Tuesday, January 11, 2005

HOT NEWS!!! Apple introduces iPod Shuffle, Mac Mini and iWork

Threats of law suits are over as Steve Jobs announces the two products everyone was hoping Apple would introduce today. I see this as a major step forward for Apple, OS X and computing as a whole. And there is a really neat software package as well, see below.

The Apple Mac Mini is a neat package that provides a full Mac computer in a small Tupperware sized box. What is missing is a monitor, but any monitor, keyboard and mouse (i.e. from your existing Windoze set up) will connect to bring an affordable switch from the ridiculaous to the sublime! price is $499 or £339 (incl. VAT). For this you get a 40 Gig hard drive, G4 processor and DVD player/CD burner combo. The Mini can be had with more gizmos, including wireless and bluetooth, and a DVD burning superdrive. Watch out HP/Compaq, you have competition! BTW, a top of the line "Mini with Everything" (but no monitor) would be less than £700 in the UK. And that includes Bluetooth, wireless mouse, keyboard and airport, as wel as DVD burning.

The iPod Shuffle is Apple's venture into the flash memory MP3 player market and it looks like they have a winner. Key flaw (if any) is that you have only two options for play selection: songs in the order they were loaded or a random shuffle of all songs loaded. The latter would make little sense for classical music (though Classic FM does mix and match movements all the time) while the former would become predictable, assuming you never plugged into your computer's USB socket and remixed the selection. At $99 or £69 (incl VAT) the price is in line with the predictions for a 512MB model.

Perhaps as exciting is the $79 (£49 incl. VAT) iWork software package that includes a brand new word processor as well as Keynotes. These basically make Microsoft Word and Powerpoint an expensive alternative. Unfortunately for me, most of my professional colleagues and clients expect Word and Powerpoint compatibility, not just import/export capability. However, given the universality of Adobe's PDF format, this may become less important with time. Well done, Apple, for providing what look like viable alternatives in an increasingly monopolistic computing world. If iWork is as stable as I hope it will be, Microsoft Office might just be a whole lot less critical. Excel would remain their only product worth having!

No individual links yet because the site is overloaded now that the word is out. Keep trying Apple's main site, things will cool down eventually!