Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Take-Aways From the Apple Keynote

I just finished watching the one and half hour keynote that was put on by Apple today. A couple of things struck me, as this is really the first keynote that I've watched in the Tim Cooke era. 
  1. Tim Cooke is not the presenter that Steve Jobs was. But I don't think that he needs to be. He, along with Craig Federighi, Eddy Cue and Phil Shiler did an awesome job of working through this daunting task
  2. I have a lot of work to do on my presentation skills.

But nobody really cares about my presentation skills; so what did I see? 

They started out with some statistics in typical Apple form. 
  • During the latest iPhone launch there were over 9 million iPhones sold, which is there biggest launch weekend ever. 
  • The latest version of iPhone (and iPad) software is installed on over 200 million devices just 5 days after launch; that is nearly 1/3 of all iOS devices
  • iTunes Radio has more than 20 million users, which is a little surprising to me with the prevelance of other services like Pandora, Rdio and Spotify.
  • The App Store has more than 1 million apps in it, and has had over 60 billion downloads.
  • Apple has paid out over $13 billion to developers, making it (they claim) to be the most profitable place for app development.
Next up was the start of what everyone is really wanting to hear about: new products. They started out with OSX Mavericks, which is the operating system for their Mac lineup. For that they brought our Craig Federighi, VP of Software Engineering. I will say that I am excited to give this one a test drive, some of the improvements sound pretty amazing.
  • Improved battery life by up to one hour with just a software upgrade.
  • New technology that allows them to compress 6GB of memory onto 4GB of RAM.
  • Respond within notifications. So if you receive a Tweet from someone you can respond within the notification instead of being redirected to the website.
  • You can now tag files so that you can search by the tag and not just file or folder name.
  • For those of you who are power users there is increased support of dual monitors. Now you can use multiple monitors in full screen.
  • New apps including: Maps and iBook. Both of these of course respond to multi-touch gestures. You would, of course, expect this in iBooks to turn a page, but in Maps you will be able to zoom, rotate, tilt and drag maps by touch. Maps will also be able to be sent to your iPhone (look up direction on the computer and send them to your iPhone).
  • This one went by pretty quick, and they didn't spend too much time on it, but keychain will now store your log in information and credit card information for you. It's understandable why they only touched on this with some of the security concerns.
  • The biggest part of the announcement was probably that OSX Mavericks will be free and available today. AND that you will be single-step upgradable to Mavericks no matter what version of OSX you are running all the way back to Snow Leopard, for free.
Next up was Phil Shiller, VP of World Wide Marketing to introduce the new MacBook Pros. This was your typical hardware announcement. It was mostly packed with numbers that really don't mean much to most of the public, because nobody really understands most of it. I will boil most of it down for you in that both the 13" and 15" models are thinner, more powerful, faster and have better battery life. These will start shipping immediately, as in today. What was really surprising, and "Apple-like" about this portion of the announcement is that they are dropping the price of the MacBooks by $200. This means that the 13" model will start at $1299 and the 15" model will start at $1999. The price tag is still a little hefty, but certainly much closer to a comparably priced PC, and you won't have to replace it every couple of years.

Phil stayed on stage for the announcement of the new Mac Pro. This is a product that tech professionals have been praying for. This is the point where I kind of zoned out, mostly because I don't think that I will ever have a need for a computer with that much horsepower or the $2999 that it will take to purchase the base unit (that doesn't include input or output devices). But there is a community that is super excited about them, and justifiably so. One thing that did catch my eye about this product is that it will be assembled in the United States. It is nice to see that manufacturing is not a lost skill in the good old US of A.

Eddy Cue, Senior VP of Internet Software and Services took the stage next to go over improvements to iLife and iWork. Now this probably won't interest most people until you get to the end, so you have to keep reading (or just skip the the end of the section and then come back to read the rest of the paragraph.) All six of these products (iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers and Keynote) have an updated user interface (UI). They are now more intuitive (which I for one am excited about) and user friendly. Where it gets exciting is that there is now going to be real-time collaboration available in the iWork apps through iWork for iCloud Beta. So now you will be able to send someone a link of a Pages document, they can open it in iWork for iCloud Beta (no they don't need to be a Mac user) and you can both make changes to a document in real time. Can you say more functional Google Docs competitor. But even that isn't quite as exciting as the price. Yup, you guessed it, they are all free (with the purchase of a OSX or iOS device).

The last catch kind of throws a monkey wrench in it for me, since I have already paid for most of these apps on both platforms, but where this has far reaching ramifications is in enterprise. When most big businesses buy a PC they also have to purchase a license for Microsoft Office, which adds about $250 to the cost of device. Once you throw in anti-virus license the total cost goes from $600 to around $1000. For $200 more you can get a Mac that will have all of the software included, and work seamlessly with company iPhones and iPads with almost no extra work. Suddenly Macs may be a little more attractive in the enterprise.

Speaking of iPads, Tim Cooke took the stage to talk briefly about iPad and it's iterations going through some of the numbers and showing a video. He then brought Phil Shiller back on stage for what everyone was really waiting for and Phil didn't disappoint. First he rolled out the all "new" iPad Air. Which is essentially the 4th Generation iPad that is thinner, lighter and more powerful. Here are some of the key take aways that I got:

  • It will have the same 9.7" retina display.
  • It is 43% slimmer, taking it down to an amazing 7.5mm thin. Amazingly that is thinner than a #2 pencil.
  • Thinner bezel (that's the area around the screen).
  • All of the size reductions reduce the weight from 1.4 pounds down to 1.0 pounds, which is a little crazy.
  • It will have the new A7, 64 Bit processor in it that comes in the current iPhone 5s. This means desktop-like power in a tablet.
  • New cameras, because apparently people still like to take pictures and video with the iPad and don't realize how ridiculous they look. The rear facing camera will have the capability to shoot video in 1080p.
  • The Air will have more LTE bands so that it can be used wirelessly in more places around the world. And it will have a new wifi technology built in called MIMO (multiple in multiple out), which should improve wifi performance (thank God).
  • It will come in two colors White/Silver and Space Gray/Black.
  • Pricing is going to start at $499 for wifi only and $629 for LTE equipped.
  • iPad 2 will still be available for the "price conscious".
  • iPad Air will be available on November 1st.
Phil then addressed the iPad Mini, which didn't really offer up any surprises:
  • It will come with a new retina display. The resolution is 2048x1536 on a 7.9" display. That is the same resolution as the current iPad models.
  • The Mini will have the same A7 chip in it that the iPhone and iPad Air have in them.
  • The same MIMO wifi antenea that is in the Air will be in the Mini.
  • The original iPad Mini will still be available and the price will drop to $299, which is very nice!
  • The price of the new iPad Mini will start at $399 for wifi only and $529 for LTE equipped.
  • I don't think I caught an exact release date for the new Mini, other than "later in November."
All-in-all I don't think that there were a whole lot of surprises here other than the price drop on the MacBook Pros. Most of this has been speculated on for a month now, and quite frankly sticks to what Apple does with these types of announcements. The thing that really makes me excited is the fact that there is now a clear path into the enterprise for Apple. The hard part about it is trying to get everyone to migrate to iLife and iWork because they are pretty radically different from the Office Suite.

What do you think? Anything surprising or interesting here? Is this the announcement that 5 years from now we will be able to say "That was the tipping point for Apple?"

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