Opinion: Genuine Apple fan seeks exciting Apple Keynote

Columns & Opinion, Computers, Macworld 2008

steve_jobs_macworld_2008.jpgI was hoping to write a glowing report of Steve Jobs’ Macworld 2008 keynote presentation yesterday, but (even as an ardent Apple fan) I have found myself disappointed.

Granted, it was always going to be difficult for Apple to eclipse last year’s iPhone announcement, but I felt myself wanting more.

Maybe I’m getting too old, but I find myself desiring function much more than form. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that the product announcement I was most impressed with was the Time Capsule. That’s pretty sad in itself, because it amounts to not much more than an upgraded Airport Extreme with a large hard drive in it, and existing software built in to OS X Leopard.

I’m still struggling to see how Apple TV is going to break into the market. Granted, it’s impressive that they’ve finally convinced a large number of movie studios to put their content onto iTunes, but the new content won’t be arriving in the UK until later in the year. It’s still not compelling enough for me to consider replacing my existing, albeit separate, systems.

As for the MacBook Air? Definitely a major case of form over function.

Don’t get me wrong, it looks fantastic, and I’m sure it’s a great bit of kit — considering its limitations.

Yes, shock, horror — I’m an Apple fan and I’m knocking Apple products (though maybe that’s because I’m a miserable git who should lighten up, eh Sergio?).

I’m worried that Apple has been working very hard on shaving millimetres from various bits of hardware, and making things look snazzy, while sacrificing usable features.

Granted, you probably won’t get a hernia from carting the Air around, but then you won’t get more than five hours battery life — or an optical drive, a removable battery, a replaceable hard drive, an Ethernet port, or more than one USB port…

Of course it will appeal to a number of people: absolute die-hard Apple fans (one of which, apparently, I no longer am), fashion-conscious techies with a lot of money whose technology has to look as good as them (apparently women like it, stereotypically), and those who wish they could carry all their gadgets round in envelopes.

Not me. Even for Apple, it’s bad value for money (I put that in for those who say Apple gear is too expensive, by the way, I generally don’t mind). For only a little more money, I can get a MacBook Pro with a faster processor, more memory, an optical drive, and more connectivity. Yes, it’s bulkier, but I can cope with that. And that’s last season’s kit.

Hardware for power users wasn’t sexy enough to make it into the keynote speech, as the Mac Pro got its eight core update a week earlier.

I’m not really bothered that the iPhone hardware wasn’t upgraded — I didn’t expect it to be. I would like to have seen more existing products get upgrades and/or price cuts. I know they’re not particularly glamorous, but they do keep the Apple faithful happier.

The keynote wasn’t a washout by any means. The hardware is impressive, and it’s obvious that Apple are pushing further into the living room. Yet there was something lacking — and not just “one more thing” either.

I hope Apple springs some hardware surprises during the year.

Andy Merrett
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