Apple Announced More Than I Expected

Today’s announcement from Apple contained far more than I had expected. I wasn’t surprised that there was an updated iPod Touch, or that the entire iPod line was revamped. I wasn’t surprised that iTunes got a big-time makeover. The iPhone was the one thing that was expected. It struck me as unusual that the iPhone shared the stage with other prominent announcements. The iPhone usually gets the spotlight more or less to itself.

What it seems is that Apple is changing the nature of their announcements. Steve’s take was about showmanship. It was as much about the delivery of the message as the message itself (which would be new product). What this appears to be is a company trying to find a new song and a new sound in the midst of change. Steve cast a large shadow over Apple. His presence dominated virtually every aspect of the company. Apple’s current leadership team doesn’t have that same presence, and thankfully isn’t trying to replicate it in some way. That, quite frankly, would be a paper thin approximation of what Steve brought to the table (both good and bad). Apple’s current team, lead by Tim Cook, is trying to find their own voice. That is a good thing, but it means change. Some of the “faithful” will no doubt have problems with that change.

But what about the products themselves? Given that Apple’s supply chain has the watertight integrity of a colander, there were absolutely no surprises today. The phone looked pretty much like the images that were leaked weeks before today’s event. Sure, there were details that may not have been correct, but the basic gist of what was announced was pretty much known in advance. Of course, that does steal a bit from “the show”, but it doesn’t lessen the impact (or lack thereof) of today’s products.

Unsurprisingly, the new iPhone and iPod Touch are thinner, faster, more powerful with bigger screens. Some of the wilder predictions (like 2 SIM trays in the iPhone, or GPS for the iPod Touch) never came to pass. But the usual upgrades were present: better cameras, better speakers, better mics, faster bits and pieces. This really isn’t a shock, and given the start of the art for smartphones right now, making huge, bold leaps has become very, very hard. Will Apple sell a ton of these things? No question. Will I be buying some of them? Very, very likely. Yes, the new iPhone is gorgeous. The new screen (being taller) is a bit of pain, from a developer point of view, but certainly isn’t a huge problem. So yes, it is a very, very nice phone. It is very cool.

My only “disappointment” is that these devices are still limited to 32GB of on-board storage. “But, cloud! Streaming!”. Fine. Except that I can’t stream music on huge stretches of some highways I drive on a regular basis. Even if data was available, data over cellular isn’t reliable. Speed varies, considerable. Connections are dropped. On-board storage is always there, always on and always reliable (unless it breaks, and then you have a bigger problem. But the odds of that are orders of magnitude less than the changes of problems with data over cellular radio). I was hoping that the iPod Touch, at least, would come with 64GB of storage, or ideally 128GB. That allows me to carry what amounts to a reasonable-sized portable media player in my pocket. Is it a big deal? No, not really. But it sure would have been nice.

Overall, it was a good announcement. Given the leaks, there weren’t really any surprises. I didn’t see anything that was a “real game-changer”, or that will “change everything”. But the new designs are very good, and overall I like the new products. I fully expect to get some of them for myself.