Friday 18 January 2008

Reflections on the Macworld Keynote

I subscribe to the notion that the Macworld Keynote is one of the most important presentations in the IT industry. This is because Apple have a unique ability to create very smart and easy to use products that appeals to non-technical people, while also creating kit that geeks enjoy using (the number of MacBooks being used at the UK Unix User Group was testament to that).

Last year was the iPhone, which although not being a perfect product (lack of 3G for example) has shaken the mobile market so much that every other mobile company is having to up their game. Apple was also a significant influence in leading the music industry to drop DRM.

The buzz at this year's presentation is surrounding the MacBook Air. But in my mind, the biggest news is the upgraded Apple TV. When this was released last year, the Apple TV was pushed as being an iPod for the living room. This year, Steve Jobs admitted that the product didn't meet expectations, but they were revisiting it. The big news was the introduction of movie rentals.

iTunes Movie Rentals provides a way to download movies from iTunes straight from the TV with no computer being required. These movies can then be saved for 30 days and once started, you can play it for 24 hours. If this works for rentals, then presumably the next step would be purchases over the Internet. This could make the HD-DVD vs BluRay conflict completely irrelevant. The number of Playstation 3s will ensure that BluRay has some future, but perhaps the convenience of online purchase of movies will mean BluRay won't automatically replace DVD as the de facto format.

Regarding the MacBook Air - it really is thin and the multitouch demo was very impressive. It's not something I'd be interested in getting, but I can appreciate there will be a lot of people who will want one.

So although this year there was nothing to top last year's iPhone announcement, the potential for the upgraded Apple TV could be as disruptive to the media world as the iPhone has been to the mobile phone industry. Let's see how everyone else responds...

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