the new ads.

Act III - iTunes

200 million copies of iTunes out there. iTunes 6 is out, just five weeks after iTunes 5.

1.) Gifting - Buy buttons become Gift buttons. Sends out a gift certificate electronically where the recipient just clicks a button to get their song.

2.) Customer reviews. Great idea.

3.) Just for you - Recommendations from Apple for you. Think Amazon. It basically uses what you've bought -- or what you tell iTunes you already own -- to make recommendations. This is technically in beta.

4.) Video - Allows you to buy music videos. Note this is why Apple stopped adding videos to the iTMS a few months ago. Videos cost $1.99.

Six of Pixar's shorts will be available for $1.99. They will be 320 x 240. Note that all those Pixar shorts have heretofore been available direct from Pixar's site, for free. [Edit: A quick check on Pixar's site shows them as being available as "Sneak Peeks." There are no links to iTunes at the Pixar site that I can find.]

There are DRM restrictions for videos, not too surprisingly. I do so loathe DRM.

Frankly, 320 x 240 is a crappy resolution for a music video I am paying $2 for. It's great for an iPod, but on a Mac? Completely lame.

Back to a demo of watching videos on an iPod. Interface works easily, of course.

iTunes 6 is available today.

One more thing...

TV shows. Steve is pretending that he had great relations with Disney. Now that's funny, but the point is that Apple will be offering five shows from Disney-owned ABC.

In reality, it's Disney's new CEO, Bob Iger with whom he has a good relationship. Former CEO Eisner and Steve clashed mightily.

Lost, Desperate Housewives, Nightstalker, and two shows from the Disney channel (That's so Raven, and The Suite Life). You can buy current eps the day after they are broadcast.

Why the day after? Because Disney is a stupid Big Media company scared crapless of the Internet. But, the videos will at least be commercial-free. Considering that we are paying, however, that's as it should be.

Cost per episode is only $1.99. That's shockingly low. I think he said resolution is 320 x 240, which again sucks for watching on a computer. Great for iPod, lame for Mac. I would again point to Disney, who is terrified that a reasonable resolution might be traded on the Internet.

With Front Row, TV shows are divided into seasons, which is terrific. Great interface, if you can stand the crappy resolution of the end product.

Bob Iger is here on stage. He quipped that he was here to announce a new relationship with Apple. "Not with Pixar (audience laughed), but with Apple. Maybe we can do that another time."

Now that's funny. Clearly, Mr. Iger and Mr. Jobs have worked things out, and we can expect for Pixar to sign a new agreement that keeps future Pixar films at Disney.

Note, though, that the CEO of a company many times the size of Apple is here on stage at Steve's behest. That's a testament to the growing power of Apple and iTunes.

Iger: "This is a first, giant step, in terms of making this kind of content available."

Jobs: "Sometimes that first step is the hardest one, and we've just made it."

Telling indeed. It would seem that offering these shows is a trial run from a Big Media company dipping its toes in the reality of the Internet. If the water doesn't burn, we'll see lots more, assuredly.

Finale - Recap of the announcements throughout the event.

Encore - Wynton Marsalis is here to play.

Launched into a blazingly fast piece, hitting notes all over the place, including a few I've not heard before. Has a great band with him. I have no idea who these cats are, but they definitely rock.