Forget Macworld. Think Macsnore.

CNET News.com's Charles Cooper says the 20th anniversary of the Mac wasn't enough to rescue Macworld from becoming a bore-athon.

Charles Cooper
Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
3 min read
What can you say after Steve Jobs rings in the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh with a soporific stem-winder that lasts the better part of two hours? How about, "Get me rewrite!"

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.
Apple says it has sold some 2 million devices and makes for a nice one-two punch with the slickly packaged iTunes music download site. But that was the highlight of a meager product rollout, which featured upgrades to Xserve, Microsoft Office for the Mac and Apple's own iLife media creation products.

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.
Unfortunately for Apple, the move came too late to change the constellation of forces in the personal computer world. Former CEO John Sculley, who resisted taking such a step, has since mentioned this as one of his biggest regrets. After Jobs returned to the company, he canceled the deals, and the clone makers faded away.

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.