|Despite our predictions (and fervent hopes), the keynote speech at MacWorld Tokyo last night (8:00 PM CST on Wednesday) did not include an introduction of Apple's upcoming P1 product. Nor did it include an introduction of QuickTime 4.0. In fact, according to reports from Observers in Japan as well as the excellent report by Jason O'Grady for MacWeek, no new products were introduced at all.
Much to everyone's dismay however, there were several problems that plagued the event and eventually caused Steve Jobs to walk off the stage.
One of these problems involved the introduction of the Japanese version of Internet Explorer 4.5 by Ben Waldman, the head of Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit. During the presentation IE crashed. Shortly after Mr. Waldman blamed the Mac hardware for the problem he pointed out what he thought was the nicest feature of the new Blue and White G3s, the reset button.
The event also included some difficulty with OS X Server and a bank of 50 iMacs. According to MacWeek:
"Jobs had his own problem with onstage hardware, however, when a wall of 50 iMacs initially failed to stream video from an OS X Server. 'What is going on, I have no idea,' a visibly angry Jobs said. 'It didn't work as I planned.' The stalled demo, which worked flawlessly at the San Francisco Expo, righted itself after a few moments, but by then Jobs walked off the stage after thanking the crowd."
On the positive side, the Japan Apple Store was introduced for Japanese consumers and businesses wishing to purchase Apple products on the Internet. Mr. Jobs also said that some 46% of iMac purchasers in Japan were new computer owners.
The Mac Observer will continue our coverage of the keynote speech and MacWorld Tokyo throughout the day.
The Mac Observer Spin: Wow. What a catastrophe. Mr. Jobs is usually very smooth during presentations. Throughout the difficulties, he was described as "visibly angry" and frustrated. To be brought to the point of walking off the stage is somewhat startling and perhaps a bit unprofessional though there may very well have been mitigating circumstances of which we do not know.
The biggest gaff though was certainly not the problems with crashing Macs, it was Mr. Waldman shoving his foot in mouth somewhere past his ankle. His comment about the reset button being the greatest feature of the new G3s would be like Avie Tevanian saying something about Windows 98 not being bad considering it was copied from the Mac while a guest presenter at a Microsoft presentation. It may be true, but it's just not in good taste.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates had much more class when his demonstration of Windows 98 and USB resulted in a Blue Screen of Death crash last year. Mr., Waldman could take a few pointers from his boss.
Whatever the case, there are likely to be some new employment opportunities at both Apple and Microsoft by the end of the week. This presentation was an unmitigated disaster, the first and only one since Mr. Jobs took over the presentation job in 1997.
Despite all this however, Apple will not take as big a hit on the PR front as it may seem. The mainstream news sources will certainly latch onto the story...for a day or two. PC lovers will also gloat saying "See? The Mac sucks after all."...for a couple of weeks (then they will go back to a running scared stance). Consumers won't bat an eye though and the iMac will continue to sell like hotcakes. Mr. Jobs has had a string of fantastic presentations since he arrived and one bad apple, even one rotten apple will not be enough to spoil his glowing reputation.
Just one word of advice to all our Observers out there. Remember how we gloated when Mr. Gates encountered his Blue Screen of Death and don't get defensive when non Mac users ask questions about this event. Just smile and let them know that sometime not everything goes right.
Lastly, what happened to the product announcements? It still seems very strange that Mr. Jobs would travel to Japan to deliver the keynote without introducing at least one new product. We don't mind standing up and admitting we were wrong though. Perhaps the next keynote speech. :-)