Despite garnering the usual hype and rumor flurries that tend to precede Apple product events, today's main announcements didn't have the "wow" factor Mac fans have come to expect. CEO Steve Jobs unveiled Tuesday an Intel-based Mac Mini, the addition of Bonjour to its Front Row software, an iPod "Hi-Fi" speaker system, and a $99 leather iPod case.
While Jobs had promised some "fun" new products, bloggers, many of whom gave up-to-the-minute accounts of his keynote, were largely underwhelmed by what they heard. The inclusion of Bonjour with Front Row met with approval, but isn't exactly spurring a mad rush to local Apple stores. People seem to be viewing the Mac Mini with cautious interest; they're glad to see the specs but most blogs withheld judgment until they could get their hands on the new machines. Many weren't so kind to the iPod Hi-Fi, which has been described as Apple's reinvention of the boomboxes popular in the 1980s. The speaker system is taking hits on its design--a key part of the appeal of many Apple products--as well as its sound quality and over-simplicity, i.e. lack of video and AM/FM tuner. Several bloggers voiced frustration at Apple's $349 solution to a problem they have been able to solve with a $5 cable.
It may not have elicited the glowing reception they were hoping for, but today's announcements did solidify Apple's commitment to becoming a major player in the home entertainment market. Bloggers, however, seemed largely disappointed and were left wishing Jobs had had just "one more thing" tucked away in his pocket. And don't even get them started on the $99 leather iPod case.
Blog community response:
"I'd argue, that today's product announcement marked the most tangible evidence yet of what Apple's digital convergence strategy will be. While any one of Apple's new products might seem to be little more than an incremental improvement over previous offerings, taken as a whole - combined with Job's comments throughout the event - it's clear that Apple is serious about becoming a major force in home entertainment."
"For crying out loud, this makes me wonder why is Apple wasting its resources on frivolous stuff and not focusing instead on more basic but more important issues like - getting enough shipments of their Mac Book Pros in the stores? I fear that Apple is ignoring the pent-up demand for new lighter computers from increasingly mobile workers."
--Om Malik's Blog
On the iPod Hi-Fi:
"Honestly, who would be caught dead with that thing in an office, living room, or kitchen? It's a disgustingly massive, completely spartan, totally non-Apple design they should be ashamed to put in their product lineup."
--Christopher Hall on News.com TalkBack
"why would i buy this over say the Bose Sounddock? what exactly does this product bring to the market that isn't already there?"
--cpfcfa on Think Secret
"Audio quality? We don't ever like to comment on this until we've done straight comparisons, but it was evident in each of Apple's four demo rooms that the Hi-Fi is capable of revealing flaws in compressed audio - good for audiophiles, perhaps less so for average people or those accustomed to iTunes Music Store downloads."
On the iPod Hi-Fi:
"Clearly, the Mac Mini is not intended to deliver 3D gaming performance comparable to the iMac or MacBook Pro. It is, however, designed to deliver absolutely smokin' video playback to displays more traditionally found in the home; TVs, home theaters, etc...Neat. I really hope the DVD player on my entertainment center finally stops playing discs soon as the mac mini would now make a perfect replacement."
"Now, the mini may not be such a great deal when compared to the iMac, but it would be fair to wait and see what Dell et al have to offer."
--Martin Gordon's Blog
"We now have Intel minis squarely positioned as media centers, with an updated Front Row that finally has support for iTunes shared libraries (something a lot of people pointed out as a 1.0 shortcoming), as well as the necessary connectivity (IR remote, SPDIF port, etc...). Not bad for US$599, and sure to sell as well as the previous model, especially since it now includes AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth as well."
--Tao of Mac