MWNY 01: Why Did I Wake Up For This Keynote?

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Date: Friday, July 20th, 2001, 13:37
Category: Archive

Unlike many other Mac fans, I did not have a work schedule that allowed me time to go to New York for MacWorld 2001. Now that the keynote is over, I am almost glad that that was the case. I think there is a very real possibility that I would literally have started snoring had I been there. A neat, semi-new Power Mac enclosure aside, this was a real slow show, showcasing things we had already seen or which had already been announced long ago.


Unlike many other Mac fans, I did not have a work schedule that allowed me time to go to New York for MacWorld 2001. Now that the keynote is over, I am almost glad that that was the case. I think there is a very real possibility that I would literally have started snoring had I been there. A neat, semi-new Power Mac enclosure aside, this was a real slow show, showcasing things we had already seen or which had already been announced long ago.

Despite the rumors circulating of exciting new products, we were treated only to minor hardware updates, primarily in the form of faster processors, on Apple?s aging desktop line. Missing in the speed bumps were double data rate RAM, Apple choosing to stick with PC133 SDRAM. Also, the G4 Desktop sticks with a 133 mhz main system bus and the iMac a 100 mhz main system bus. Steve Jobs can run as many Photoshop bakeoffs as he likes, but improvements to these other systems would go along way towards easing the megahertz gap in day to day operations. Sorry, but for those of us not running Media Cleaner and Photoshop on a daily basis there is a noticeable megahertz gap.

I would talk about the other hardware announcements but there simply weren?t any. None. Also, none of the new software announced by Apple is available yet either. While I know one cannot dictate the pace of innovation simply to fit convenience, now would have been a great time for Apple to release a slew of innovative products. Other computer makers are faltering and Apple needs to pick up market share wherever it can. Instead of ?wow,? Apple has produced ?decent.? And ?decent? isn?t going to pick up the slack in a slowing economy. Of the hardware and software introduced, the only improvement available today is the 867 mhz Power Mac G4. Everything else that has been upgraded comes in September. No wonder Apple is offering $100 off a number of choice peripherals if one buys a new Mac.

Certainly the improved speed of OS X in the 10.1 version is a ?wow,? as is the support for cameras, DVD and the new iDVD 2.0 software. But none of that is available today. Neither were most of the interesting OS X applications that were demonstrated by third party developers. Also absent was the rumored Mac OS 9.2 upgrade, which will probably wait till the release of OS X 10.1 in September.

Furthermore, iBook sales have been eating into PowerBook G4 400 mhz sales, which, given the iBooks much lower price, means a smaller profit margin for Apple. But there was no update to the PowerBook anywhere in site at the keynote. The same goes for any significant change to the faltering iMac. While I will buy a new iMac for the office in the next few weeks, it will probably be an older one, as they are available for less money and have most of the features of the iMacs that are available now. Even with a 700 mhz G3, the iMac just is not worth $1500 any longer. The screen is small, the graphics power too limited and the 733 mhz G4 desktop is only $200 more. For those of us with a few monitors sitting around, that is a really attractive alternative.

While I think it was very generous of Steve Jobs to acknowledge the hard work of the Apple tram over the last seven months, our sympathy for their efforts is not going to yield sales. Nine out of ten things presented at this keynote were leftovers from speeches made in January and February. Six months is a long time to wait for the same old dog and pony show. Trick new future software aside, MacWorld NY 2001 was a real let down. While I hope September offers more product announcements and a OS X that is even further improved over what was demonstrated, I think some of the opportunity has already been missed.

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