Of course, the bore-athon was of little consequence to the worshipful audience of Macheads who gathered in San Francisco this week. They were there to ooh and ahh and issue sneering contempt for the uninitiated baboons inhabiting the wider world of "Win-doze"--and that's what they did. With Jobs whipping the crowd into a revivalist froth, it was all very good fun for one and all.
Just one problem: This turned out to be the most forgettable Apple love-in it's been my agony to endure.
The headliner of the show was a runt version of its popular iPod.
This turned out to the most forgettable Apple love-in it's been my agony to endure.
So it was that Apple marked two decades of the Mac with all the sizzle of cold tea. That and a Castro-like peroration that dragged on forever. Forget Macworld. Think Macsnore.
In the absence of any truly big product announcements or hardware updates, the audience was instead treated to vintage spin. Jobs is so good at this that they should reserve a special spot for him in the Marketing Hall of Fame. Twenty years after the debut of Mac, he remains as skilled at manipulating the emotions of a crowd as anyone in the public's eye. But no amount of fancy spieling can airbrush away the fact that Apple's share of the computer market remains less than 5 percent--and there's nothing in the offing from management that's going to immediately change that.
No G5 PowerBooks. No improvements in processor speeds. No updates to the iBook. Nada. Just an overpriced iPod Mini with 4 gigabytes of storage that compares poorly with the 15GB digital jukebox Dell is offering for $224.
The more interesting announcement actually came out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Apple announced that it would make digital music players for Hewlett-Packard.
Apple once went down a quasi-similar road when it agreed to license the Macintosh's architecture to clone makers.
The more interesting announcement actually came out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Apple announced that it will make digital music players for Hewlett-Packard.
But this is different. Apple will physically make the units for HP--and presumably others--in an original equipment manager arrangement. That also means that Apple can prevent partners from severely undercutting Apple in the market. The disadvantage is that the company will remain vulnerable to price pressure when digital music players go the way of all electronic commodities. That leaves Apple's future still riding on the Mac. If there's going to be a Macworld in 2024 worth attending, Jobs needs to come up with something a lot better.
Charles Cooper is CNET News.com's executive editor of commentary.