Jason Snell - Welcome from the second row of the Moscone West keynote. I’m Jason Snell, and I’ll be providing you with “color commentary” and instant analysis during our live coverage. Right now we’re listening to Green Day and waiting for Steve Jobs to come on stage.
9:03 PT: Dan Moren - The crowd continues to filter in while a glowing Apple logo (reminiscent of last year’s “The first 30 years are only the beginning”) hangs over the stage.
9:04 PT: DM - From Green Day to hip-hop. Evidence, if nothing else, of Steve Jobs’s varied musical tastes.
J.S. - Let’s hope this event begins soon so that Dan and I don’t have to start analyzing each song that plays on the PA system. To be fair, I don’t think this is all coming from Steve Jobs’s iPod. Or perhaps Jobs has even broader tastes that we suspected. Bring on the keynote!
9:08 PT: DM - Word is that Steve Jobs is actually DJing behind the scenes. Okay, that’s completely false and unfounded.
9:13 PT: DM - The lights are coming down as Feist’s 1234 comes to a close, so it seems like we’re getting close.
9:13 PT: DM - A Mac and PC ad has come up onscreen with PC wearing a Happy New Year hat. He’s sad about Vista and how big the iPhone was. “2008 is the year of the PC.” Mac: “What have you got planned?” PC: “I’m just going to copy everything you did in 2007.”
9:14 PT: DM - Steve Jobs takes the stage! Woo hoo. “We’ve got some great stuff for you. There’s clearly something in the air today.” But first! A 2007 retrospective. “An extraordinary year for Apple.” New iMac, iPods, iPhone, Leopard, etc. Steve is going on to thank the customers for an extraordinary 2007. “Thank you” on the slide screen.
9:15 PT: DM - Jobs says there are four things to talk about today. The first one: Leopard. Apple delivered more than 5 million copies in the first three months. The most successful release of Mac OS X ever. Almost 20 percent of the installed base is upgraded to Leopard (a nifty wood theme on Keynote pie chart). We get quotes from Walt Mossberg, David Pogue, Ed Baig, (Bet the fourth one is Steven Levy!). Ooh, a surprise: it’s actually Ed Mendelson from PC Magazine (that gets a laugh).
9:17 PT: DM - Leopard’s been well received by developers. Microsoft is now shipping Office 2008. It’s the last big app to go native on Intel. Whoops, first Jobs glitch: he said “Tiger” when he meant “Leopard.”
9:18 PT: DM - Jobs talks about Time Machine: You wish you didn’t need that wire for connecting your Time Machine drive. And today we’ve got one— Time Capsule, a backup appliance. It’s a full AirPort Extreme base station and a hard drive. 802.11n networking and a server grade hard drive. All the ports of an APE. So now you can backup your notebook, or all the Macs in your house, wirelessly to one Time Capsule. “Really wonderful.” It’s going to sell in two versions: 500GB drive (whoops, he said “megabyte”) and one with 1TB. 500GB model goes for $299 and 1TB goes for $499. “Very aggressive prices. We want people backing up their content.” It’s going to ship in February, the “perfect companion product to Time Machine.” And now we’re going to see the Time Machine ad.
J.S. - Interesting. When Apple came out with Time Machine we all figured that it would be a huge opportunity for the makers of hard drives. Turns out Apple wants a piece of the pie, too. Enter Time Capsule, which combines a hard drive with an AirPort Base Station.
9:20 PT: DM - If you haven’t seen the ad, it has many Justin Longs talking about Time Machine. Kind of creepy.
9:20 PT: DM - That’s Time Capsule. That’s the first thing. What is to come? Here we go with number 2.
9:21 PT: DM - Number two is, unsurprisingly about the iPhone. “Got some great news for you.” Exactly the 200th day since the iPhone went on sale. Apple sold 4 million iPhones to date (which undershoots rumored sales of about 5 million). Jobs says thats 20,000 iPhones every day on average. “What does this mean in terms of the overall market?” And here comes a Keynote graph, with data from the third quarter ending in Septemeber 2007. RIM has 39 percent market share; iPhone with 19.5% market share. Third place is Palm with 9.8 percent; Motorola with 7.4 percent; Nokia with 1.3 percent; and other with 21.2 percent. The iPhone has almost 20 percent of the US smartphone market in its first 90 days of shipping. Equal the next three highest ranked in first 90 days of shipping. December quarter numbers should be “even better.”
J.S. - We’ve heard similar numbers to this before, but it shows you that Apple is very confident about how well the iPhone’s doing. When the iPhone was originally released, Apple’s goals for the iPhone were considered pretty ambitious, but it seems like it’s on track to reach those goals. It will be interesting to see how iPhone purchases go over time—was that initial release a big bump, or are iPhone sales accelerating?
9:23 PT: DM - But everybody’s really excited for the Software Development Kit. Still coming in late February. “But we wanted to give everyone something today too.” Great new features: Maps with location (I think someone may have yelled “bingo!”); Webclips; customized home screens; SMS multiple people at once; videos now support chapters, subtitles, languages; music now supports lyrics.
9:24 PT: DM - It’s demo time (like Miller time, but less fun). We’ll take a look at Maps first. Apple has simplified the Maps interface with just Search and Directions buttons at the bottom. The view button the bottom right “peels up” the map and gives you the option with the Map, Satellite, Hybrid, and List views. Pressing the button in the bottom left locates you. Wow, accuracy is surprisingly good. Showing Moscone West. Current Location can be used as the start. Jobs types in “Apple” for the End direction, and the iPhone shows the route back to Apple. A mere 47 miles. Now you can edit the directions too. Jobs shows the directions to the Apple Store. You can also drop a pin anywhere you want and move it around. You can add it to your bookmarks, move the pin, etc. Developed in conjunction with Google. “We love working with those guys.”
J.S. - I defy anyone to tell me that the killer application of the iPhone isn’t Maps. It is consistently the feature that I hear other people raving about, and in demoing it for people I see their eyes light up -- and somewhere, a cash register chings because Apple’s just made another iPhone sale. So upgrading Maps makes a whole lot of sense.
9:27 PT: DM - We’re moving on to a demo of SMSing multiple people. Who does Steve Jobs message? Phil, Scott Forstall, Tim Cook, and Tony Fadell. Just to say “hi.” The SMS client keeps track of the conversations, so you can resend to those people later.
9:28 PT: DM - Webclips. We go into Safari and visit Google to take a look. There’s a “plus” button at the bottom toolbar, you can now “Add to Home Screen” along with an icon, and the icon now appears on the home screen, just like an application. Webclips can even remember where you’ve zoomed and panned too. Steve likes to read the technology section of the front page of the New York Times. He adds that part to the Home Screen and renames it “NYT” and there’s the New York Times.
9:30 PT: DM - Now you can customize home screen and the icons begin to jiggle like they’ve been drinking espressos all morning. You can slide over to one side of the screen and get a new “page.” Push “home” and you’re done. He’s showing off the Bank of America site, which we discussed on iPhone Central just this past week. (Somewhere in the back of the auditorium is a crying baby, but they’re drowned out by thunderous applause.)
9:31 PT: DM - How do we accomplish this? There’s no GPS for maps. They’re working with Google and one called Skyhook Wireless. They’ve driven the US and Canada and mapped Wi-Fi hotspots: 23 million Wi-Fi hot spots in their database. You can pick up the beacons from the hotspots even if you’re not connected. “Isn’t that cool? It’s really cool.” Google is triangulating of the cell network, so they’re using both. “And it works pretty doggone well.”
9:32 PT: DM - We’re recapping the features: home screen reorganization, new buttons for chapter navigation, using multiple language tracks and subtitles (interesting, since as far as I know, the content in the iTunes Store doesn’t support that...yet). All of this is available as a free software update for every iPhone user. “The iPhone is not standing still.”
J.S. - So, people with hacked iPhones... is this enough to make you abandon your hacked version and jump to the official release? This is the substantial iPhone software release we’ve been waiting for.
9:34 PT: DM - What about the iPod touch? They’ve got the same software. They’ve decided to add five apps to the iPod touch. Mail, Maps, Stocks, Notes, and Weather. Congrats, iPod touch users: you now own an iPhone without the cell phone...for reals. Maps has locations, but only using the Wi-Fi locations. Webclips, home screen, all the same stuff we just saw on the iPhone are on the iPod touch. Building in to every iPod touch. $20 upgrade for existing users (there’s no applause for that, kind of a murmur of discontent). Upgradeable through iTunes. That was the second thing to talk about.
J.S. - You know, when the iPod touch came out there was some speculation that the missing features would be available one day as a for-pay add-on. And that’s what we’ve gotten. $20 for Mail, Stocks, Notes, Weather, and Maps. That sounds like a pretty decent deal to me, though if I got my iPod touch in my stocking for Christmas I’d be a little bummed out. But still, getting Mail and notes on the iPod touch is a big step forward.
9:35 PT: DM - Number 3. “Number 3’s a good one, too.” Number 3 is about iTunes. Last week, they sold their 4 billionth song. On Christmas Day they set a new record and sold 20 million songs in one day (how much of that was Christmas music, though?). They’ve also sold 125 million TV shows: “way more than everyone else put together.” And 7 million movies: “again, more than everyone else put together. But it did not meet our expectations....We think there’s a better way to deliver movie content from iTunes over the Internet.” And it’s iTunes Movie Rentals for the win.
9:37 PT: DM - Never offered rentals for music because people want to own their movies. Rentals is “a great way to look at movies.” Here’s a shot of the movie rental sections. Studios participating: Touchstone, Miramax, MGM, New Line, Lions Gate, “and by the way, these six too.” And there’s all the majors: Fox, WB, Disney, Paramount, Universal, and Sony. Snap! That’s quite a coup. All supporting rentals (but are they supporting sales as well?) Showing off the blockbuster films. Ratatouille “that’s a particular favorite of mine.” Great library titles as well. Jobs is highlighting Away from Her as an example of a film that might have been missed.
J.S. - With these iTunes announcements that’s always the biggest issue: which entertainment companies are participating? Apple’s relationships with the movie studios and TV networks have been fraught with difficulty lately, so it’s a pretty huge deal that all the majors are participating in this deal. It will be interesting to compare this system to some of the other set-top box deals out there. Of course, none of them let you move the movie onto your iPod or iPhone.
9:39 PT: DM - What’s the deal? Here’s the deal. Launch with over 1000 films by the end of February. 30 days after DVD release (that, I guarantee, was the barganing chip with the studios). Watch them anywhere: Macs, PCs, iPods and iPhone. You can watch in less than 30 seconds once rented (if you have a modern connection). 30 days to start watching it, and after you start, you have 24 hours to finish watching it. You can actually transfer to another device in the middle of watching, transfer it to your iPod before the flight (that’s going to be pretty killer for users). Renting a library title costs $2.99, new release is $3.99. Pretty reasonable: on par with the kind of stuff you’ll see from traditional rentals.
9:41 PT: DM - Here’s a demo. It keeps track of movies that you’ve rented in a new item in your library, tells you how much time remaining. Stop the movie, go to your iPod and it gives you a list of movies you can move. “It’s that simple.” Rentals launch today; a free software update for iTunes, iPods, and iPhones. In the US starting today, International later this year. “We’re dying to get this International as well.”