Live blog: Steve Jobs hosts Apple's music event

We bring you live coverage of Steve Jobs' speech at Apple's music-related event, which began Tuesday at 10 a.m. PDT.

The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco, site of today's Apple media event. Tom Krazit/CNET Networks

This is a record of our live coverage of Steve Jobs' speech at Apple's music-related event , which kicked off at 10 a.m. PDT Tuesday at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Performing Arts. Click here for the latest news, analysis, and photos of the event.

9:53 a.m. PDT: We're in place inside the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, awaiting the start of Apple's media event. "Let's rock," indeed, as we're again being treated to a trip down classic rock lane. Trend spotting? Apple has been ditching the usual Coldplay and Green Day opening music of late, opting for the best of the '60s and '70s. The Rolling Stones started the morning off, followed by The Who, Credence Clearwater Revival, and back to Mick, Keith, and the boys.

My colleague Greg Sandoval just checked in with one of his music industry sources, wondering if perhaps the four lads from Liverpool would be joining the mix, but it sounds like the Beatles/iTunes deal will have to wait for another day.

10:00 a.m. PDT: The Doors are rounding out the preview music, as the 10 a.m. hour approaches. About 500 people are here, and we're just about to begin as the lights dim, and "Touch Me" comes to a close. Not like that's a hint. Steve enters, standard outfit.

10:01 a.m. PDT: "Before we do, I just wanted to mention this." He puts a line up on the presentation screen: "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

Jobs at computer
Jobs showing of features in the new iTunes 8. James Martin/CNET Networks

10:02 a.m. PDT: Steve starts out with iTunes. More than 8.5 million songs are available on iTunes at present, 125,000 podcasts, 30,000 TV shows, 2,600 movies, and 3,000 applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. "We're very pleased to announce that we have 65 million user accounts on iTunes," Steve says.

10:03 a.m. PDT: Steve reviews the rankings of music distributors. Apple passed Wal-Mart earlier this year to become the world's largest music distributor. iTunes is getting some new content, he says. The first thing is HD TV shows. HD shows will be $2.99, and they can be watched on a computer or Apple TV.

10:04 a.m. PDT: "The second thing is that NBC is coming back to iTunes." All NBC shows will be there, Steve says, and they will also be available in HD. Apparently Jeff Zucker (president and CEO of NBC Universal) somehow found a way to make up with Steve.

10:05 a.m. PDT: iTunes 8 is the big news, Steve says. The new release improves accessibility, a big request from customers, he says. There are some new browsing options and something called Genius, he says. That is all in line with reports from Kevin Rose a week ago.

10:07 a.m. PDT: With iTunes 8, you can look at your music by their album covers in tile form, sorting by artist or genre. That also applies to TV shows and podcasts. Genius is as reported, a feature that lets you put songs together in your library that somehow "go great together." Steve moves into a demo of Genius; when you hit the Genius button on a certain song, iTunes assembles a playlist for you. Steve uses Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" as an example, and it pulls several like-minded artists in there as well, such as Paul Simon and Joan Baez.

10:09 a.m. PDT: This works by having iTunes 8 send music information to a central server--anonymously, Steve promises--and combining that with all kinds of data from other users to apparently track patterns. The results update once a week.

Genius
Genius, a new feature in iTunes 8. James Martin/CNET Networks

10:12 a.m. PDT: Steve starts a more in-depth demo of iTunes 8. He sorts his library by artists, selecting Aretha Franklin as an example. The tile format lets you see all the album covers in a single screen, complete with art. Next, he demos an HD TV show, picking an episode of The Office. He then picks John Mayer as an example for some inexplicable reason, making us listen to "Gravity." He then selects songs that go with that song. This Genius thing isn't that smart though, since it said that Bob Dylan goes with John Mayer.

10:14 a.m. PDT: Elvis Presley is paired with Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, The Doors, and Talking Heads. One smart thing about Genius, at least from Apple's point of view, is that it suggests songs that go with your Elvis tracks that you don't already own, with a helpful link to the iTunes Store on the right-hand side. iTunes 8 is a free download, of course, and it's available today.

10:15 a.m. PDT: Now it's iPod time. Analysts at the NPD Group say that Apple has 73.4 percent market share in the U.S. as of right now; "other" has 15.4; SanDisk has 8.6, and Microsoft has 2.4 percent. Steve mentions the iPod ecosystem, "which sometimes announces products before we want them to, which is funny." Apple has sold 160 million iPods since their introduction, and through June.

10:16 a.m. PDT: The iPod Classic is up first. "The iPod that started it all," Steve says. Apple is getting rid of the thicker model, and will now offer a 120GB model for $249. That's 30,000 songs.

10:17 a.m. PDT: The iPod Nano is next. The first Nano shipped three years ago, with three generations each year. "But we have a new iPod Nano for this holiday season." It's exactly as rumored, bringing the long, sleek design of the older Nanos with the exact same display on the fat Nano unveiled last year. "It's the thinnest Nano we've ever made," Steve says.

colors
The new Nano comes in a rainbow of new colors. James Martin/CNET Networks

10:19 a.m. PDT: Steve holds it up for the cameras. It has the tapered edges that accompanied the iPhone 3G, but seems relatively the same size--lengthwise--as the older-generation Nanos. Apple added curved glass over the screen, a new user interface, and it has the accelerometer in the iPhone and iPod Touch.

new nano thin
The new Nano has curved edges and is about the same length as previous models. James Martin/CNET Networks

10:21 a.m. PDT: The new user interface has the Cover Flow interface from the iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as the track listings used on those devices. You rotate the device on its side to watch video, and the picture moves with it. Genius playlists can be created on the Nano without having to connect to iTunes. Apple added a voice recording function, which gets a pleasant reaction from CNET's music player reviewer Donald Bell, who's sitting next to me.

10:22 a.m. PDT: It's demo time. Steve is creating a Genius playlist on the Nano, picking Beck as an example. He then moves into the Cover Flow mode, putting Bob Dylan on once again. With "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," playing, Steve creates the Genius list, which picks Donovan and Simon and Garfunkel as like-minded selections.

10:23 a.m. PDT: The new iPod has "shake to shuffle," a result of the accelerometer. (Editor's note: SanDisk had a player called the Sansa Shaker that had this as its primary feature.) Steve moves from Simon and Garfunkel to Dean Martin to John Mayer with two shakes of the iPod, a progression that you will never see in the history books.

accelerometer
The new Nano has the accelerometer that's also in the iPod Touch and the iPhone. James Martin/CNET Networks

10:25 a.m. PDT: Battery life is about the same, according to Donald. It has 24 hours for music and 4 hours for video. Steve delivers a nod to the environmentalists, explaining how Apple tried to make the new iPods more eco-friendly . Arsenic, BFR (brominated flame retardants), mercury, and PVC are gone, and Steve says the new models are the cleanest models Apple has ever built.

New earbuds
New earbuds James Martin/CNET Networks

10:28 a.m. PDT: The new Nanos are "nano-chromatic," Steve says. He shows eight colors, all the colors of the rainbow. An 8GB model will sell for $149, a 16GB model will sell for $199. Both are shipping soon: the 8GB should arrive later this week, while the 16GB should show up over the weekend or early next week, Steve says. Apple is introducing new headphones with these iPods, with a pause/play feature, as well as track navigation and volume controls right on the cord. There's also a microphone on the new headphones, which will cost $29 and be available in October.

10:29 a.m. PDT: New in-ear headphones are also out. "We think we finally got these right." They are pretty sophisticated, Steve says, saying they will be out in October for $79. The new iPod ad comes up on-screen, which I'm sure we'll see during every single commercial break during the baseball playoffs and NFL season.

10:31 a.m. PDT: Now it's time for the iPod Touch. A new iPod Touch is coming out for the holidays. It's thinner than the previous model, Steve says. It has the same display, but with integrated volume controls, which was the No. 1 request Apple got for an iPod Touch, Steve says. It has a built-in speaker. "It's for casual listening," he says, and it has the Genius playlist creation and the App Store.

funnest iPod
iPod Touch, the "funnest" iPod yet, Jobs says. James Martin/CNET Networks

10:33 a.m. PDT: Steve mentions that the iPod Touch is better for audiobooks, which might be the first time I've ever heard him play up that feature. It has built-in Nike + iPod , with the receiver built into the unit itself. The Genius playlist is created with a touch icon right in the play/pause controls on the iPod playback feature.

10:34 a.m. PDT: Steve announces that users have downloaded more than 100 million applications from the App Store to date, 60 days since the store opened. About 700 games are available on the App Store. 62 countries have access to the App Store. He's moving into a demo now of the new iPod Touch features.

10:38 a.m. PDT: Most of the features Steve is running through at the moment are the familiar ones, playing back music, watching movies, etc. Phil Schiller (Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing) comes up on stage to demo games that have yet to be released for the iPod Touch, and Steve exits. Phil is demoing Spore Origins on the iPod Touch.

10:40 a.m. PDT: Phil's creating his creature, complete with three eyes, five spikes, and some weird green-orange color scheme. He then shows how the iPod Touch can be used to change colors, or add additional features to your creature. Phil's rolling through the kelp forest, taking a hit from other creatures. He's totally going to die soon if he's not careful, but he decides to end the demo before his creature gets eaten.

Spore creature
Phil Schiller shows off his own Spore creature on the iPod Touch. James Martin/CNET Networks

10:43 a.m. PDT: Now Phil is demoing Real Soccer 2009, a new game shipping today. He sets up a match between the U.S. and Italy, which isn't exactly a fair fight. Gameplay is done with a d-pad controller overlaid on the touch screen, so you can move your player around and shoot. Phil scores a dubious goal as the Italian defense basically stands there.

10:45 a.m. PDT: The next game is called Need for Speed: Undercover, a driving game that requires you to transport a "package," Phil says, on behalf of your employers. Phil's a Porsche man, he says, and starts the driving portion of the game by entering street races. After hitting the "nitro" button, Phil loses control and flips his Porsche, but makes a nice recovery before getting nabbed by the cops. That game will be out this fall, he says, and Steve retakes the stage.

Need for Speed
Need for Speed: Undercover on the iPod Touch James Martin/CNET Networks

10:46 a.m. PDT: Steve reviews what we've seen so far on the iPod Touch, quoting battery life of 36 hours of music and 6 hours of video. CNET reviewer Donald Bell says that's roughly the same as the current model, maybe a little more on the music side. "This is the funnest iPod ever," Steve says.

10:47 a.m. PDT: Three models will be available: 8GB for $229, 16GB for $299, and 32GB for $399. Those prices are cheaper, but not as much as some people might have thought. All the new iPod Touches are available today, and they are getting their own ads, of course.

10:49 a.m. PDT: Steve moves into the software on these devices. OS X 2.1 is being released with the new iPod Touch, he says. iPod Touch owners who paid to update to OS X 2.0 are getting a free update to 2.1, but if you never upgraded to 2.0, you need to pay $9.99. The 2.1 software applies to the iPhone as well. "This is a big update, and it fixes lots of bugs." Fewer call drops, fewer app crashes, better battery life, and backing up to iTunes is dramatically faster. These have been the primary complaints around the iPhone 3G and iPhone 2.0, and it appears Apple has addressed those here. It will be available this Friday.

10:51 a.m. PDT: Steve moves back to the iPod-iTunes combination. "We think we've got the best lineup we've ever had for this holiday season." Steve appears to be getting ready to introduce the musician attached to this event, which is a tradition with the September iPod events. "Today we've got a really special guest, who's agreed to come and perform for us."

Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson performs at Tuesdays event. James Martin/CNET Networks

10:53 a.m. PDT: Jack Johnson is Apple's featured guest today. He's apparently the No. 1 selling male artist of all time on iTunes, which surprised us a little bit.

10:57 a.m. PDT: Johnson is playing "Sleep Through the Static," from the album of the same title released this year.

11:02 a.m. PDT: Johnson thanks Jobs for having him on stage, expressing doubt that he'd be the best-selling male artist on iTunes. "I'm used to sort of 20-something girls right here," he jokes, pointing to the Apple executives gathered in the front row. Johnson says hi to all his friends watching this at home; nobody has the heart to tell him it's not live. He starts playing "Better Together," from In Between Dreams.

11:05 a.m. PDT: Johnson wraps up to a standing ovation from the crowd, and a hug from Steve. Steve thanks everybody for coming, and urges folks to go buy iPods. That's going to be it from Yerba Buena for this morning, but make sure to come back to CNET today for more photos, video of the event, Donald's first take on the new iPods, and further analysis on the day's announcements. Thanks, as always, for spending the morning with us and thanks to all the folks back on 2nd Street who work to bring you these live blogs.

Click here for full coverage of Apple's "Let's Rock" event.

About the author

    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.

     

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