Macworld 2008 Is Steve Jobs losing his mojo? Almost speechless by the end of his Macworld keynote, the Apple chief executive's "to-do-list" left little by way of the surprises or thrills legions of Jobs-loving fanboys have come to expect.
Especially as the two most eagerly awaited announcements there were pretty much public knowledge before his keynote: the ultra thin MacBook Air and an iTunes video rental service.
If there was a hint of the unexpected, it was the new MacBook won't - as widely predicted - rely on flash storage. Apple is sticking with good, old-fashioned spinning disks.
The latest Apple laptop, "the world's thinnest notebook" according to Jobs, is indeed unbelievably thin at 0.16 inches at its narrowest, while its maximum height reaches 0.76 inches, even thinner than Sony's TZ thinnest point. It's so thin this machine can actually fit in a regular manila envelope!
Apple, though, has made little sacrifice in terms of performance. The MacBook Air is powered by Intel's Core 2 Duo processors running either at 1.6 GHz or 1.8 GHz, includes a 13.3-inch LED-backlit widescreen display, a built-in iSight video camera, 2GB of memory, Intel's integrated graphics and an 80GB 1.8-inch hard drive or an optional 64GB solid-state drive with no moving parts.
Connectivity-wise, the new MacBook lives up to its name by relying on airborne connectivity through wireless and eschewing Ethernet and Firewire ports, as well as an integrated optical drive. There is, though, a micro-DVI port, USB 2.0, headphone jack and Apple's MagSafe power port. The laptop has an estimated five hours of battery life, will ship in about two weeks starting at $1,799, and can be pre-ordered online at Apple's web site.
Over to the iTunes Movie Rentals service. Apple is extending its reach in the entertainment biz, which already spans sales of music and video, with a move into movie rentals that competes with services from Netflix and Amazon.
The Apple service will offer more than 1,000 titles by the end of February, including more than 100 titles in high-definition video with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound from all the major movie studios including 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney and Warner. Users can rent the movies from their Mac or PC, iPhone or directly from their TV using the latest version of the Apple TV. Movies are priced at $2.99 for library titles and $3.99 for new releases. High-definition versions are a dollar more.
Once a movie is rented, it starts downloading from the iTunes Store directly to iTunes or the Apple TV, and users with a fast Internet connection can start viewing the movie. Customers have then up to 30 days to start watching it, and once a movie has been started you have just 24 hours to finish it. One would thought Jobs could have negotiated a friendlier deal.
The other announcements include a software revamp of the Apple TV, iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as the release of a box dubbed the "Time Capsule" that works seamlessly with Apple's backup software, Time Machine. The backup appliance is similar to the Apple TV and includes an 802.11n WiFi connection, three Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit Ethernet WAN port and a USB 2.0 port. Also available in February, the Time Capsule will retail for $499 with a 1TB drive and $299 for 500 GB.
And that was it. The event that - years previously - gave us the iPod and the iPhone while Jobs tossed out those throw-away "one more thing" lines, was gone. There was, it seemed, not one more thing to be had.®
Jean-Baptiste Su is editor in chief of Uberpulse.com , and co-founder and US bureau chief of The French News Agency.