Grading Apple’s WWDC Announcements

In general, Apple didn’t disappoint yesterday. There were Mac and iPhone announcements, and plenty of talk about Snow Leopard and iPhone OS 3.0. But they didn’t wow us either.
I think the only thing that surprised most people was moving the 13-inch MacBooks over to the MacBook Pro name. This leaves only one “MacBook” left — the little $999 white one. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a plan to make room for more MacBooks. But it will probably mean the end of the plain MacBooks.
Think about it. Is there a “Mac” anymore? No, just the iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro. How about an iPod? No, just the iPod Nano, iPod Suffle, iPod Touch and iPod Classic.
So it makes sense that there may only be a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air in the future. Perhaps the white MacBook will be renamed the MacBook Classic — that’s what happened to the iPod and also the original Mac design, remember that?
But Apple gets a thumbs up for the re-commitment to Firewire. Firewire is now on all Macs, except the port-minimized MacBook Air. All have Firewire 800, except for the white MacBook still with Firewire 400.
Also the addition of SD card slots to the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros is a good step. SD had certainly won the camera format wars, and this pretty much declares it over. It is weird that he 17-inch MacBook Pro doesn’t have a SD card slot, but you can always add one using the ExpressCard slot.
The release date for Snow Leopard wasn’t a surprise to anyone. Some thought earlier, some later. But September makes a lot of sense according to the rumors and bits of information we’ve had about its progress.
The fact that it will be a $29 upgrade to Leopard is a bit of a shocker. So maybe there were two surprises yesterday. What remains to be seen is how Apple prevents the $29 upgrade from working with Macs that are running Tiger. After all, the Snow Leopard DVD should allow a clean install on a Mac, so how can it tell what was there before? Perhaps the restriction will be in license only. I hope so, as any software-based restrictions would be bound to have unforeseen issues.
On the iPhone side, we’ll be getting the new OS and a new model the same week. That’s how it happened this time last year too. There’s not much to talk about concerning to OS — it has all been revealed before.
However, the new iPhone 3GS is something to discuss. There were lots of crazy rumors about this, and most of them were wrong. Only the reasonable ones were right.
The most exciting aspect has to be the camera. With a 3-mega-pixel camera and the video capability, this does start to replace some other devices. That’s a good enough resolution for high quality standard prints. And the video function will replace the small Flip cams for gadget geeks.
And speaking of replacing gadgets, the new turn-by-turn TomTom app and its likely competitors will replace the dedicated GPS devices.
It is strange at this point to start to compare an iPhone to a computer. A computer is so much more powerful and can do a lot that a phone can’t do. But now the iPhone can do a heck of a lot that a computer can’t as well.
Did Steve Jobs and Apple see the end of the PC era and find a way for Apple to jump to the next big thing? Whether they did or not, that’s how it looks now.