Live from Apple's 'Let's Rock' event in San Francisco

Updated ·13 min read

We're at Apple's Let's Rock iPod event at the Yerba Buena Center, check after the break for all our updates.

9:08AM PT - We're outside the center, journalists are milling about in preparation for the event! Everyone's roped in, kind of like a small pasture.

9:22AM - Apple Store is down. Shocking!

9:35AM - Hmm, Hurley from YouTube is here, wonder what new Rick Roll-enabling apps they'll be talking about today!

9:44AM - Okay, we're in and in our seats. 'Sunshine of your Love' is pounding out. Rock indeed.

9:51AM - Oooh, 'Gimme Shelter' -- suddenly the whole thing feels like a Scorcese picture.

9:53AM - Announcer: please turn off all cellphones and PDAs. The presentation will begin shortly. Sweet.

9:57AM - Ah nice, The Doors -- 'Touch Me' -- is it some kind of sign? We're not gonna say it's not, okay?

9:59AM - It should be noted that this Doors jam is playing considerably louder than the other tracks we've heard. Nice and subtle.

10:00AM - And the lights are coming down... here we go!

10:00AM - Steve is out!

10:01AM -
Big cheers. "We've got some exciting stuff..." he cracked a joke about the obit. Ha!

10:02AM- "So let's get on with it. The topic this morning is music. Let's start with iTunes. It's the ubiquitous store and music player. It now offers 8.5 million songs. It's amazing. Over 125,000 podcasts, over 30,000 TV shows, 2600 movies... and we now offer over 3,000 apps for iPhone and touch."

10:02AM - "We've got over 65 million customers. It's enabled us to become the #1 music distributor in any format." Big applause for that one.

10:03AM- "So we're adding new content to iTunes. HD TV shows. You can buy them for $1.99 in SD, HD will be $2.99... and you can watch them on your computer."

10:04AM - "We're introducing iTunes 8 today."

10:04AM - "NBC is coming back to iTunes." Big cheers "The Office is coming back, Monk, Battlestar Galactica, 30 Rock... and they're coming back in HD."

About time.

10:05AM - "HD TV shows, accessibility... voice over... new browsing in iTunes, and something called Genius." well what do you know? "Old browsing wasn't efficient, in iTunes 8 you can look by album cover, and this new bar at the top let's you look at anything graphically in little tiles."

10:06AM- "This also scales to movies, TV shows, podcasts, but it will be used most for music."

10:06AM - "We're intro'ing a new featuring called 'Genius' -- it allows you to make playlists from songs in your library that go together. It helps you rediscover music in your library. And it really works well."

10:07AM - "Let's say you're listening to a song, Bob Dylan, and you push the Genius button -- 25, 50, 75 or 100 songs. They're amazingly good. You can bring up the Genius sidebar which makes recommendations from the iTunes store." Ah, making that easier to sell eh?

10:08AM- "You've got your music library, you turn on Genius -- it sends information about your library to iTunes. We can learn about your musical tastes... but completely anonymously... but we're going to combine your info with other users, and as that happens Genius gets smarter and smarter." Tee hee!

10:09AM- "The results are tailored to your tastes and library. Automatically make playlists with just one click." Demo time!

10:10AM - "I've got albums, I can click to artists... let me go to Aretha Franklin... and you know, play songs." Aretha! Nice.

10:11AM- "I can see music by genre." He's scrolling through panels. "I can see by composer. It also works great for movies and TV shows." Ha, 'The Office' -- the phone gag. Priceless stuff.

10:12AM- "You get the idea." "Here we are watching HD on our iMac. Going back to music, I'm going to search for John Mayer..." Oh joy. "All I do is push the Genius button.. and boom, that's it... I can refresh, and here's songs that go with that song."

10:13AM - "Alright I'm going to buy music. Elvis... and uh, I'm gonna buy 'Heartbreak Hotel' now let me make a playlist -- and it's pulled together songs that go with that song." Ah, Buddy Holly... Roy Orbison... yeah, that's a no-brainer though, isn't it Steve?

10:14AM - "Some songs I'm missing, some songs by other artists." Little Richard. "We think you're really going to like the Genius feature." Big cheers!

"That's available today as a free download."

10:15AM - "Now let's talk about the iPod. NPD data shows iPod with 73.4% marketshare. Number 2 is "other", number 3 is SanDisk, and number 4 is Microsoft, 2.6%." "There are over 5,000 accessories, they announce products before they want them to... it's funny." Ha! Big laughs for that one... nano anyone?

10:16AM- "Total sales since we started are over 160 million." "So with that, I'd like to tell you about some new products. Let's start with the classic. We've offered in two models, thin and thick, but we're discontinuing the thick one. We're upgrading to 120GB at $249."

10:17AM - "We went from 1,000 songs to 30,000 in your pocket. The iPod nano. You know we shipped the first nano in 2005, it's only been 3 years." Showing off the older generations now, boasting of the improvements. "But we have a new iPod nano for this holiday season."

10:17AM - It's just like the spy shots!

10:18AM - "Exactly the same display, but it's the thinnest iPod we've ever made. It's an oval shape, and it fits in with the line. The first and second gen, but exactly the same... he's pulling one out."

10:18AM- It's quite small, extremely thin! It almost vanishes when he turns it on its side. "You'll be blown away with how thin it is."

10:19AM - "Features? New curved aluminum design with curved glass -- and enhanced UI with new features. We've taken the accelerometer from the touch and iPhone and it does some great things, and you can use the Genius function on the iPod."

10:20AM - Songs are displayed in a touch / iPhone manner. "Turn it sideways and you're in Cover Flow -- you get full size album art -- again with photos, just turn the nano. Video is fantastic, and another cool thing is you push and hold the center button for a popup menu, you can use the Genius, you can browse."

10:20AM - "Calendar, stopwatch, voice recording when it detects a mic." Demo action... now.

10:21AM - "Let's go into music, artists... we'll pick Beck... 'Guess I'm doing fine' -- I just rotate it sideways and I'm in cover mode." This looks handsome, but not mindblowing.

10:23AM - "New feature... shake to shuffle!" huge cheers, you just shake it to change. Nice, very cute.

- "I wanna show you photos... here's some photos, we can thumb through... tilt it for landscape, look at some photos. It just works really well. That's what I wanted to show you." Nice, a decent upgrade, but a lot we've seen.

10:24AM - 24 hours battery life for music, 4 hours for video.

10:25AM - "We want to be environmentally sensitive. We're constantly worrying about it. But the biggest thing is toxics -- we have an internal checklist, but the new iPods look great from this point of view. They're highly recyclable... we're really trying our best. We think these new nanos are the cleanest we've ever built."

10:26AM- "Now there's one thing I haven't talked about: colors." Wow, a whole rainbow of super bright colors. Bright blue, purple, orange, green, pink. These look pretty slick. "Entry price of $149 for 8GB, $199 for 16GB."

- 8GB in stock in the next few days, the 16GB hopefully this weekend. "We've also got some great accessories... armband, some headphones as well... we have a pair we're introducing... these headphones have a pause / play and volume control, double click goes to next song, triple click goes to previous, right from the cable, and there's a microphone for voice recording."

10:28AM - "We've also got some new in-ear headphones. They ship with 3 earbuds, and they've got 2 drivers each, a woofer and tweeter -- they're going to sell for $79." Ooh, what a bargain... that's knocking the price up a bit.

10:29AM - They've got a new ad... and here we go. Funky music... very funky electroish beats. And flipping, melting / paint dripping nanos. Short, but cute.

- "Let's move on to the iPod touch. We've brought our multitouch interface to the iPod. It's unlike anything in the market... for this holiday season we're making it better. Same display, but even thinner. Contoured stainless steel design... they're just fantastic."

10:31AM - "What's different? We've integrated volume controls into the side. Built-in speaker... which is hard for something this thin... for casual listening... Genius playlist creation... and the App Store built in."

10:32AM - "We've enhanced the UI, better artwork on albums. Of course it's still great to watch video. The UI is even nicer. We've also built in Nike+ to the touch." Wow, now that's kind of handy.

10:33AM - "The receiver is built in, you just need the transmitter for your shoe." Big cheers for that one. Now he's going on about Genius again... okay Steve we get it, we'll never have to think about music ever again. Steve clearly never made a mixtape for a girlfriend.

10:33AM- "And of course... the App Store. I'm pleased to announce that users have downloaded 100 million apps...." Yeah, 99 million were total crap.

10:34AM - "Today is only the 60th day the store has been open. Right on the iPod touch. There are about 700 games on the App Store, some of them are getting pretty fantastic." Ah yes, fantastic Sudoku!

10:36AM - "Let me show you some of this stuff." "I'm going into music, I'm gonna pick Green Day, 'American Idiot' -- tap the Genius button..." This looks real familiar. They are pushing this so hard. Hmm, Hendrix? Not exactly like Green Day, is it? And now U2, okay, that makes a bit of sense. Refresh brings up a whole new list. "It's pretty nice." "I can make playlists on the touch. Let me go to movies, let me remind you how great it is." Oh yeah, we'd forgotten how good that looks. Thanks.

10:37AM - A clip from 'Iron Man' -- "And I can go to the App Store and download games. We've got a treat today." He's inviting Phil Schiller on stage. Phil's going to demo some games it seems.

10:38AM - "This couldn't be more fun, hundreds of games. Here's some you haven't seen before. I'm going to start with a game that just shipped... Spore. The iPod touch version, 'Spore Origins'." Man they love Spore.

10:39AM - Now he's into the Creature Creator, Phil is making a new life form. Ths graphics do look pretty slick, but this isn't exactly new territory. "You can create your character any way you want..." Ah, so that's how it works.

10:41AM - "I'm controlling my character by tilting the iPod touch. Just got bitten there." A little laughter... the crowd seems content to watch Phil game. "It's kind of like life... and the graphics are just incredible. So that's Spore. Okay, on to 'Real Soccer 2009', just shipping today." Mmm, football.

10:42AM- This game looks pretty sharp -- we'd imagine from Fifa fans will go in for this. The graphics are impressive. They've overlaid a transparent D-pad on the screen -- but the game also uses gestures. Phil just scored... huge applause, we've got some sports fans here. Instant replay!

10:44AM - Ah, 'Need for Speed'. Looks like it uses some real car models. This looks fun, but we're still holding out hope for some more hardware... that might be wishful thinking, of course. Again, pretty impressive 3D graphics, it continues to be shocking what the touch / iPhone can do. Phil wiped out... crowd: "oooooooh!" He's on the run from the cops, good stuff. "Don't try this at home."

10:45AM - Okay, Steve is back!

10:45AM- iPod touch: 36 hours of music, 6 hours of video, environmentally sound design.

10:46AM- "This is the funnest iPod ever. We think people will really like. We've got it in 3 models." 8GB, $229, 16GB for $299, and a 32GB for $399. All three are available today. "Now we've got a new ad."

10:47AM - Touch with games played on it, lots of games. Ah we get it... look out Nintendo. That's basically an ad for a gaming device. They're going for the throat here.

10:47AM - "It's the best portable device for playing games..." gauntlet: THROWN.

10:48AM - We've just spied Howard Stringer in the front row... we think. Interesting.

10:48AM -
Uh oh... 2.1 firmware for the iPhone!

10:49AM - "This is a big update, it fixes lots of bugs. Fewer dropped calls, big battery life improvements. No crashes with Apps. Backing up is faster." Nice.

10:49AM - "Some great new performance enhancements... free to all owners, available this Friday."

10:50AM- "Back to iTunes and iPod. We've got the best lineup we've ever had. We've sold over 160 million iPods. We're ready for this coming season. And we really appreciate the chance to share that." Round of applause please...

10:51AM - "We get excited when we can bring products to market that make enjoying music better..." Looks like a musical guest is about to step out. "He's sold over 60 million albums, he's the #1 selling male artist in iTunes history... Jack Johnson."

10:52AM - Hi Jack. Lay it on us. We better be righteously chilled out when this is over or we want our money back.

10:52AM - One thing about Jack Johnson, he doesn't mind being a corporate shill.

10:55AM - Hang back folks. We'll see what happens when Jack finishes.

10:56AM - Jack is truly rocking us to our very cores. Actually, it's ironic that for the 'Let's Rock' event they end with some soft acoustic folk stuff.

11:00AM - Big cheers from the crowd. A few journalists have been moved to tears. We think we spied Dan Lyons in the corner sobbing. Jack is thanking us and being quite modest. "I'm used to 20-something girls right here, I'm doing my best." Guffaw. "Apple has been really supportive... I wanted to say thank you."

11:03AM - "Thanks again." And it looks like we're done! Thanks for joining us!

11:04AM - Steve: "Thank you all for coming!"

Photography by Ryan Block.