Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fun products, Apple style?

There has been a lot of rumours surrounding today's special event. With the rumour mongering cumulating in the saga of the video iPod, which sadly in the end turned out to be a hoax. We were left with, what? The only fact that any of the rumours sites had been able to discern was that you could no longer bulk order the Mac mini. That wasn't really a lot to go on considering the leaks surrounding some previous special events.

CREDIT: Engadget

In the end it looks like AppleInsider had the inside track, although their predictions of a widescreen Intel iBook were well off base, their forecast of an updated Intel Mac mini was spot on and their other prediction, of an "iPod BoomBox" was pretty close. Since nobody else seemed to have the vaguest idea what was coming out, I think you have to hand them the prize for the closest guess.


The new Intel Mac mini, looking a lot like the old Mac mini...

The main star of today's event pretty much has to be the new Intel Mac mini, it's not quite the media centre some were hoping for but the specifications are pretty nice, and it does come as predicted with Front Row and an Apple Remote. Both Core Solo and Core Duo models are available, and the new minis ship with Gigabit Ethernet, four USB ports, and both analogue and SPDIF audio out. Apple are advertising them as between 2.5 and 5.5 times faster than previous models, depending on the processor. However surprising perhaps the prices have gone up, the two models are now priced at $599 and $799 in the US, and £449 and £599 in the UK. On the up side, the new minis are apparently shipping today...

CREDIT: Engadget

Interestingly Front Row comes with a new feature, you can now share your iTunes and iPhoto pictures and videos from any other Mac or Windows computer running iTunes. This squarely positions Apple on the way to a media centre, staking out the ground, even if the mini isn't quite a media centre yet.

Apple also announced an iPod Hi-Fi unit, and some leather cases for your 5G iPod. Which really doesn't rack up when compared to the rumours of a video iPod. When it comes down to it, considering the rumours flying thick and fast before hand, you have to class this as a pretty disappointing event...

Update: I'm still confused about the invite, normally there is some connection between the invite and the final product announcements. If I were seriously into conspiracy theories I might speculate that the iPod leather case, and perhaps the iPod Hi-Fi as well, were last minute stop gap products to fill in for a something a bit more interesting that just wasn't ready yet. After all, neither of them are exactly ground shattering leaps forward are they? I wouldn't call a press conference to announce I was charging $99 for a leather case, even if I was Steve Jobs. So maybe we'll get our video iPod, or even an Apple PDA, after all...

Update: Another interesting question you have to ask is, what does Apple want with a $50 million data centre, if not to sell full length movies via their iTunes store?

Update: If you haven't seen enough already Inside Mac Media have now put a video podcast of the event online...


The Inside Mac video podcast