Apple doesn't need me to defend them, and this post isn't going to be a typical Apple fanboy defense. Some of my
fellow bloggers (namely Jan, Damien, and C.K.) were
unimpressed by the mini-Stevenote yesterday, and I was right there with them. Now, after taking some time to digest
just what was introduced I am far from disappointed (though I won't be getting a $99 iPod case).
If you take at face value the products announced yesterday no doubt you would be bummed that there wasn't more 'stuff,' even though Apple never claimed that this was going to be a boffo announcement. However, if you look at the story that the products tell, then things begin to make a little more sense.
As I see it Apple was telling two stories yesterday: Intel and iPod accessories. Let's looks at each of them in turn.
The Switch to Intel
As of yesterday, as Steve pointed out, 50% of Apple's computer product line has made the transition to Intel, and in less than 60 days. This is amazing, and I am quite puzzled by people who say, 'Well the new Mac mini isn't that much different.' It has an Intel chip in it, for goodness sake.
Part of the blame for this attitude towards the switch can be attributed to Apple's great handling of it. They have made a conscious decision not to introduce new styles of Macs to mark the Intel transition. What does this mean? If you put an Intel Mac mini next to a Power PC Mac mini most people won't be able to tell the difference (though the IR port is a dead give away). Why do this? Because the manufacturer of the chip shouldn't matter to the everyday user. A Mac is a Mac whether it is running on a G5, a Core Duo, or a Dorito. However, by making this transition look so easy (when in fact it isn't from an engineering point of view) Apple is encouraging people to say, 'WHAT?! Nothing is new with the Mac mini... well other than Front Row and a complete change in system architecture.. but other than that nothing!'
The big yawn that the Intel Mac mini produced (unjustly I think) just proves that Apple is managing the Intel transition much better than anyone thought possible.
Apple's entry into the iPod economy
The iPod Hi-Fi is less of a product and more a signal to the Belkins and the Griffin Technologies of the world. Apple is saying, "There is a billion dollar iPod economy out there that we created and we want a piece of the action.' If I were in charge of iPod products for any third party company I would be very nervous about this.
This serious interest in iPod accessories was, of course, first seen at Macworld were Apple announced their new remote control/radio receiver for the iPod. That product, and the Hi-Fi, take advantage of Apple's control over the iPod to make interaction between the iPod and the accessory exceedingly smooth. With a software update Apple added a special menu item for the Hi-Fi on every iPod that is compatible with the product (and that has a screen). No other vendor can assure that their products will work as well with the iPod, and I am sure they aren't happy about it.
I expect to see more iPod accessories from Apple in the coming months, and I expect that they will sell well (based on the fact that Apple is making them and not some company the average Joe may not have heard of) and they will make Apple a tidy sum of money.
So, as you can see, even though there wasn't an iPod video with touch screen controls, or feature length films in iTunes, this announcement certainly was interesting.