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Steve Jobs: Rock Star!

, posted: 11-Jun-2010 14:35

[Author’s warning! This is quite a long post summarizing some highlights of the Apple keynote from WWDC 2010. I am unashamedly in awe of Steve Jobs new product presentations and I think I have managed to list some aspects of the presentation that I didn’t see covered elsewhere. I may be under the influence of the 'reality distortion field']

Like many of you I kept an eye on the tech bloggers live from Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Fran on Tuesday morning NZ time. They listed the features of the new iPhone and then began to generally say that while the iPhone 4 was pretty nice it was nothing revolutionary with a number even claiming it was a bit disappointing. The support for 900 MHz 3G (which wasn’t in the presentation) was a big deal for us in NZ and I guess that wasn’t picked-up on by U.S. bloggers but even so I felt something was missing in the coverage – they weren’t conveying any excitement. Had everything been leaked already?

So a couple of days later I downloaded the keynote address as I have with every iPhone keynote since January 2007 when Apple changed the mobile world. Yep, there was quite a bit more than I had seen covered and it is a pure delight to watch Steve Jobs on stage. These keynotes really are a highlight of the tech calendar.

He comes onto the stage to a rapturous standing ovation from Apple's development community and he is clearly stoked. One guy even yells out “We love you Steve” to which Steve shoots back “Thank you - I think”. Brilliant!

As usual Steve starts with a bit of a summary of how recent products are going. First up the iPad and he puts up an email that was sent to him – “I was sitting in a café with my iPad, and it got a girl interested in me. Now that’s what I call a magical device.” In a geek audience, magic. And then a list of apps on the iPad that all looked fantastic finishing with a great quote from a developer about earning more from one day’s sale of an iPad app of the periodic table than 5 years of Google ad revenue for a website with the same information.

He then outlines the fact that Apple’s products support two platforms – the open web and the curated app store. They get 15,000 apps submitted each week in 30 languages with 95% of them approved within 7 days! And he goes on to explain the main reasons for rejections. All sounded very fair to me the implication being if you don’t like it go develop for another platform, or the web.

After several developers are up on stage Steve announces that US$1 billion has been paid out by Apple to developers.

Then it was onto the iPhone – the main topic for the day. U.S. Smartphone market share (total base, not current sales) from Nielsen for Q1 2010 confirms the iPhone has 28% of total market share, second only behind RIM with 35%. Android has 9% despite the range of devices across all carriers!

Finally time for the ‘iPhone 4’ and Steve says he will focus on 8 main points.

1. Design – he opens with ‘Stop me if you’ve heard this one before’. Ba da bing! He lovingly describes how it looks, its form factor, and each button and connector. It is the ‘thinnest Smartphone on the planet.’ And coolest of all he shows how the edge stainless steel band is the main structural element of the device AND it is the antenna system for all the 5 antennas (Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, GSM, UMTS). Genius engineering of the king most closely matched by ‘early Leica cameras’.

2. The very high quality retina display with 326 pixels per inch, and that 300 ppi is apparently the ‘limit of the human retina to differentiate between pixels, so all text is like a fine printed book.’ He shows how this is very important for Asian character languages. He showed a 3GS and a 4 side by side to demo it and said that they had to get new projectors to be able to display the high res. Funnily the compression on the Podcast video renders the difference negligible. A live demo didn’t work due to WiFi congestion but Steve didn’t miss a beat and went on to show pre-loaded photos instead. He takes a parting shot at Samsung by saying that OLED displays cannot be as high res.

3. Like the iPad the A4 chip is now in the iPhone – and he shows us a blow-up of the internals of the phone, great technical detail including the larger battery. Dual mics are used for noise suppression like on the Nexus One – this is huge for using the phone in noisy environments. Oh and the phone is very Green!

4. The iPhone 4 introduces a Gyroscope – didn’t see that coming! He goes on to do a live demonstration of a game app that shows the feature, making a joke about not needing the network. He pulls up his glasses onto his forehead which looks kind of cool, and jokes that he has ‘practiced this a little bit.’ Nice.

5. Steve explains that the new camera system will take better pictures due to more than just the megapixels because such a tiny camera needs to be able to capture more photons per pixel. It can also do HD video at 720p & 30 frames per second – woah! There’s even more – they have written iMovie for the iPhone. Steve brings out the chief architect for video apps to do a live demo – and he is a cool dude, an earring in each ear and very slick for quite a tricky demo - good on Apple for getting the real people out on stage. Then Steve finishes with ‘you’ll be able to buy this app from the app store – if we approve it!” Ha.

Steve now explains why the WiFi crashed - there are 570 basestations in the room, not just users but networks, MiFi hotspots. He gets everyone to turn them off and to ‘police each other’. The laughs.

6. iPhone OS4 becomes iOS4. Had to happen. We also knew most of this except perhaps for the Enterprise features. Even though he only touches on it, the Enterprise story for iPhone is really gaining momentum. Oh and Bing is an option for search.

The 100 millionth iOS device will sell this month! Huge development base.

7. iBooks on iPhone, OK looks nice.

8. iAds. Steve says they are doing it for one simple reason “To help our developers earn money so they continue to create free and low-cost apps.” It all stays in the app meaning users will be comfortable to click on the ads. Apple sells and hosts the ads with 60% of revenue going to the developers. Steve does another great demo of an ad for a new Nissan electric car – compares how $1 of electricity gets you 38 miles compared to 5mi in a Hummer! He also shows how you can win a car and he enters the competition and shows his email address in full view. Is that an invitation to email him?

Amazingly Apple as a new entrant in this whole ad space has in only 8 weeks of ad sales been able to get US$60m of commitments, which is half of the total US mobile display advertising sales for the second half of 2010!

One more thing – of course there is – Facetime video chat. Steve says “In 2007 when we launched the iPhone it was my great privilege to make the first public call on stage to one of my best friends in the whole world, Jonny Ive, the head of our design team, and I’d like to do the same on this occasion.’ Touching And just like that the video chat which has been available on 3G handsets for over 5 years is re-invented again by Apple. It just works out of the box to another iPhone 4 user as long as both ends are on WiFi. You can use the front or back camera, portrait or landscape.

Then they show a beautiful advert for Facetime from Sam Mendes (American Beauty/Road To Perdition).

And Apple will make the Facetime protocols an open industry standard – there you go, a helping hand to other lesser mobile device makers. Mind you, they have been pretty slow to adopt Visual Voice Mail which really is an amazing voicemail experience.

They even manage to make accessories look good with the Apple bump cases that go around the edge of the phone.

Steve wraps up by saying how proud he is of the teams that work on the iPhone and he thanks them and introduces them to the audience asking them to stand-up. Very nice ending.

So, this was a very funny presentation lasting nearly 2 hours with the WiFi jokes going all the way through the second half, and a number of difficult live demos, most of which Steve does himself. He is a master presenter who loves the detail of his products for both their technology and the social transformations he knows they are driving. Like every good salesperson he plays to his strengths and nullify’s those of his competitors. A sense of laid back West Coast politics filters through and he was warm, even emotional. His gaunt frame wanders across the stage but he is completely in control and able to respond with ease to glitches and the audience.

Tell me what other CEO in any industry anywhere in the world is able to be the number 1 sales man, product evangelist, helps with product design, builds great teams, and has transformed his and other industries? That is the CEO of the second largest company in the U.S. up on stage in a pair of jeans.

And taken all together these features do make the iPhone 4 a really big jump up on the 3GS – much more than many pundits are giving Apple credit for. I'll certainly be trading in my Android unless it miraculously gets an upgrade to 2.1 or later.

Rockstar performance: Led Zeppelin circa 1972.

Other related posts:
Brands producing apps only for iPhone
The features Kiwis miss out on with Android 1.6
How can mobile operators add value to our Smartphone experience?

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Comment by muppet, on 11-Jun-2010 17:28

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Comment by brucehoult, on 11-Jun-2010 17:31

Some minor comments:

- it's 100 million iOS devices, not 1 million.

- that FaceTime showcase was not done by Sam Mendes. He's working on something else. 

Author's note by timmyh, on 11-Jun-2010 18:17

Thanks, have corrected the 100 million. 

There are a lot of web references saying that it is by Sam Mendes.

Author's note by timmyh, on 11-Jun-2010 18:19

@muppet - sorry I have no idea on the Twitter posts or if anything is automated, but wasn't me, at least not deliberately...

Comment by George, on 11-Jun-2010 22:05

ur obviously and unashamedly a pc trying to be a mac... and 4 days later with a report of an event held on tuesday nz time ... yep i reckon my thoughts are confirmed.

Comment by freitasm, on 12-Jun-2010 08:16

George, you are obviously a grumpy fellow...

Author's note by timmyh, on 12-Jun-2010 08:27

@George, I appreciate I am not early with this review, but what I thought was missing in the others I've read was any passion. Reviews and Blogs generally come down to lists of features. But to me Jobs has lifted these presentations to the level of a performance - and this one was sublime. But the performance is so great because it is backed up by substance.

Regards PC vs Mac - I have a Macbook as my main computer and an Acer Netbook XP as my travel computer. However I do find I have to use the Acer for MS Office as neither the iWork suite or Google Docs just quite does it for me - perhaps that's my PC hangover. 

Comment by Kiwipixter, on 14-Jun-2010 10:00

Good post Tim. Regarding Facetime protocols, Apple are using industry standard protocols and video codec like RSTP and h.264 respectively. So in theory Facetime clients should be able to communicate with non-Facetime clients and services. Whats holding it back is similar to IM (instant messaging) and social networks where inter-network sharing is minimal even though they use industry standard technologies.

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timmyh's profile

Tim Hayward
New Zealand

Former 'Head of Smartphones' at Vodafone New Zealand Marketing from 2006 to 2009. Looked after all key Smartphone platforms, mobile pricing plans, marketing and sales GTM activity.

Now working on mobile application development consulting and delivery especially on projects requiring support across multiple mobile platforms (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian). Please contact me if you have any projects you'd like us to consult or quote on: tim@hayward.net.nz