MacWorld 2007: iPhone, Apple TV & Airport Extreme

Not like you need to read yet another article on these huge announcements from Apple today.

It seems like every media outlet is just bursting with articles, analysis, pictures, and hype about Apple these days. In fact, I’ve even noticed that the old media stand-by from 1997, “The beleagured company…” has been replaced with “The legendary company…” in the most recent New York Times.

What a difference 10 years can make.

Well, if you’ve already read 100 articles on these products, I’m not sure you need to click many of these links. But, if you are a normal human being, and you’ve somewhat tuned out all of the recent press and hype, here are a few good links if you are curious.

The best web pages about the products are actually at Apple. So start there:

If you are interested in a few more links:

Also, it looks like David Pogue, at the New York Times, actually got to sit down with Steve and play with the iPhone today. Read about it on his blog.

Let me just say up front, these products are gorgeous. Who knew that everything I’d want for my birthday would be small & rectangular this year? In all seriousness, Apple has taken design language and brand identity to a new level. It’s across their advertisements, their software, their hardware. It is constantly refreshed and new, and yet it maintains a language and style that consistently tells you it is an Apple product without even seeing the logo. It may look easy when Apple does it, but there is a reason why no one else does. It’s hard, bordering on impossible.

I am actually going to Macworld 2007 tomorrow afternoon, so I will post again with thoughts after I’ve seen the products in person. Let me just highlight here some of my initial thoughts:

  • iPhone. Yeah, this is the reason Apple’s market capitalization went up by $6.1 Billion dollars today. The pictures make it look large, but I’m expecting to be surprised by its dimensions tomorrow. Not available until June, but clearly something that Apple felt they needed to announce now to capture excitement. It’s always risky to give the market a half year to formulate a response to your product, before you even ship.

    I am 90% sure that I will buy one of these to replace my Nokia cell phone and iPod nano. My biggest concern is that while Steve is selling the touch-sensitive screen, I think people may be underestimating the value of three dimensional button feel. If you have a universal remote that is all touch-screen, then you understand the loss of that physical feedback. I can dial my phone today without looking, with one hand. The iPhone seems to be geared towards someone who will look at it and hold it with two hands while they are using it.

    But man, is it gorgeous. Unbelievable. Beyond the physical device, notice the difference that great software makes? Does anyone still think that Windows Mobile/CE is impressive now that they are seeing what Mac OS X lite can look like on a device? Palm OS looks like it was written in the 1970s next to it. The biggest complaint I have heard about the Motorola RAZR family is just how bad the Motorola software is. I expect the software to be a real selling point for the device.

  • Apple TV. Believe it or not, I’m more excited about this device than I was about the iPhone. When I had a Tivo Series 2, I used to love the Home Media Option. Displaying my iPhoto library and playing my iTunes library was great, and the fact that it presented all of my personal data (playlists, albums) was fantastic. Unfortunately, my move to DirecTivo forced me to give it up, in favor of dual tuners. Apple TV looks even better, because it will handle video, even high definition, and it has the only UI that I’ve seen on a set top box that looks as good as Tivo. The price point is excellent at $299. Everyone should have one of these.
  • Airport Extreme (802.11n). You won’t see articles written about this one, but this is the companion piece to making wireless a real potential video distribution solution for the home. Like previous incarnations, I don’t think this will be a product that non-Apple devotees will buy. I guarantee you, there will be cheaper 802.11N basestations on the market within minutes. Still, I’ll buy one, largely because I am one of those Apple devotees, and because I expect it to just work flawlessly with my home network, and with my new Apple TVs.

I’m not sure if it will be feasible with this initial release, but I’m eager to find out whether it will be viable to have multiple Apple TVs in the same house. I’d love to have all of my photos, music & video on my G5 server, and then be able to watch them on any TV in the house.

So, $599 + $299 + $179 = over $1000 of new product that I now must own. Unbelievable.

More to come tomorrow, once I get a chance to see these and other products in person tomorrow.

The Apple Stock Option Backdating Scandal

Yes, I know you are expecting me to post about all of the new Apple products announced today during the Stevenote at Macworld 2007.

I will definitely post on them tonight and tomorrow, as I’m going to Macworld in person to see them tomorrow afternoon. It’s my annual birthday treat.

Still, despite all of the excitement, I thought I’d post a few worthwhile articles on the ongoing developments in the Apple options backdating scandal. I find the scandal particularly interesting because:

  1. I know some of the people now mentioned in the investigation
  2. I worked at Apple in the time period where the alleged abuses occurred
  3. I am a lifelong fan of the company and its products

I do not own any shares in Apple Computer (sorry, now it’s “Apple, Inc”). But I think people who do need to follow this ongoing development with their eyes wide open.

I find the last article troubling in particular, because I knew Wendy Howell when I was at Apple. I didn’t know her well, but I knew her, and it’s shocking to see someone’s name in the press like this.

I haven’t fully digested my thoughts on the scandal, or formed a final opinion about what should happen. But this much seems clear – every announcement and release seems to reveal more and more “issues” and more direct involvement by executives, including Steve.

At the same time, it’s hard to argue that Steve & team have not created far more value for the company in the past 10 years than these transgressions may have caused. Steve has increased the market value of Apple by literally $50 Billion+, and compared to other executives in similar positions, seems to have actually taken a surprising low % of those gains for himself. In fact, you could argue he has literally charted a new course for the entire consumer electronics industry at this point in regards to digital media.

There is also no doubt that going forward, Steve is absolutely the value maximizing person to run this company for the next 10 years. No question.

That leaves Apple shareholders with an interesting question: do they impeach their leader on this arguably minor infraction? Or, will they issue a full pardon? (I apologize for the political mixed metaphor)

I think Apple is making this situation worse by not effectively admitting the mistake, and apologizing for it completely. They are turning this into the type of theoretical ethical issue that is just too juicy for the media to give up on. I think the complete absolution of Jobs by Al Gore & Jerome York may have actually stirred things up more, given the revelation of email from Jobs on setting the timing of the option grants. The inclusion of Pixar in the investigation is also troubling.

Make no mistake – this drama will peak in 2007.

Now, about that iPhone, Apple TV, and Airport Extreme basestation that I want for my birthday…

Video: Download the Season Premiere of 24 before January 24th? (Promotional DVD Leak) is getting better and better at not only being a great blogging client, but also as a blog reader. I found this tasty tidbit today on Clint’s Blog:

Fox is releasing the first four episodes of the 2007 season of 24 on DVD. Read about it HERE. Of course, the dvd has already been leaked to p2p networks. Anyone with any bittorrent savvy can watch the first episode of 24 right now. It wont actually air until January 24th.

I don’t think Hollywood hasn’t adapted to the reality that DVDs are now easily ripped and distributed. The sooner they embrace that reality, the better it will be for their ability to develop business models around what customers are doing.