It STARTED with a skinnier-than-ever Steve Jobs entering stage right to a chorus of applause, and ended with a corporate-as-ever Jack Johnson playing some of the ditties that made him the best selling male artist in the history of iTunes. It was the Fall 2008 Apple Special Event Keynote Presentation.
Jobs began by making light of the Bloomberg Financial newswire’s accidental publishing of his obituary a couple weeks ago, greeting the crowd while behind him a screen emblazoned with Mark Twain’s famous quote “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” broke the ice.
He wasted no time spilling terabytes of statistics on just how well Apple is doing, taking a McDonald’s “Eleventy Billion Served” approach (apparently every person on earth now owns at least a few iPods, and in some cases people are claiming to have lost count). But any true Apple-achian knows that this is just foreplay. Teasing to get us in the mood for the main course. Which turned out to be a bit of a letdown compared to some recent landmark announcements. Most notably last year’s iPhone keynote, which will without a doubt go down in nerd history as one of the best hours of Quicktime video ever streamed.
This fall two messages rang clear: we are Genius, and thin is in.
The first announcement was the new iTunes 8. A substantial upgrade in visual organization, and playlist randomization. And … that’s sort of it. The new Genius feature will allow iTunes users to make smarter more cohesive playlists, utilizing the improved technology of information gathering and inter-user subconscious recommendation. Basically Timmy in Tulsa beams information up to the “Genius cloud” that says “yo I think Akon goes hella tight with Flo Rida beeyatch” which then gets instantly mixed with other recommendations made by anonymous (stressed quite heavily) Akon fans around the world. It’s a feature that implies “hey douchebag, I know your music tastes better than you.” Oh yeah, they’ll also be offering movies in HD. But come on, this “High Definition” trend is so on the way out. It’s pretty much the new LaserDisc, or G4 Cube. Low Def is totally the new High Def. Check the memo: almost retro is totally the new actually retro.
Then it was on to the iPods. The what you ask? The iPods! Mere months after the purchase of my new slightly-thicker-than-base-model Classic iPod (160 gigs!) a newer, slimmer, better base of Classics were unveiled. Scrapping the 160G version altogether, they’ve made the base model thinner, upped it to 120G, and all for the same price as my now obese 160G model. And so with that I, and millions like me were left in the proverbial techno-dust.
As was my girlfriend and her barely-one-week-old iPod Touch. The new Touches are slimmer, cheaper, include a small built in speaker, and thanks to the wildly successful Apps Store, have more game options. Oh and we can’t forget the new slimmer (shock!) Nanos. Ready to wrap with new landscape viewing capability, a “shake to shuffle” feature that you have to see to believe, curved glass, a new 16G model, and nine colors to choose from. But that’s something any good guilt-ridden liberal wouldn’t notice anyway.
It’s important to remember that Mac’letes around the world literally get aroused at the thought of these over-dramatic, often one-hour slideshow speeches. They’re like Rolling Stones concerts—sort of pointless, but you still watch all of them. And it’s no wonder why: Steve Jobs, all gaunt and powerful, prophetic and knowledgeable, wearing the only articles of clothing he owns (you know the ones: that sultry turtle neck and pair of belt-less blue jeans), using every ounce of RAM in his body to explain raw rugged technical specs, and hot steamy cross corporate synergy plans. It would get anyone worked up.
So until a few months from now when we gather again to pop some corn, drink some skunky Coronas (it couldn’t have just been me), oogle and google the newest electronic offspring, and whine about how way too fast our gadgets go obsolete, we can rest easy knowing that we have the best way of carrying way more music than we’ll ever need, making lunch plans with people we’ll never like, and impressing strangers at the coffee shop who still can’t wrap their minds around a $6 cup of coffee.
Jordan Kurtz is a Patrol music editor.
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