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October 29th, 1998

MACWORLD Expo Wrap-up: Steve Jobs, The Heart And Soul Of Apple
by Gary Randazzo
Macworld Expo has come and gone, and it has been the most positive expo in many years. Apple Computer is at its healthiest in a decade, and its four point product line is finally in place. And it looks like things can only go up from here. The difference from last year's Expo, also held in the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, is so great that no longer is there any doubt that Steve Jobs is the heart and soul of Apple.

At last year's New York Expo, there was cautious optimism (which was a hell of a lot better than the Boston Expo the year before that), but this year, the Expo was a carnival, celebrating a rejuvenated Apple that is now leading the computer industry. Who would have ever guessed that last year?

By far, the highlight of the Expo for me was the keynote speech by Steve Jobs. When the lights went down and Noah Wyle came on-stage as Steve, I knew we had a show ahead of us.

I was not wrong. The iBook was introduced, which despite some being critical of its weight, will be a huge success (more on that later). The grand finale was VP of Marketing Phil Shiller jumping into a giant air bag from high above the stage holding an iBook, which kept its wireless connection throughout the fall. (Steve Jobs poked fun at his own reputation for driving his people by saying, "Nothing is beyond the call of duty at Apple.")

Every keynote that Steve Jobs has given has been bigger than the last. Maybe next time, he will shoot Bill Gates out of a cannon to demonstrate the exponential rate that Apple is gaining market share at the expense of Microsoft.

Why am I so certain that the iBook will be a hot seller, even though the price is seen as too high by many, as well as its weight? Because it has that indefinable charisma that the iMac and the VW Beetle have. It's an issue of design, and when it is done right, people are drawn to a product. Sony understands this, Volkswagen understands this, and it is abundantly clear that Apple understands this. Mark my words, iBook will be very hot.

Other show highlights for me were the behind closed door screening of Halo by Bungie and the demo of Fly! by Gathering of Developers. Even though these incredible games are guaranteed hits, the developers took the time to let The Idiots behind the scenes, and into the development of these awesome games.

Halo is simply the most unbelievable action game I have ever seen, period. It makes a huge step toward what The Idiots call Game Fusion, where different styles of game play are merged into a seamless playing experience. And the graphics; there are simply no words to describe them. We are talking photofreakinrealistic! Thanks, Doug, Joseph, Chuck, and all the other guys that were so accommodating.

Fly!, on the other hand, is the most unbelievable simulator I have ever seen, period. From an extensible architecture that seems certain to spawn a cottage industry of developers, to almost real time weather conditions worldwide, to networking play that promises never before seen realism, this one is on my shopping list. And get this: Fly! 2 will be so realistic that it is expected that you will be able to get ten hours toward your private pilot license and forty hours of flight time after you get your license just by playing! Thanks, Jeff and Binu for letting us practically take over your booth for an hour.

I could go on and on about the wonderful games that are coming to the Mac, but suffice it to say that this could be the most upbeat Expo in the history of Apple Computer. I think it safe to say that we can all thank Steve Jobs for this.

Finally, I would just like to apologize to all of the people that I annoyed by camping in front of Star Wars Racer as long as I did.

For a look at all of our MACWORLD Expo coverage, check out our MACWORLD Expo Special Report.

Gary Randazzo is the co-writer of the column The Name of the Game for The Mac Observer. Gary is also partner in his own software company IWS Interactive, where he creates all kinds of interactive media from web sites to IWS's original adventure game Manhattan Apartment Hunter.

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