Mac Fans Disappointed By The Keynote! Are They Forgetting The Last Twelve Months?

by Chris Seibold Jan 11, 2006

Browsing around the Mac section of the web, you can’t help but notice a certain lack of enthusiasm about the recent MacWorld keynote. The apathy is understandable, as far as miniaturized coolness goes the only thing attendees were treated to was a semi-redundant FM tuner add-on for the iPod. If you’re into the bigger stuff you were likely disappointed as well, the computer related announcements amounted to nothing more than a significant speed bump. So, for those who rate Apple solely on the new hardware that debuts at MacWorld, the depression is justifiable.

Why didn’t MacWorld live up to the hype? For one thing, Apple has set the bar high with the previous Macworlds and, more tellingly, the rumor sites had ratcheted expectations up to stratospheric levels for the most recent keynote. Between rumors as diverse as widescreen iBooks, Apple Plasmas with the Viiv chip, and a Mac mini based PVR sporting an online movie store there was a lot of room to be under whelmed. Sure, pulling off any one of the previously mentioned things seems possible but introducing more than one would be expecting a bit much.

This was the year, after all, when Apple announced the switch to Intel. Being a company with limited resources means that Apple can’t update every single product, roll out a new movie service and come up with a fully computerized Plasma TV all in the span of six months. Heck, Microsoft, with much more manpower, can’t even produce a new OS in 4 years (and counting).

Once the realization is made that Apple can’t possibly update every Mac and roll out fifty new products in a scant 180 days since the announced switch to Intel one begins to see the need for compromises. Or, put in a different fashion, Apple has to ask: what should get Intellized first. You have to think Apple made the right choices this time around. The PowerBook upgrade was a no-brainer, something had to be done about Apple’s aging laptop line. By introducing the Pro(fit) level ‘Books first, Apple ensures that people who simply have to have that Intel goodness are buying the higher margin item while also guaranteeing the iBooks don’t take an embarrassing leap ahead of the pro level stuff in terms of performance.

The iMac introduction is a little more puzzling, at least until you read Chris Howard’s excellent analysis. Mr. Howard opines that Apple will be making a serious push for market share this year. If that is the case, then the iMac introduction makes a good deal of sense. What product other than Apple’s flagship computer would be better served by getting the upgrade?

At this point, it is necessary to add one small caveat about the keynote introductions. While the PowerBook certainly needed a performance boost in the eyes of many the iMac didn’t need a boost processing ability. Recall that the reason for the change of processors was due to performance per watt. Yet there was a decided lack of info on battery life increases in the MacBook or energy savings in the iMac. The iMac, which had ample processing power before the switch, now has “twice” the performance of the previous iMac. Since performance wasn’t an issue, one has to wonder if the real benefit of Intel in the iMac has more to do with helping Apple than helping users.

For everything Apple did right at this keynote, it could’ve have been much more. It could have been the gadget infested, awe evoking event people expected. In short, it could have been simply outstanding. You should be glad it wasn’t.

Apple could have opted to introduce many more products at MacWorld. The Mighty Mouse was introduced in August but they could have kept it in a closet until MacWorld, just to have a trinket for people to run out and buy. The iMac with Front Row was introduced in October. Again, Apple could have chosen to wait and introduce the iMac with a built in iSight until it was powered by the Intel chipset, it would have certainly made the introduction more dramatic. That iPod nano no one can get enough of? They could’ve have waited until January 10. Immediately following the nano Steve could demo the iPod with video capability. The “one more thing” everyone loves? Television shows via iTunes, of course. Where Steve would squeeze the new MacBook Pro into all of that, would be anyone’s guess.

If Apple had picked the “Wow Them At MacWorld” route, the keynote would take longer than the 24 hours of Le Mans. On the other hand, no one would be griping about the lack of newness at MacWorld. Likely, people would be walking around still dumbstruck at the myriad of product releases. The choice probably would have made a great number of people happy, but it wouldn’t have helped Apple’s bottom line as much as the steady flow of new products.

And really, there is your choice. You can let Apple sit on four months of innovations just to leave the MacWorld attendees suffering from Apple new product overload or you can opt for a steady steam of innovation emanating from Cupertino. Those folks with longer memories remember 2005 as being a stellar year for new stuff from Apple, stuff we didn’t have to wait until MacWorld to get.


  • My problem with the keynote address is that it is nothing more than an infomercial for iLife every year.  Steve spends half of the keynote doing a demo on iLife.  And quite honestly, I’ve bought my last copy of it.  Too much integration with .mac for my tastes.  I like choice and Apple seems to be trying to limit my choices here.  A .mac membership should be included in the purchase of iLife.  And from the first review I’ve heard of it, its like the typical Apple software product.  Lots of flash, lots of bugs and slow as molasses.

    jocknerd had this to say on Jan 13, 2006 Posts: 23
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