Hardware at Apple’s September Event

by Chris Seibold Sep 01, 2010

It's hard to be disappointed with yesterday's media event, but that doesn't mean people won't find a way, it is the nature of these things. People always over hope and then seem disappointed.

If you take a step back from all things Apple for just a moment and try to look at everything objectively yesterday's introductions are impressive. You've got a new iPod shuffle with the return of the buttons. Those of you that have used a shuffle know that, music-wise, it's hard to get better than a shuffle. You'll get two gigabytes of storage, that's enough for around 1,000 songs or roughly 50 hours of never having to hear the same song. Nifty stuff for only fifty bucks, and perfect for working out or mowing the lawn.

Well, the shuffle was the ideal solution for intense activities but maybe the throne has been usurped. The new nano happens to be only slightly larger than the shuffle, but you get a screen to navigate through your playlists and so forth. The screen is necessary because the nano house either an eight or sixteen gigabyte flash drive. Why not take a look at the nano ad?

That's a nice ad but you will be left wondering why the users keep
rotating the screen when they obviously can't see it. Just chalk that up to advertising mojo instead of real world usage and it all makes sense. You give up some features when compared to the old nano. Goodbye camera but for most users the interactive screen will make up for the loss. The price tag is a bit steeper, $149-$179, but you can find a way to justify that purchase, yes? (For those who want the old-style nano, refurbished models are available from the Apple Store for a mere $99.)

You, of course, know that Apple's flagship iPod (the iPod touch) also received a nice upgrade. Retina display, front facing camera, and the ability to use FaceTime. Predictable upgrades but welcome enhancements for many users.

Which leads us to the one more thing portion of the event. The newly redesigned Apple TV will likely be the most controversial introduction of the iPod spectacular. For reasons that still aren't entirely clear, a great number of users desired an iOS powered Apple TV. Others argued that iOS on an Apple TV was crazy talk, the Apple TV is not, after all, a touch-based device.

What people wanted probably isn't what they got, but what they got is probably better. The Apple TV jettisons the hard drive and has become a device that only streams rentals from the iTunes store and a variety of media from other sources (including your computer). This will no doubt raise the hackles of some users, what if they want to watch The Princess Bride 100 times? Apple is smart here, it turns out that adults generally only watch a movie a few times (at most). It isn't the cost, it is the time commitment. Kids, on the other hand, will willingly watch The Spongebob Squarepants movie a thousand times. But three-year-olds don't usually have the scratch to purchase an Apple TV.

The Apple TV won't revolutionize the TV watching world; Apple was only able to secure shows from two sources (ABC and Fox) but if you have NetFlix the Apple TV will be a welcome solution. Especially when you consider that the newly shrunken Apple TV will only set you back $99. Why not get one for every TV?

That just covers the hardware. The real star of the show was iTunes 10. How can you be sure that iTunes was the biggest deal going on? Apple introduced iTunes at the 40 minute mark when the company always introduces the most important stuff. But let's leave the software discussion for another day—the new hardware is exciting enough for one article.





  • The main gap on the AppleTV is purchases. I’d like to see it offer purchases ONLY VIA your iTunes machine. That way you could buy the show and watch it streamed from your iTunes, while your iTunes is still downloading it.

    ps. It would appear the AppleTV is using the iOS at it’s base, this is a good thing. And hopefully we’ll see some apps some time (but Apple will want to highly regular that I guess!)

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Sep 02, 2010 Posts: 228
  • I think you can still buy movies on your Mac (or PC) and I suspect that you can stream it while you are downloading it to your Mac if you have enough bandwidth.

    As for the iOS at the base, I doubt it. But the levels are pretty abstract here. iOS is a version of OS X optimized for touch. On the other hand, the Apple TV uses the A4 processor so iOS would be a good starting, just peel back a few layers.

    Either way, until it can run apps that, say, an iPad can run it isn’t really iOS. Steve has left the possibility of third party apps coming to the Apple TV open so that is interesting. Once the market is bigger I’d like to see what developers could do with it.

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Sep 02, 2010 Posts: 354
  • Well you can certainly still buy TV shows, OR rent them, on your Mac. So with only 2 studios allowing rentals (ABC/Fox) if you are a Stargate viewer (etc) you’ll need to buy on your Mac first.

    Can you tell me what you base your suspicion that while downloading a purchase, it’ll also stream it? As I said above, I’d like to see that - but I’ve seen no indication of it.

    On the iOS note - interesting that you define it as iOS only if it runs apps, but it would be absolutely impossible to run iPhone apps without modification. We know that the previous AppleTV was based on OSX10.4.7 - and yet it didn’t run OSX apps. Personally I look at iOS as the slimmed down version of OSX to run on a much smaller footprint, with minimal extras and a focus on responsiveness and playing media, on an ARM chip.

    But if you say “it must run iPhone apps” then sure, it won’t do that.
    (In your definition, must it run iPad apps or iPhone apps, to be iOS?)

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Sep 05, 2010 Posts: 228
  • My suspicion is based on the fact that I just tried it. But after your comment I am rethinking this. Buy the time I started the download and made it to my TV. Plugged in the Apple TV (those things run warm so I leave mine off) and got everything going there is a good chance that it was already downloaded. So, I am not so sure now. Next time I want to see a movie I’ll try it again to know for sure.

    On the iOS thing, well, this is getting pretty esoteric. iOS is a version of OS X designed with touch in mind. But still a subset of OS X. I just don’t see anyway that the Apple TV ever runs iOS. On the other hand, with a broad enough definition you could argue that iOS powers the Apple TV. For me, I’ll stick to the iOS runs a touch based interface for my definition.

    In the end, I suspect iOS is more a marketing convention than any meaningful delineation in the spectrum of OSes that is rapidly becoming Apple produced OSes.

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Sep 05, 2010 Posts: 354
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