Macworld 2008: Live from the Steve Jobs Keynote

air frontair frontEarlier today, I live blogged from Steve Job’s keynote address. Here’s all the action as it happened:

The big show is about to begin and all the rumors are about to be put to rest. Announcing Office for Mac but the first big news is Time Capsule, a companion product to Time Machine. Available in 500GB ($299) and 1TB ($499). Will have Wi-Fi built in. So it’s like a network storage device and router in one.

Next big announcement is about the iPhone. The device has been shipping for only 200 days and company has sold over 4 million of them. That’s 20,000 iPhones every day. In terms of U.S. SmartPhone Marketshare, RIM had 39 percent, and next was the iPhone and 19.5 percent, followed by Palm, Motorola, and Nokia.

Today Apple is announcing new iPhone features. The first is Maps with location capability. Can also now make Webclips and put them on the home screen. Can customize the home screen and have multiple versions. Can SMS multiple people at once. And lyrics support for iPod feature.

Maps has new user interface and looks pretty slick. New button will locate you on the map, we’re assuming using triangulation (Actually working with Skyhook Wireless and Google). You can use your current location as a start and get turn-by-turn directions to your destination. Demo looks pretty cool.

Jobs is now demonstrating sending SMS to multiple contacts. Nice feature but nothing groundbreaking.

Web Clips is cooler. Now have Plus button at the bottom of Safari page and shows you an icon. Now that icon is added to your home screen. Love this feature. First showed Google and now showing New York Times. Web Clips can even remember where you zoomed and panned to. Very strange but neat: you can re-arrange icons on the main screen and move them to other pages. Can create up to 9 screens. All the icons wobble in this mode. Nice.

All of these features are available today for the iPhone as free software update. Also adding five aps to iPod touch. Mail, Stocks, Notes and Weather. You get Maps with Wi-Fi location. Webclips. Customizing home screen all on iPod touch. Will be built into every device that leaves the factory. A $20 upgrade for existing owners. Some serious groaning in the crowd. Doesn’t seem like a popular move.

On to iTunes. Have sold 125 million TV shows. And 7 million movies. Both numbers are higher than everyone else but haven’t met Jobs expectations. Introducing iTunes Movie Rentals (no surprise here). Explaining why movies make more sense for rentals. Tend to watch once, etc. Studios included Touchstone, MGM, 20th Century Fox, WB, Disney, Universal, Paramount, and Sony Pictures. That’s every major studio. Not bad.

Selection includes new releases but also oldies-but-goodies in the library. Launching with 1000 films by end of February. Will have movies 30 days after DVD release. Bummer. But you can watch them anywhere–PCs, iPod, iPhone, Macs. You have 30 days to start watching the film and 24 hours to finish it. And you can watch within 30 seconds. Can watch first half on PC and them watch rest on iPod. There are some trade-offs here.

Pricing is $2.99 for library titles and $3.99 for new titles. Applause. Not sure why. Click Rent Movie adds it to your library. iTunes tells you how much time you have left. Demoing the move feature from Mac to iPod. Seems pretty simple. Service is launching today via free software update.

Apple TVNow turning attention to Apple TV. Take 2 with the device. No computer is required. Can rent HD movies! Roaring applause with Dolby 5.1 surround sound. Can also enjoy audio and video podcasts. Can get over 50 million videos and buy TV shows and music directly. So what about pricing for HD? Just a buck more at $4.99 for new releases. 100 titles today and building fast. New UI. Demo time. Interface is pretty slick. Can get previews for free. Blades of Glory playing on huge screen and still looks good. Rental starts pretty much instantly. Vudu box has some serious competition. Live search seems to work well.

You can also stream podcasts and order music. Can go to your .Mac account and stream photos live. Instant slideshows complete with transitions and background music. Basically what was once a hobby machine for Apple seems like a serious set-top box. Now a revolution. Going to Flickr now live. Can access your friends’ photos right from the Apple TV. Uh oh. Music is playing but not photos. Must be Flickr’s fault!

Best part. It’s a free software upgrade, including the rental software and new UI. The price is now $229, down from $299. Pretty good compared to the competition. Shipping in 2 weeks.

Introducing chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox. Do we really care about what he has to say? Talking about convenience, control, and portability. All no-brainers. Yada. Yada. What do you know. A Simpsons Movie plug. Although the graphic looks kinda cool with Homer donning white earbuds. Blu-ray discs will come with rental copy.

But here’s the big news. MacBook Air is here. It’s the world’s thinnest notebook. Showing Sony TZ series. Ultraportables tend to be 3 pounds and have small screens and don’t run fast, according to Steve, and have mini keyboards. He thinks there is too much compromising on thickness and display. And performance.

Again referencing Sony product. MacBook Air is only 0.76 inches down to amazing 0.16 inches. Thickest part is still thinner than the Sony. Takes it out of an envelope…full size keyboard and full size display. Has full size 13.3-inch display that’s LED backlit. Saves power and extra bright. Instant on capability. Has iSight camera. Keyboard does look full size and it’s even backlit. Cool part is that there’s multi-touch gestures. Can move windows around. When in large photo you can pan around with two fingers. Can rotate photos. Nice. Can pinch in and out for zooming.

AirYou get 80GB or 64GB SSD. 1.6-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo process standard. Package is much smaller. Introducing Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel. Very quick thank you. Other features include MagSafe connector. Flip-down door that exposes USB 2.0 port, headphone jack, mini DVI. You get 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1.

Steve is no explaining away lack of optical drive. You don’t need one with iTunes rentals, right?! New feature called Remote Disc that shows other Macs or PCs in your vicinity. You can pick one of those machines and ask to borrow that optical drive. Innovative but seems like feature most people won’t use. Don’t get the applause here.

Apple is claiming 5 hours of battery life. That’s pretty good given the thinness of the machine. Summarizing features again. 2GB of memory standard. 80GB hard drive standard with optional 64GB SSD. What would you expect to pay? Price is reasonable $1,799. That’s in the same ballpark of other ultraportables. Starts shipping in two weeks and Apple is taking pre-orders. Going to show us the ad.

Now talking about MacBook air’s greeness. Full aluminum case. Mercury-free display and Apple circuit boards are PCB-free. Even packaging is 56 percent smaller than MacBook. I think Steve is getting ready for one more thing. But first here’s Randy Newman to perform. Odd but okay. Reminding the audience that Europeans don’t like us. Pretty funny song though in defense of our country. “We don’t want their love. And respect at this point is pretty much out of the question.” “The empire is ending.” Okay, stop talking, Randy, I’m running out of battery life.

Actually, that’s it. Stay tuned for hands-on impressions of all the new gear, especially the new Macbook air.

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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