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Live blog: Apple's musical unveiling event in San Francisco

September 1, 2010 |  7:00 am

  Appleposter

11:21 a.m. -- Encore!

"I think we're finished," Martin says.  "Is Steve around to tell me what to do?"

The audience asks for an encore.

"I'm afraid I've played all the hits," he said. "Now we'll do the misses."

He makes some good jokes about a song with new chords "that even our closest rivals don't know anything about." 

"It's called i Minor," he says.

11:10 a.m. - Wrapping it up with Coldplay

Jobs reviews all the new products.  He mentions "the strongest lineup of iPods we've ever had."

As for Ping, "we think this is going to be very popular, very fast," because of all the people who can access it starting today.

Jobs says his familiar wind-up catch phrase of his new products: "I hope you're as excited about them as we are."

Then he talks a bit about how much Apple loves music.  "Whenever we have our music events, we like to remind ourselves why we do this -- and there's no better way to do this than to ask one of our favorite musical artists to perform."

It's Coldplay. So Chris Martin is coming out to play. "This is probably the toughest closing gig we've ever had," he says.  "We don't have any new products to announce or nearly as many billions of downloads."

He begins playing a solo song on the piano...it's "Yellow."

Now it's "Viva La Vida," which Martin says was a "pile of something," before his record company decided to push for making it into a hit song on iTunes, where it became a huge seller.  "It proves your marketing people can sell anything," Martin says cheekily.

Martin

11:05 a.m. - Streaming to Apple TV with iPad

With the new AirPlay wireless streaming feature, you can stream shows and movies from devices to the TV.

"You're going to be able to be watching a movie on your iPad, walk into your living room, push a button, and watch the rest on your Apple TV," he says.

Now for the price.  It was $229, but users thought that was too expensive.

So the new price is $99.

People applaud although this isn't much of a surprise. 

It'll be available in four weeks, and you can pre-order today.

10:55 a.m. - Content Pricing -- $0.99 to rent TV shows, $4.99 to rent movies

ATV [I wrote "$4.99 to buy" earlier -- in fact it's $4.99 to rent movies -- there's no more buying.]

Largest library of HD movies in the world -- First run HD movies, as soon as they come out on DVD, will cost $4.99TV shows will cost 99 cents.  ABC and Fox have signed on, but that's all.

"We think the rest of the studios will see the light and get on board pretty fast with us," Jobs says.

And you can watch Netflix streaming movies, including HD.

He's now showing off the Apple TV in action, playing "Iron Man II" for everyone to watch. 

You can favorite your TV shows, too -- and will let you see which episodes you haven't watched yet.  He rents an episode of "Glee" for 99 cents. "Glee" is a Fox show, of course.

10:50 a.m. - "One more thing":  Apple TV

(Image at right shows old version behind, newer in front)

Apple TV was introduced 4 years ago.  "It's never been a huge hit -- nor has any other competitive product."

But people love them, he says. "So what have we learned in the last four years?"

"The number 1, 2, and 3 thing they want is Hollywood movies and TV shows whenever they want them."

"They don't want amateur hour, they want professional content," he says. And they don't want a bunch of other stuff besides.

They also want lower prices. And not to have a computer on their TV.  And not to have limited storage.  And not to have to sync a computer. ("Most of them haven't even figured out what that is.").  And they want their device to be "silent, cool and small."

He shows the new device -- it's about a quarter the size of the original. You can easily hold it in your hand. It's on the WiFi network, has a new longer aluminum remote (still no keyboard though!!).

It's all rentals -- no purchases.  And you don't store things because you just rent them.

10:40 a.m. - Ping, the iTunes social network

"Ping" is the new iTunes "social network" that's all about music -- lets you "follow" friends and artists to see what they're saying and what they're listening to.  It'll also generate custom "charts" that show what people you follow are downloading.

So it's sorta like Facebook + Twitter + iTunes.  But it's got a very practical organizing principle.  That's what Jobs calls "social music discovery."

Some basics:  You can choose the privacy settings, including who can follow you -- friends only, friends of friends, everyone, etc. -- very Facebook like. "The privacy is super simple to set up, anyone can do it," Jobs says.

It goes live to 160 million iTunes users around the world -- a nice way to start off.  There are also 17,000 concert listings on it.

Jobs gives a demo of it -- Jack Johnson and Katie Cotton have profiles already.  Built into all of this are many "Buy" buttons -- so it's extra specially easy to buy songs.

Lady Gaga pops onto the screen!  Wee!  She has done a video for Apple announcing "how excited" she is to announce her own profile on iTunes.

Then Jobs shows Yo-Yo Ma's profile.  Not as exciting but you've got to appeal to multiple demographics. 

Ping, by the way, works on iPhones, iPod Touches and the PC.

iTunes 10 is available today.

10:37 a.m. -- on to "the duet" with iTunes

"It's clearly the number one online media store in the world," Jobs says, and drops some stats: 11.7 billions songs downloaded, 450 million movies, 35 million books and 160 million accounts with credit cards.

Now it's time for the next iTunes, version 10 -- complete with a new logo, minus the familiar CD.

Ipods 10:30 a.m. - the new iPod Touch

Jobs says the existing iPod touch is both the most popular iPod now, and the most popular portable game playing device in the world, with 50+% market share.  1.5 billion games and entertainment apps have been downloaded to the iPod Touch alone.

"People say it's an iPhone without the phone," he says. "More like an iPhone without the contract."

The new Touch is thinner.  But the big thing is that it's got the Retina Display -- the iPhone 4's super clear screen.  "It's the best display in the world," Job says.  The Touch also has the Apple A4 chip, and the 3-axis gyro.

And a front facing camera and FaceTime, to go along with the rear-facing HD camera.

It's got 40 hours of music playback.  Not quite two straight days, but you know...you need to sleep too.

The 8G  is $229, the 32GB is $299 and the 64GB is, I think! $399, but I sort of missed that last number so check back later.

10:23 a.m. - the iPod Nano

Jobs goes through the history of the Nano -- the screens get bigger and higher resolution.  "But we'd like to make it smaller and better."

How do they do that?  "We eliminate the clickwheel."

It's got multi-touch -- and looks exactly like the Chinese pictures on iLounge the other day -- a little square with a touchscreen.  46% smaller, 42% lighter.  The battery lasts for up to 24 hours.

He puts up a big Brady-Bunch like screen of 6 different screenshots of the new Nano -- FM radio, clock, photos, desktop, playlists.  Each screen is like a quarter or a fifth of the size of the iPhone screen -- a little bigger than a postage stamp.

Jobs shows off the device live -- if there's a death grip on this one, it'll be hard to avoid -- you hold the thing with a thumb and forefinger.

$149 for 8G, $179 for the 16G version.

10:21 a.m. - the iPod Shuffle

He goes through the history of the Shuffle with buttons, without them.  "People clearly miss the buttons." So they're bringing the buttons back.  The new shuffle looks extra extra small, like the size of a lapel button.  It's got playlists that it will "speak through" with its VoiceOver feature that will tell you stuff about what you've got on there, and when the battery needs charging.  15 hours of songs.

Price: $49.

10:20 a.m. - the entree: iPods

"Let's get on to the entree," Jobs says. "iPods."

They've sold 275 million of the devices.

"Even though the iPod has a very high market share, we've never rested on our laurels," he said.  "This year, we've gone wild."

All of the models have been redone, he says.

"It's the biggest change in the iPod lineup ever."

10:15 a.m. - Steve's iPad Surprise - iOS 4.2

Jobs gives a preview of the next iOS version, 4.2.  It can do all of the things the iPhone 4 can do -- multi-tasking, for instance -- and now wireless printing for the iPad.

The other new feature is called AirPlay -- it's a renamed version of AirTunes, the Wi-Fi music feature that lets you play music all over your house.  But now it will also stream videos and photos over Wi-Fi.

Jobs shows off the other basic iOS features on the iPad -- folders, etc.

iOS 4.2 is coming out in November.  "We couldn't be happier about the progress of iOS," Jobs says, and rattles off the big iOS device numbers again.

10:11 a.m. - Epic Games - "Project Sword"

Epic shows off a high-resolution 3-D iPhone game that looks a lot like World of Warcraft.  Capps and his partner  show off the game.  It's kind of like Street Fighter -- with two knights whacking each other with swords.

The effect may be a little deceptive because the game screen is 20 feet tall -- and the phone is only a couple of inches tall.  Either way, the game will be out for the holidays on the iPhamily of mobile devices.

10:07 a.m. - iOS 4.1 -- available next week

They've fixed a bunch of bugs in the new version of the operating system.  Now there is something called "High Dynamic Range" photos.

HDR, as he calls it, is an exposure compensation mechanism that helps the iPhone take better-exposed photos by taking 3 at 3 different exposures.  (This is a process photographers call bracketing).  Then the iPhone will actually combine the 3 photos so all parts of the scene are nicely exposed.  It's a little bit of a Photoshop trick but will result in better photos.

There's a multiplayer "game center" that will allow you to play games remotely with friends or strangers.

Jobs gives a plug to Epic Games' new game, invites Mike Capps, the president of Epic, onstage.

10:05 a.m. -- iOS update

Jobs calls Apple's mobile operating system "a revolution."  They've now shipped 120 million devices that run the system since it launched in 2007.  That's a pretty big number.

"We are activating a little over 230,000 new activations a day," he said. "We think some of our friends are counting upgrades in their numbers."

That's a dig at Google, which often lists large numbers of daily Android devices activating.

Jobs said Apple users are downloading 200 apps every second -- and there are 250,000 apps on the App Store.  25,000 of them are for the iPad -- that number is growing pretty quick.

10 am - Music begins

Steve Jobs comes out -- he's got a short haircut.  He announces that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is here too, he calls him "my partner in crime."

Jobs shows photos of new retail centers in Shanghai and Paris, both of them architectural marvels.  There's a third store in London, in an old restored building in Covent Garden.  "A lot of restoration was required," he said.

Jobs said there are now 300 Apple retail stores in 10 countries.  "Some of us remember when we opened our first one and wow, we've come a long ways."  Soon there will be a store in Spain, too.

Several days a month, he says, there are 1 million visitors a day to the stores.

9:53 a.m. -- Preshow

Boy, is it hot up here in San Francisco.  Don't wear a jacket.  The Yerba Buena Center is packed, and for AT&T users, there's next to no cell reception -- likely because of the nuclear concentration of iPhone users.

Stand by, the show will begin soon.

***

Apple Inc. will showcase a new set of products and services Wednesday starting at 10 a.m. Pacific time.  The products are likely to be music-related, given the company's invitation to the event (pictured). There also has been speculation that Apple will announce a new Apple TV set-top box, possibly for as little as $99. The device may be aimed at lower-cost movie and TV-show rentals, a feature that would mark Apple's entry into the burgeoning online rental business.

Our story on the rumors surrounding the new products is here: "Rumors swirl as Apple gets set to release new products."

We'll begin blogging the event live a little before 10, so be sure to check back.  Apple is also offering a live webcast of the event (see info here) -- but it's only available via Apple devices.

-- David Sarno

Images by David Sarno.  Yerba Buena Center, new iPods, Apple TV, Chris Martin of Coldplay.

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