My Macworld keynote initial impressions

Wow…where to start?

I gave myself time to think about Steve Jobs’ Macworld keynote on my way back from Moscone West to the hotel, and let what I just saw sink in a little. Let me take the major announcements and items one-by-one and give you my first thoughts. Bear with me…I’m still trying to get my head around some of this stuff.

1) Time Capsule / Time Machine update. Of all the releases today, this was a good one to start with, because it’s the most ho-hum, but impressive nonetheless. It’s a significant update to the Airport Extreme. Finally you can backup wirelessly using Time Machine. Does this mean there might be an update for folks with existing Airport Extreme routers to do Time Machine backups with external drives attached to the on-board USB? That was the first thing that came to mind for me. The second was, “great…now I need to figure out how to backup my Time Capsule backup remotely.” Still, a Airport Extreme / NAS is a nice appliance and a great idea.

2) iPhone sales. 4 million already? That’s incredible. Steve did the math for us: 200 days of sales, that’s 20,000 units sold a day, which chalks of to 19.5% share of sales in Q3 ’07. He predicts an even better Q4.

3) Updated iPhone and iPod Touch applications. For me, as a pretty enthusiastic iPhone devotee, these announcements brought a huge smile to my face. Several apps got a facelift.

Google Maps has been updated to provide location support (via triangulation with cell towers and WiFi hotspots), and has extended on-the-fly location bookmarking capabilities, something I thought was very lacking in the initial release.

SMS has been updated to allow for multiple message recipients (though, still no multimedia messages…grrr). I’m curious to see how iPhone SMS will handle individual replies to a message sent to multiple folks. I suspect it will break them into separate conversations as replies come in.

Clipping web sites and customizing the front page were surprises. I love the interface to change the front page and I can’t wait to try it out. And I love the idea of zooming in on web content and adding it as a quick bookmark to the front page. Now folks can see why the extra real estate on the iPhone main screen existed–to allow for user self-customization. :) The wiggling icons kind of give me the willies…but maybe I’ll get used to it.

Extra applications are available for the iPod Touch as well, including: Mail, Maps, Stocks, Weather, and Notes. However, Touch users have to pay a $20 upgrade, while iPhone users get extra functionality for a free upgrade. That strikes me as a little crappy, since the new functionality will ship on new iPod Touch units. Presumably, Apple isn’t raising the price. I wonder if there’s some kind of SEC-governed accounting practice that has to be satisfied here with the upgrade cost (similar to the small 802.11n upgrade fee from several months ago on MacBooks and MacBook Pros).

4) iTunes movie rentals and the Apple TV upgrade. Well, all the rumors (well, not even rumors, really) were true. But I wasn’t expecting support for movie rentals from ALL the major Hollywood studios. The pricing seems right to me ($2.99 for library titles, $3.99 for new releases, plus $1.00 extra for HD movie content–yay!), and would compel me to rent more often than I do for the on-demand convenience. I just bought an Apple TV on a lark on Christmas Eve, and with the free upgrade, now I’m glad I did.

5) MacBook Air. Wow. I guess I’m soon to be $1,799 poorer. This thing is light, thin, powerful (for its class), and simply gorgeous. Well done, Ive and company. They really have squeezed much more Mac into a small space than I thought possible. I’m going to write more about this later this afternoon after I get a chance to head over to the Apple booth and handle one personally. Stay tuned.

Whew! That’s it for now. I’ll post more shortly after my head stops spinning and I take something to get the reality distortion field off of me.