There were a few things that were released or updated today, but were omitted from the keynote. There were also some things that didn’t appear, but had been rumoured: some kind of SDK for the AppleTV, as well as the potential announcement of an Apple Television. None of these should come as surprises.
Upgrade for Mac Pro, New AirPort Express
The Mac Pro was given a little bit of quiet attention, with a bump in processor speed and graphics capability. But the rest of the machine remains largely unchanged. The question about the future of the machine remains open. I have one, but only because I needed a machine for some serious computing power, and I could get a Mac Pro faster than I could get anything built custom from parts, or from a vendor like Dell. Let’s face it, how many people really need machines that can hold multiple terabytes of disk, huge amounts of memory and up to 12 cores worth of processor? It isn’t exactly a high-volume machine. Don’t get me wrong, I like mine. The thing is crazy fast. But it isn’t exactly mainstream, and the sweet spot for Apple has been notebook when it comes to PC-type computing.
The upgraded AirPort Express is a welcome improvement. I use one when I travel (as well as having them to provide wireless coverage at home). The smaller form-factor, and the ability to access it through a local ethernet port mean that I can at least deal with configuration issues if the wireless has problems. But why do I travel with one? Simple: it gets me a firewall between the hotel’s network and my devices, it keeps all of my inter-device communications hidden from everyone else, and it means that the hotel only sees a single device (some will charge per device. This gets around that). What I would really like to see is the AirPort Express integrated into an AppleTV, but this new device is still a step in the right direction.
But No AppleTV SDK or New Television?
I’m not surprised that there was no SDK announced for the AppleTV. Right now WWDC has enough to cover without adding another platform into the mix. If there is an SDK coming, I would expect it will be something for iOS, and the AppleTV will be just another device (with special considerations). I would also anticipate any announcement to be coupled with other entertainment/media announcements that are normally handled in early fall when Apple announces things for the iPod Touch and iTunes. Granted, it isn’t presented directly to developers, but it would fit in a little better with the overall product announcement playbook Apple typically follows.
As for an actual TV from Apple? I suspect that one is still being considered, looked at, and messed about with internally. I’m not totally convinced it would be a home run product (I wrote about that back in September). From what is rumoured (integrated apps, more interactive features, a “better” remote control) it seems far too much like a solution looking for a problem in some ways. Sure, remotes are a pain, and good universal remotes aren’t perfect. But I’m just not convinced it is bad enough that people will spend thousands to replace a TV just to get a better remote control, or apps in their TV.
Of course, I could be wrong. But the TV market isn’t like the other markets where Apple has rewritten the rules. The smartphone, MP3 player and tablet markets were very new, brand new or in their infancy. TV’s have been around for over 6 decades now. It could end up like the PC market: yes, Apple is doing well, and setting some interesting directions, but they aren’t anywhere close to dominating the space, not by a long shot. If you think PC’s are a mature, entrenched market, then what is the TV market? The PC market is, at best 2-3 decades old. The TV gained rapid popularity starting in the 1950’s. There are several generations of people who grew up with TV, and the habits it entails. Breaking those is going to be incredibly difficult.
It Was Actually A Busy Day
With all of the features and upgrades announced at the keynote, along with a handful of other changes that weren’t announced, it definitely made for a busy day. And those changes didn’t touch on iPhone, iPad, iMac or AppleTV. In reality, Apple made refreshes to nearly half of their hardware platforms. That’s a lot of change in one go, and all of it good.