Macworld 2008 impressions

Here’s what I thought of Macworld 2008:

Firstly, I had a great time. Well, I always do because it’s hard not to get excited over what is essentially Christmas for tech and gadget lovers. It’s a big door opening just a little crack to show you the kind, and calibre, of announcements the coming year will bring. Last night’s big thing was the Macbook Air, which wasn’t as big as the iPhone announcement of course, but still one hell of a product. After following the keynote over Ars Technica’s IRC channel and photos from Gizmodo, I found a link to the video stream before it hit the front page, and watched the whole damned thing for another few hours, thankfully before everyone else overloaded it this morning.
How much of it mattered, really?
The part that came after the initial euphoria was a realization that most of last night meant nothing to most of us. For all the time Apple engineers spent on innovations like movie rentals, spreading rentals across devices, the new AppleTV software, and the iPod touch’s PAID UPGRADE, their international impact hardly corresponds. In the end it was just “Do you want the world’s thinnest notebook?” Yeah, I’d love one for working out at Starbucks, but that’s about it. I’m actually very intrigued by the Asus EEE PC right now and might pick up one of those in a few weeks for writing on the go.
Now and then I hear people asking if the iTunes store is ever coming here. I’m going to go out on a limb and say No. I don’t think we’re getting one because the market here is small and unproven. How will that work out if the iPhone comes and users will need accounts to get new apps installed? I don’t know. It’s hard to imagine Apple letting the iPhone ecosystem be crippled in that way, akin to having it launch here without the Visual Voicemail support, and yet it may just happen because rollout across Asia’s many countries is going to be a lot more chaotic than it was in Europe. Maybe the plan was never to bring it past China, Japan and Australia at all. And we all know plans for China aren’t looking so good now. What chance does Singapore have?
The iPod update as farce
The iPod touch upgrade costing early adopters USD$20 is just Apple screwing its loyalists again. New iPods get it free, iPhones get their features free, and AppleTVs get a whole new level of functionality – free. Existing customers get the shaft, and only those in countries with iTunes stores get to pay for the privilege. That means all the iPod touches sold here since October are probably never going to get the new apps sold yesterday. And when the SDK release in February brings sanctioned 3rd-party apps, it’s most likely that they’ll be sold over iTunes as well.
So last night my hand was forced, and I jailbroke my iPod touch. I’d been willing to hold out. Keep it kosher and trust Apple to do the right thing. I was happy not having add-ons and extra apps until they said it was time. Fuck that now, at anytime I choose, I can have Mail, Notes, Google Maps, Weather/Stocks widgets and any of a hundred other games and apps on my iPod for absolutely nothing. If Apple legally had to charge for new features, as they did with 802.11n wireless before, they could have made it $0.99. Asking twenty dollars is just the stupidest kind of greed.

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