Jobs Unveils The Latest In Apple Wares
Posted on 21 Jul 1999
by Dave McLean (damclean)
Rated 3.89 (Ratings: 0)
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As the lights went down and the screen lit up, I was in sheer anticipation of what was to pass in front of me. I?m a rookie; I?ll have to admit. I?ve never signed up over the web, nor have I ever been convinced to rise earlier for such a biased occasion. In fact, I?ve never seen him speak live before. But I?ll have to admit, when he stepped out on stage I was startled to note that Steve Jobs looked much younger via satellite. Of course, as I focused my tired eyes to the center of the screen, I quickly realized that it was in fact not Steve Jobs at all. No, standing in for him was a rather impressive impersonator in Noah Wyle of the television series ER. Incidentally, Wyle played Jobs in the recent Turner feature Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Once the hoopla of Jobs? bold move to have an actor appear as him (even though he was reportedly upset by Pirates) subsided, the show was underway. In order to put this article into a greater context I have to point out that I was actually sitting in the comfort of a conference center, drinking complementary orange juice, thousands of miles away from the actual stage in New York. And so, some of the effect of the Macworld Expo was probably lost on me, but as an outsider I was still able to appreciate the excitement in Jobs? tone.
In terms of excitement it was all there, business is good, inventory is at impressive low levels, cash reserves are nearly at an all-time high and Apple is making money. How does this affect you the designer? Well, if you use a Mac it should probably make you happy that the company is doing well, and that developers are flocking back to the Mac. If you don?t use a Mac, but have always yearned to do so, then there is no time like the present to make the switch.
From the perspective of the pros, very little was announced for hardware improvements. In fact, the headliner of today?s presentation was the new consumer portable computer, happily dubbed iBook to complement its older brother iMac. The new machine is a far cry from a developers dream, but it might just be something that we will all soon have to aim for when developing. The 12.1" TFT display will only support resolutions up to 800 x 600, but it is a step ahead of the large number of Internet users still framed in 640 x 480 (see 640 x 480 Isn?t dead just yet).
Another addition to Apple?s four main-product arsenal was the introduction of a wireless LAN system called AirPort. Using industry standard (IEE 802.11 DSSS compliant) wireless technology. This UFO shaped device will now invest in the user the power to sit on the toilet while surfing any Web site. And you thought ThirdVoice was going to be problematic. Giving users the power to roam with their candy coated laptops for up to 150 feet allows Apple to have the one-two punch in terms of portability.
If the prefix i in iMac and iBook was supposed to mean Internet then Apple has certainly done their job. Making painless access to the Internet seems to be a recurring goal with Apple and they have taken it one step further with QuickTime 4. Although the product itself is not new, the alliance announced in today?s speech is. QuickTime TV is a network of content providers airing Internet television broadcasts around the globe using streaming media technology delivered by the open-source QuickTime server. The end user is able to view the broadcasts using only the cross-platform application QuickTime 4 Apple?s rationale for making QuickTime server open-source was to alleviate imposing a "tax" on content providers and consequently limiting the number of providers who could afford a server. Since the server software is available for public download it increases Apple?s chances of gaining popularity.
If all the announcements of technology wasn?t enough to make the crowd ooh and ahh, Jobs made sure that he had 100 Apple employees strategically placed throughout the crowd with iBooks ready to test at the conclusion of his speech. Tangerine and Blueberry computers abound, the public was ready for a taste-test. And while these shiny new laptops were passed around an employee was always tethered to the machine as a paperweight. Unfortunately the lights came on in my theatre and there were no iBooks to be found, only door prizes from Apple Canada. Oh well, better luck next time. Maybe next time I?ll be in New York. Until then, yum.