Another year, another MWSF, another keynote.

For once, I am happy to have been busy elsewhere. Not that I think that the products that were announced/demoed are lousy. I was just expecting (without holding my breath) something a little bit… radical.

For months now, rumors were flying about the iPod/Mac Tablet/iPhone. I must say I haven’t seen the keynote, and that my opinions are based solely on speculation from the various sources of info, but a few things seem… I don’t know. Odd?

Let’s put aside the fact that the iPhone works only in the US (thanks a lot for us Apple “zealots” around the world). What does Apple have to offer to the phone market? The iPod is a wonderful product. I have three in the room where I write this post. Although Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player, they did take it out of its niche market. My mom didn’t want a MP3 player until she played with my iPod. Today, every digital player feels like an iPod ripoff. It’s not true of course. But in the mind of non-nerds it certainly feels like it. Way to go Apple. You didn’t invent it, but you certainly made it popular, and with good reasons, because it is truly a magnificent product.

The phone business, however, is far from a niche market. Today, everyone I know has a cell phone. True, it’s not as beautiful or packed with features as the one from Apple. I don’t particularly like my phone, but it plays music if I ask nicely, and… well… allows me to call people. And when you get to the bottom of it, the reason why I still have a Newton is not because I can’t find a phone than can keep track of my contacts and calendars, just because I don’t want my phone to handle it.

A phone, however beautiful, has always been treated as a temporary possession. Most people change phone every couple of years. Probably more often. And if you go in phone shops in France, what are the most successful ones? The free ones. Yes. When you get a cell account, they offer you a phone, or make you pay a small fee to get a better one. Who is going to spend 300 or 400 bucks on a phone that might be lost, destroyed, or stolen? OK, my iPod could have the same problem, but I put my phone to my ear very often, as would probably do someone who can shell that kind of money in a cell phone. My iPod in the other hand rarely leaves the bottom of my pocket.

Then again, maybe it’s just me. I’m sure a lot of people complained about the price of the iPod, and it was a huge hit. Maybe the iPhone will generate enough hype to be successful as well. I just don’t see how Apple could build the same kind of hegemony they have with the iPod in a mature, ever changing and with very different buying habits, market. A lot of luck to them, however. I won’t get one, that’s all…

Technically, I just wonder what’s under the hood. If this is some kind of stripped Mac OS X, I wait to see the battery life. My powerbook holds 4h before sleeping, and I heard that macbooks did roughly the same, or less. How does that translate in a very intermittent usage such as seen in a phone? I charge my phone every two days, three or four in quiet days. It would suck to have to charge it daily. If it is a “new” OS built from the ground up for cell phone usage, then it might be interesting to see the new products that could sprout out of this.

The very good news is AppleTV. I have been waiting for this for a long time. Outside of the US, we don’t have TiVos. And there are little or no alternatives. I have TV on my computer, with more channels and movies and everything than on my TV screen. Being able to see my stuff on my sofa, with the home cinema sound is sure going to be a no-brainer for me. I would like it to be a little open in terms of video formats it can handle, and maybe to be bi-directional, but hey, right now that’s all there is out there, and being an Apple product, I’m pretty sure it will work as advertised. Maybe not better, but certainly not worse. And that’s pretty damn good for me.


[UPDATE] Now that I think about it, maybe I would have liked AppleTV to be like Airport Express… Streaming, anyone? I know that the bitrate is a lot higher and everything, but it could have meant wireless screen. Just imagine being able to get rid of that damn VGA/DVI cable when you have to do a presentation… Oh well… Maybe the next release?

[UPDATE] Apparently, streaming will be possible with iTunes 7.1. Yay! Can’t wait for some clever dev (do you hear me, Rogue Amoeba?) to figure out a way to send anything to the damn box!


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