|[5:30 PM] MACWORLD Expo - Steve Jobs Keynote Highlights
by Bryan Chaffin
Steve Jobs' name and Keynote Addresses seems to go together these days, and Jobs gave attendees at this year's MACWORLD Expo another lesson on how he has earned that reputation. The crowd offered warm, and loud, applause. Jobs Spoke for approximately 2 hours, and in fact warned us that this would be a long one. That 2 hours was packed full of the kind of great presentations of new technologies and products that we have come to expect.
Jobs focused on the Christmas quarter (Apple's 1st fiscal quarter) to start the show. 1.35 million Macs were sold in Q1 and this marks a record quarter for the company in terms of units. Jobs did not reveal dollar sales. For those doing the math, Jobs said that was 1 Mac every 6 seconds for the entire quarter. Very cool.
Jobs then went over the entire product line which included some more interesting numbers for the iBooks.
1st time buyers - 11%
Wintel Converts - 17%
Total new Apple customers - 28%
The iMAC DV Special Edition has been the most successful of the new models, besting even the low end iMac at US$995.
iMac numbers at a glance:
1st time buyers - 30%
Wintel converts - 14%
On the Internet - 93%
On the Internet the first day - 62%
did not consider another computer brand or model - 66%
At this point, a group of Mac partisans yelled out in a bass rumble "Steve Rules!" Jobs asked what they said and they repeated their male rumble. The crowd responded by offering Jobs a round of applause.
Jobs then walked us through many new and upcoming products including AppleWorks 6, a very cool 100 GB Portable RAID solution from VST that includes a PowerBook battery recharger (kudos to VST), a cool USB scanner that was very small, and a USB microscope from Scalar.
We next got to take a look at iMovie. Jobs talked about how Digital Video production was a "Killer App" and how Apple was at the forefront of this technology. He showed us a great movie made by the head of the iMovie team that will be used in some Apple commercials for iMovie.
Just as he did at MACWORLD New York this past summer, Jobs showed us three commercials and asked us to pick our favorite. The first was a great demonstration of how easy it is to use iMovie, but the crowd chose one of two sentimental pieces that featured lots of lovable shots of cute kids. I personally think that Apple needs to focus on showing how this new paradigm of digital video editing actually works. All of Apple's iMovie ads so far have not done so and many people simply don't get it.
iTools - Apple's New Internet Strategy
Apple has at long last revealed its Internet strategy. Apple is now getting 1.5 million visits per day and 9 million per week. Rather than building another useless portal, Apple has revamped its current site and will capitalize on its current visitor load.
The main change on the surface is a new toolbar for accessing some new sections. The Apple Store and support are now accessible by this tabbed toolbar that has sub choices in each new section. It is very easy to see and use.
Apple has also added some great new features, called iTools, to their web site. The first we were shown was iReview which is a list of web sites and recommendations. Like Amazon, surfers can add their own reviews. This will be a great service for newness and Internet pros alike. It is easy to use and very handy. The company has 50,000 sites ready to go and is adding more. When you click on a site to visit, Apple is framing the site (or otherwise including it within their own iReview page). This is fine for Apple because they get to keep the viewer on their site. This is not good for the target sites because they are not in control of their own content. Framing other complete sites is a horrible practice and we hope that Apple sees the error in their ways.
Next we saw iCard which is an e-card service that looks really polished. The company has licensed lots of great images and made their service really easy to use. This will probably be another huge hit for the company, especially come Mother's Day.
Apple has launched its own e-mail service branded called "mac.com" (but accessed from their normal, www.apple.com, website). Just like HotMail, Yahoo! mail, and the other web based mails, you can handle all your mail through a great URL like mac.com. The bonus is that you can use private e-mail apps like Outlook Express and Eudora as well. This, too, will be a hit.
The coolest new iTool is iDisk web based storage. The company is offering 20 MBs of web space, but what makes it incredible is that you can mount this space JUST LIKE A HARD DRIVE! This is incredible! The technology uses Mac OS 9 and can only be accessed with Mac OS 9. When you first go to iDisk, it will download a module that makes it all possible. So this means that you can interact with this web based storage as if it was a local drive! Simply incredible. Apple has offered a tremendous service to its customers and completely eliminated any lingering complaints about the lack of a floppy (note, you do have to have access to the Internet to use this).
Apple also has a new service called HomePage that allows users to develop their own web sites. It's easy to use and will prove popular. But, and get this, HomePage will automatically grab pictures and QuickTime movies from your iDisk space! So, upload what you want by dragging a bunch of family pics to your iDisk icon, then go to HomePage, click on Picture Gallery and it will then display everything you have in this space and allow you to edit it! Simply amazing. This is a consumer dream come true. If you have a QuickTime movie, HomePage will stream it for you right out of your iDisk space! Parents and grandparents everywhere rejoice!
Apple is also announcing that Earthlink will continue to be their ISP partner and Apple will be bundling access through Earthlink's default set up. Apple makes a percentage off of each account, so this should prove profitable for the company. Apple will also be making a US$200 million investment in Earthlink.
Speaking of investments, Apple's 12.5 million investment in Akamai is now worth over a billion dollars.
Because of these investments, Apple's other Internet assets and other issues, Mr. Hobs says that Apple should be the most profitable Internet company during the next 20p years.
Apple has officially announced Mac OS X. That's the good news. The bad news is that final release has actually been pushed back a year. The company will release the final beta in the spring of 2000 and will put the product on sale in the summer. It will be January before Apple preloads it on new Macs. Jobs took a great swipe at Microsoft by saying that Apple had a One Operating System strategy unlike some other OS companies. This drew lots of laughter form the crowd.
The new look and feel of Mac OS X was unveiled for the first time today. It included a radical new interface called, "Aqua." Aqua's features are intuitive, elegant, and easy to use. Power Users will still be pleased as well. Apple has managed to address the needs of the Power Users as well as newbies with one interface. Only Apple can do that.
Icons are new and improved in that they are representations of the document. Very cool. Apple has also revamped the Finder. This is good news and bad as the new Finder is very cool, but the traditional desktop metaphor is being replaced by a browser metaphor. There will be short term grumblings, from me for instance, but in the long run this will be widely praised. Apple has taken some things that Microsoft has done, but the company has done it properly.
One thing that Jobs showed us that blew everyone away was The Dock, The Dock contains items you have placed in it. Minimize something and it goes to the Dock. Unlike the Windows Task Bar, The Dock contains a miniature version of the document placed in it. It scales to accommodate new items (up to 128), and has an amazing magnification feature that makes items under your cursor (magnifying glass metaphor) large enough to see while leaving the rest tiny. You can also auto hide The Dock. This is a great new feature.
Apple is also including a new Font Manager within Mac OS X that is very easy to use.
All of this simply floored the crowd. Jobs paraded several execs from major Apple developers who were flabbergasted by the new interface. None had seen it yet, according to Jobs, and all were blown away. This included Bruce Chizen from Adobe, Kevin Browne from Microsoft, Rob Burgess from Macromedia who gave a really warm tribute to Apple, Mac OS X, and Steve Jobs, Richard Tovis of Quark, Carl Yankowski from Palm Computing, and John Carmack from id Software (through a video because he got married today!). All of these developers committed to bringing on their main Mac apps to Mac OS X.
Mr. Jobs closed the keynote by talking about what he called The Big Picture. He talked about Apple, their past, and their future. The best news of all was the announcement that he would no longer be Apple's Interim CEO. He has officially taken the full position of CEO and talked about the fact he has proven to the shareholders of Apple and Pixar that he could manage both roles. The crowd went wild with this news and gave Mr. Jobs a standing ovation. He is keeping the title of iCEO, though the "i" no longer stands for interim, it now stands for "Internet".
It was another great keynote speech to be sure. There were a few glitches, such as the Quake 3 on Mac OS X that locked up, and several login issues with iCard, but the overall impact was remarkably positive and upbeat. There were no new hardware announcements, but the audience seemed to feel the new web site features, and the Mac OS X interface demonstration were plenty to get them going.
Note, I will be grading my own predictions I made before the keynote shortly.
MACWORLD Expo SF Special Report - Live Keynote Coverage Transcript