I can't begin to explain how much of a let-down the Apple launch was last night, and Steve Jobs has only got himself to blame.
He has single-handedly created an expectation that every time he holds a press conference, he's going to unveil the most amazingly amazing thing Captain Amazing has ever produced from his amazing shed.
The lack of official pre-launch information. The over-controlling PR machine. The drama of his arrival on the stage, followed by a measured delivery that drops each new product bombshell at exactly the right time. All these things normally work brilliantly -- think iPhone 3G and MacBook Air to give just two recent examples. But not this time.
This time, he pulled out athat looks like the one from 2006, a few trivial upgrades to that I've already forgotten about and an with a built-in speaker that talks to your shoes. Ta-da!
Perhaps I'm just sore that I had to work late. But the truth is Steve didn't need to pull an amazing new iPod out of his magician's hat. As he made very clear, Apple has won the digital music war.
The company is the number-one manufacturer of MP3 players in every country that it cares about, and by a massive margin. It's simply inconceivable that anyone else could ever catch them up in terms of sales, except by giving them away in packs of Frosties. And even then, it probably wouldn't make any difference.
That means there's simply no overriding imperative to innovate like there used to be. Apple can afford to focus its attention on the, or updated , or whatever else it's working on now.
iPods are really good products just as they are -- I've bought them pretty much from the beginning and loved them all. They are easy to use, look cool and best of all, they just work.
Ultimately, I've no problem with there being no gargantuan iPod advances left, but perhaps next time, Mr Jobs, you could give the big press conference a miss and just send out a memo instead?