Apple's "special" non-event

February 28, 2006

I think most people would agree that nothing too exciting was confirmed/announced today. Rumors about the iPod HiFi have been floating around for a while and it was only a matter of time before the Intel Mac mini came out. Sometimes Apple just needs to release products without all of the hoopla. Granted, most of the hype was from fan/rumor sites, but if Apple hadn't made such a stink about this "special" event and sent out invitations and all of that, I don't think it would have received the attention it did. These products should have been announced on the web.

To be honest, the one thing that surprised me most about today's announcements was the leather iPod case that Apple is now selling. I haven't yet watched the event, but I'm curious to see if Steve kept a straight face when describing this thing. Not only does it hide all of the controls from you, it also covers the screen. Did I mention that it's $100!?! Does it come with four $20 bills inside? Who in their right mind is going to pay $100 for what amounts to nothing more than a wallet that converts your iPod into an iPod shuffle without the controls?

I understand that Apple wants a piece of the insane third-party accessory space that has blown up around the iPod, but you're telling me that this is the best APPLE can do? How about making the iPod practical to begin with and able to withstand someone breathing on it without fear of scratching it? Much more on this in a later post (I've been sitting on it for way too long). It's just embarrassing.

iPod HiFi

Yawn. I don't think I quite get it. "HiFi?" Not even close. I'm sure they will sell a lot of them, even at $349, but to say that it will replace your stereo is jumping the gun a bit if you ask me. The frequency response is certainly nothing to write home about and I don't think anyone believes Steve when he says, "I'm an audiophile, and I'm getting rid of my stereo..." It's more likely that Steve has super high-end speakers and equipment whose cables can't be had for less than $349 (though probably not from McIntosh, with whom they've had trademark trouble in the past).

It makes more sense to me to spend the money on a device that can stream music from your computer to your existing stereo system.

At first I thought that this would be a great thing for dorm rooms and college apartments, but the fact is, most college students already use external speakers to listen to the music that's on their computers, which, presumably, is the same music that's on their iPods, and so I'm not sure why they would want to spend this amount of money on another set of speakers.

I'll bet that this will sell mostly to people who want music in their bedrooms. Bose certainly found a niche there with their overpriced Wave systems. If Apple drops the price by $50, puts a screen on the front of it, and adds WiFi to the mix, I might consider putting one in my bedroom.

Am I the only Apple fan who is just a little concerned that they now sell speakers? I realize that Apple is slowing moving toward a more Sony-like product line, but for whatever reason I'm a bit put off by the whole thing. While I certainly don't mind them branching out as it obviously pushes the rest of the industry to be more innovative, I don't want that to take away from the research and development of their OS and computers, and I feel like that's ultimately where all of this is headed.

Intel Mac mini

Perhaps the only surprise here is that the machine now includes an "integrated Intel graphics" chip. Of course, all of us computer nerds immediately gasp and wonder what Apple was thinking by lumping the video card in with the motherboard and asking both to share the already strained system memory. On its face, and even according to Apple just a year ago, it would seem that this would result in weakened graphics capabilities, but, if you look at the overview of the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950, you'll see that this chipset is perfect for what the mini was designed for, namely, home media (not games).

That said, I do feel that this is somewhat of a stopgap for this line -- Apple has to realize that without PVR functionality they can't win the race for the living room.

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