WWDC 2009 Keynote Announcement Comments

The 2009 Apple World Wide Developer Conference Keynote was yesterday and Apple announced quite a few things. Here’s a compilation of my thoughts on the announcements.

Updated Notebooks

The first substantive announcement was updates to the Macbook and Macbook Pro lineups. I don’t have the patience to detail all of the changes, but you can read up on them here. The gist of the updates are: The Unibody 17, 15, and 13 inch models now all fall under the MacBook Pro label. The polycarbonate 15-inch Macbook gains an official place in the lineup. The Macbook Air gets a price drop. Firewire 800 and a Secure Digital card slot are present on all Macbook Pros, regardless of size. And finally, ExpressCard remains only on the 17-inch Macbook Pro. Notably, although not surprisingly, missing from the announcement was the long dreamed for Apple netbook.

To me, there are some interesting implications of yesterday’s notebook announcements. First, Apple has finally seen the problems inherent in maintaining a Macbook vs. Macbook Pro distinction arbitrarily based on screen size and port availability. Now it is clear that Unibody models (excepting the Air) are to be seen as “professional” machines and the polycarbonate model(s) are for consumers. Of course, one has to wonder if the polycarbonate lineup will see additional models. I think that the answer to that question is, “yes.”

Industry pundits have been clamoring for Apple to introduce a “netbook” computer. Apple’s response has consistently been that they do not think that “netbooks” are a market that they want to compete in, but they are watching the space. I too have been watching the netbook space, and I’m seeing two distinct markets being confused as one there. The first market is the segment of consumers who want a reasonably powerful notebook in the smallest form-factor available. Like it or not, Apple has addressed this market in the form of the MacBook Air. Apple has stated on more than one occasion that the Air is the smallest, most compromised notebook that they wish to produce. And, at the new $1499 entry-level price point, not horribly unreasonable.

The second “netbook” market consists of consumers who want a notebook at the cheapest possible price point. With the polycarbonate Macbook starting at $999 I see a potential move on Apple’s part into that market. While I doubt we will ever see anything like the price-points available from Dell, HP, MSI and company; I would not be surprised to see the Macbook lineup dip as low as $799 for a low-end model. The beauty of that strategy is that Apple doesn’t need to expend any R&D resources on the project. They can simply keep dropping the low-end Macbook price point as faster chips make the current offerings obsolete.

My last thought on the notebook announcements has more to do with what was removed than what was gained. Specifically, the removal of ExpressCard from the 15-inch model along with the addition of Firewire 800 to the 13-inch model and a SD slot to the entire range. I was talking to Macworld editor, and fellow Angry Mac Bastard, Peter Cohen abut the notebook changes when it occurred to me that Apple is having something of a problem defining just exactly what defines a “professional” in regards to the Macbook Pro lineup.

Professional” notebook users range from software developers, to musicians, to video engineers; and the usage patterns of each group can vary widely. I fear that, in this incarnation of the Macbook Pro, Apple has catered to the professional photography and video markets, at the expense of others. Ironically, as Peter pointed out to me, ExpressCard actually would allow the flexibility to address most of the professional markets. On the other hand, from what I’ve seen in various fora from the members of those groups, many professional consumers don’t understand that point.

MacOS 10.6 Snow Leopard

As expected, Apple demoed the next version of the desktop operating system, 10.6 Snow Leopard. There were few surprises, which is a good thing. As developer Fraser Speirs wrote on Twitter: “…WWDC with no major surprises is the best WWDC.” Regardless of that the media punditocracy would like. WWDC is about developers, and springing major changes on developers there is a bad thing. Again, I’ll link to a much better review of the announcements. That being said, a few items that Apple highlighted stood out.

First, the enhanced Microsoft Exchange support will undoubtedly be welcomed by systems administrators. I know, in my company, many manager level employees have begun using their personal Macbook (Pro)s in the office. Drones like me, of course, use what we’re given. Better Exchange integration is one less reason to have to boot into Bootcamp or use Parallels/VMware. Personally, as much as it pains me to allow the company additional vectors into my life, the ability to access Exchange natively from my home iMac will actually be useful.

The second part of the Snow Leopard announcement that stuck out was the release date and pricing. Snow Leopard will be available in September with a price of $29 for those updating from Leopard. I take this as a punch in the junck to every moron analyst or pundit who has claimed that Apple is “resting on its laurels” and that Windows 7 will “blow Apple away.” The message to Microsoft is very much, “bring it on mother-fuckers.”

iPhone OS 3.0

Everyone with a functioning brain expected a iPhone OS 3.0 updated, and Apple delivered. As with Snow Leopard, there really wasn’t much announced that wasn’t expected. The big news is that we learned the release date (June 18) and that AT&T kind of sucks.

iPhone 3Gs

Only and idiot would think that Apple wasn’t going to announce new iPhone hardware. (Hi Rob!) You can read the details here, but the bottom line is that the 8 GB iPhone 3G is demoted to the newly created $99 price point and two new models were debuted. The iPhone 3GS at $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB, both in black and white. My first thought about this is: Fuck you to all the idiots who fall for the lies of their Chinese “sources.” No matte finish back and no new bezel. Secondly, these are pretty much what I expected. Major hardware changes are: an unspecified set of changes that render everything “faster” (I presume that this equates to a faster process and more memory), an incremental upgrade to operate at the maximum allowed by the current GSM 3G infrastructure, an upgraded camera and a magnetometer to allow the iPhone to act as a compass. Yay?

The big story to come out of the 3GS announcement is that the above prices are with carrier commitment and subject to carrier upgrade policies. Just like every other fucking phone sold. I have to be honest, I have never heard as much self indulgent whining as I have in the last 24 hours about this “issue.” I don’t even want to write about this any more. I’m ready to just nut-slap the next douche-bag who brings it up.

Ignoring the dipshittery about the pricing, I think that the 3GS is a nice incremental upgrade. Just enough to keep the new purchasers coming, and a very nice upgrade for the iPhone 2G users who are now just coming out of their contracts. Me, I’ll probably wait for the inevitable iPhone 4G coming next June.

That Which Was Not to Be

Of course, the usual hydrocephalic members of the New Media Douchebag punditocracy were convinced that Apple was going to announce some sort of 10-inch netbook/tablet/marital aid. The main driver of this meme, other than Mike Arrington’s fevered masturbation sessions, was the usual anonymous Chinese “sources.” Get a clue fuck-wits. Me Chinese, me play joke, me make up stupid rumor and laugh at gullible round-eye. When Apple chooses to introduce a potentially game-changing new device, I guarantee it won’t be to an audience of developers. I will be at a special media event possibly hosted by a unicorn.

Speaking of mythical presenters. There was a small, but vocal, band of retards who though that His Steveness was going to make a surprise appearance. Sorry dipshits, this is the new Apple. When they say that Steve will return at the end of June, they mean the end of June. Deal with it.

So, there you go. All in all a decent WWDC keynote. And I didn’t once try to throttle the monkeys at Douchegadget though the screen.