I must admit I wasn’t expecting anything earth-shattering from Steve Jobs yesterday and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed. While unveiling some pretty cool toys, both hardware and software, he failed to deliver anything that on it’s surface will immediately sway a consumer to purchase a Mac over a PC.
I say ‘on it’s surface’ because Garage Band may become another one of those things that people fall in love with. The fact that he added it to the $49 iLife package is amazing. Face it, human beings love to create things and that includes music. Today’s musical offerings are pretty bland so creating your own might be a good alternative. Garage Band now puts professional level music composition in the hands of the average consumer. A demo I saw last night showed a $99 keyboard hooked up to it and it sounded exactly like a grand piano. Not that cheesy midi sound you’d expect. Pretty impressive.
Other announcements included improvements to iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD as well as new iPod Minis. The knock against the new smaller iPods will be that for the capacity they aren’t much cheaper than a slightly larger iPod. Keep in mind you are not paying for capacity, but rather the physical size of the unit. It’s the size of a business card. It’s the same reason Sony is able sell those tiny Vaios. People want smaller rather than bigger. It’s not the $100 iPod everybody was hoping for, but they do come in five fashionable colors. Give him credit, Steve Jobs knows how to sell to your vanity.
The one thing that caught my eye yesterday was not mentioned at MacWorld. iTunes Music Store added lists of Billboards Top 100 songs for every year going back to 1946. While the lists are not complete they are fairly comprehensive. I must admit the fuel behind my Napster addiction a couple of years ago was how easy it was to find music I remembered from high school and college. I was never terribly interested in finding new albums on Napster or Kazaa because the vast majority of new music is rather unappealing. This is the kind of small enhancement that I think will keep Apple and iTMS ahead of Walmart and Napster in the online music biz.
All in all, not a bad day for Apple. Since these announcements focused primarily on software I’d expect some new hardware sometime this summer. Possibly G5 Powerbooks or 3Ghz Power Macs. It’s the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh this year so I have no doubt that Jobs has something good in the pipeline.