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Apple's announcements are underwhelming

Just for the faithful
Tue Jun 09 2009, 11:38

NOT EVEN Apple messiah Steve Jobs could be bothered to get out of bed for the fruit-themed company's announcements at its World Wide Developers Conference yesterday.

Perhaps it was not his hormones playing up but he has developed an allergy to hype and a healthy contempt for the Apple cheerleading press that prints it without question. We can but hope that Steve's brush with death might have led him to see what is really important.

The fact that he did not show up is telling. All he needed to do was take the stage and sit there. It would have made Apple's fanbois and shareholders happy. One would think that if there were anything really new, or even something of substance, something Jobs wanted to personally unveil to the Apple faithful and be associated with, then he would have been there.

Nothing in the stories that have been printed so far reveals anything earthshaking. One would think that reporters were covering a Tory party conference, where a leader breaking wind will get a standing ovation.

Going by the list, Apple has cut the prices of its Iphones and Macs, bought in a super-fast version of the Iphone OS and gewgawed it up with shedloads more functions. It claims that its Snow Leopard is better than Windows 7 will ever be and therefore Apple Mac OS X users should go home and prepare for the pastel company's imminent takeover of the entire computer market.

But lets look closer at what has happened. Apple has dropped the price of its Iphone to $99. However the price cut only applies if you are signed up to AT&T's two year contract. This means that if you bought it, say only six months ago, then you will be royally annoyed.

Besides, we reckon that few punters will want the $99 phone. Most of them will pay for the new Iphone 3GS model which has double the storage space and better battery life. It will be sold for the same price as the old Iphone.

What you are seeing here is not a price cut, but an outfit releasing a new phone whilst still attempting to flog off its inventory of obsolescent models. The dark satanic rumour mill says that Apple will not actually pay much for price reductions on the old Iphones but instead will saddle its US telco partner AT&T with the bill.

And what of this new Iphone 3GS? Apple says that the S stands for "speed" yet everyone knows that speed on a phone has more often to do with the network connection. The only way Apple is actually going to get any real speed increase is if it dumps AT&T, which is something it cannot easily and will not want to do.

And what of the new features on the Iphone 3GS? Well, there is a slight problem with most of these - they will not work on AT&T's network.

Technology like tethering is not on AT&T's agenda, MMS which has been around for donkey's years might be around later this summer. If you queue for your new 3GS you will not be able to send videos using the new 3GS technology.

Not Apple's fault? Yes it is. It locks in its users to oppressive contracts with suppliers who can't really support it. Apple's insistance that it must control every aspect of supply is entirely Apple's fault.

Now to these price cuts. It generally looks as if they will be about $300 off a 15-inch Macbook and $100 off a lower price 13-inch unibody model. The Macbook Air dropped to $1,500. Trivial price cuts like these in the middle of a recession are not really going to do anyone any good.

Anyone who can afford $1,700 for a top of the range Macbook is still going to be a high-end market buyer and while the Air looks jolly nice it is still too expensive for what you get. Most people are going to be buying at the lower end of the market and they will probably walk away from just $100 worth of savings. That is nothing in today's market and hardly qualify as the "drastic cuts" reported by Fox News.

Of course Apple and its tame press called this aggressive pricing. Most people would call it a token cut in the face of an overwhelmingly bad economic outlook.

Likewise the claim that Apple was showing "no mercy" with its low price tag for Snow Leopard. Leopard users will only have to pay $30 for the upgrade.

This is good news given the price tag that Vista users will have to pay for their upgrade to Windows 7. But Snow Leopard offers few new features for most Apple users. The new version is being released mostly to cover up for the spotty performance Leopard brought on for its users - much like Windows 7 is to Vista. Most of the 'improvements' Snow Leopard is offering would be done for free by a Windows service pack.

Apple chunked out its usual snide comment about Windows 7. It said that Windows 7 was just another version of Vista. One of the things about insulting people is you often reveal your own weaknesses, it's called projection. Most people also recognize that Snow Leopard is just another version of Leopard, too.

So why didn't Jobs show up? He is supposed to be going back to work in about a week so he should have been there. Perhaps there was nothing going to be announced that he was proud of. µ


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