Apple Press Events are like quarterly christmases for the legions of devoted fans - I number myself among them - who can't get enough of the Apple Magic. In the weeks leading up to the event, a viscous, foaming buzz erupts among the myriad tech/news and rumor sites around the internet.
As the date of the event draws closer, that viscous buzz slowly starts to boil - we get secret leaked photographs (usually fake), blueprints eagerly snatched from the patent office, teasers from insiders and various rampant speculation. Finally, as the temporal flow gradually coalesces around the date of the event itself, the well-reasoned and reasonably well-informed analyst commentary emerges and by the time Jobs actually gets up on stage the event has been completely ruined by a combination of too much speculative press (which builds enormous expectations) and too much keen insight (which reveals all of the big secrets a week in advance).
It's all great fun. Today's event was no exception. By the time Jobs got up there (no, I wasn't there - I was watching the achingly, tantalizingly just-slower-than-realtime text feed over at Apple Insider) I already knew what was in store for the iPod line, the iPhone and iTunes. I was waiting for something to knock my socks off, and was disappointed when it never came. But that's silly.
Let's take a closer look at just what came out of today's event.
Let's Rock: iTunes 8
The most anticipated announcement today was the rollout of iTunes 8. New features include a grid view for browsing through your albums and videos, a new graphic visualizer and something called Genius - which is basically a tool that'll suggestion music in your library (and, if you enable it, in the iTunes store) that it thinks you will like, based on what you're currently listening to. The more you use Genius, the smarter it gets - and this is definitely a feature that they were promoting a lot today.
Additionally, Apple unveiled the return of NBC TV content to the iTunes store - and this time, it's available in HD. TV Shows will sell for $1.99 in standard def and $2.99 in High Definition.
Let's Rock: New iPods
The iPod Classic: Gone are the 80gb and 160gb models. In an attempt to streamline their product line, Apple has rolled out a single 120gb flagship iPod. It's available in black and white and retails for $249.
The iPod Nano: As many were predicting, last year's short and squat iPod nano was replaced today by a taller, sleeker model. Equipped with a brand new interface, the new nano has an accelerometer which takes a page from the iPhone and the iPod Touch: it can tell if you're holding it vertically or horizontally, and adjust the display to match. Here are some size comparisons with various older generations of the nano.
Coolest new nano feature: if you shake it, it shuffles your songs. Neat. The nano is available in 9 colors and 2 sizes - the 8gb model is $149 and the 16gb is $199.
The iPod Touch: The Touch got some substantial improvements today. Now billed as "the funnest iPod ever", the Touch can access the iTunes App Store directly so you can purchase apps on the go - and they seem to be trying to convince us that it's the best hand-held gaming device, which is a stretch.
Also, they smoothed out the design a little bit and stuck some speakers on it. And, oh yeah - it has Genius built in, so it can dynamically generate Genius-powered playlists from your music library. Also, it has the Nike+ hardware built in so that if you have some of those swank Nike iPod shoes you can now use them with an iPod touch.
The new model of the iPod Touch sells for $229 (8gb), $299 (16gb) and $399 (32gb).
Let's Rock: iPhone Firmware Update
Finally, the last big announcement today was version 2.1 of the iPhone firmware. This is apparently a mostly technical update - bug fixes, an increase in connectivity, a purported solution to the battery life issue, etc.
As some of you know I was really hoping for a tethering data plan, but I guess I'll just have to keep waiting.
The event wrapped up with a performance from Jack Johnson, and that was that.
What'd you think? Was it everything you ever wanted from Apple in a September update?