The dramatic news from the Apple Expo: Phil Schiller is *funny*!

I think it would be fair to say that people were pitching their expectations low when it was announced that Steve Jobs would not be doing the keynote speech in Paris for Apple; instead, Phil Schiller, the worldwide veep of marketing, would hold the clicker. What! No Reality Distortion Field?

But instead he had a quite different weapon: humour. Shows an iPod ad, with the dancing silhouettes putting whirling dervishes to shame: “I wish I could dance like that,” he sighs. Which is wonderfully amusing coming from this chubby guy. But it was just one of a long linst of bon mots (hey, we’re in Paris) through the speech. There’s the music store, with “groups like Maroon 5, Bond and.. Schiller”. Turns out there really is. Then he sits down to his first demo: “let’s hope the Demo Gods are with us,” he says. (Jobs would never, ever say that.) And later: “Here’s what we call Steve’s Feature” – and he shows the slow-motion slide of something or other. It all comes over as very subtle mickey-taking against himself, the objects, our perceptions; he shows a speaker that you plug your iPod Mini into and everyone goes ooh because it’s so vast on the screen. “Yeah, it looks like it’s 80 foot up there,” he quips.

It makes you realise how uptight Jobs actually us when he speaks, the constant tension that’s actually there even though he’s completely in charge. Schiller’s a stand-up. Well, he proved it.

14 Comments

  1. Hi Charles,

    What’s the verdict from the floor – is this iMac a good move for Apple?

  2. Hmm, haven’t really had time to ask the floor – been too busy talking to honchos, head and otherwise.

    It’s impossible for it to be a bad move, really. People want a machine, and this is very elegant; once in front of it you don’t notice that it goes back some way. It “hinges” on the screen (no hinge, though) very nicely, 30-degree range. I think that when people see them they’ll go for the 20″; somehow the 17″ seems small, which is an odd thing to say (sitting in front of a 12″ screen as I type) but something about the way the white border below the screen makes the screen appear suggests that bigger will feel better.

    Just don’t let Heidi see it :-)

  3. Is this iMac a good move for Apple?

    Well it’s better than sticking with the “iMac G4″. (Better known to many as the iLamp.)
    Yeah, I know some of you really liked that Alien+Teletubby hybrid thing, though you didn’t buy enough of them and the (also ugly) eMac combined to rival the G3 iMacs’s sales. Whatever flaws this one may have, know that a lot of us are glad to see that there is an iMac again.

  4. I think the price point is really, really good. Significantly cheaper than the original, for a good spec.

    Except for the blooming RAM. 256Mb? Are you kidding? They should double the size of that chip. You can do so for 50 when ordering, but why should you have to, or even realise that you should? The iMac should be a great experience out of the box, and I don’t think 256Mb will cut it – not when iLife (with iMovie and iDVD) is a major selling point.

  5. I agree with Paul – the RAM is barely sufficient. It should be 512Mb to begin with – all the PC manufs can manage it apart from Dell at the low end. Apple has always had a blind spot about RAM. Or maybe it doesn’t mind people getting the Spinning Pizza Of Death once they’ve spent the money.

    I always recommend folk get another 512 megs from Crucial – I’ve always found them reliable.

  6. Totally agree with the RAM bit….I’ve taken to chanting “get it from Crucial” like a mantra to people buying new machines. It shouldn’t really be necessary.

    I personally loved the iLamp G4 so much I’ve got two of them. Trouble was, not enough of the general public went along with it. I read the wonderful Paul Thurrott’s blog this morning (http://www.internet-nexus.com/), to see what the old apple-hater himself had to say about the new model (I’m really very fond of Paul’s articles – Apple have obviously done something awful to this poor chap in the past! His comments usually start at vitriolic and progress from there) I see criticisms springing up along the lines of “it’s boring” and “unadventurous” The interesting thing is, they levelled the same thing at the iPod. And praised the old iMac G4 to the ground!

    I don’t suppose we’ll know how these things play till Apple gets enough of them out there ( any advance on 2005? ;-)) and the public make up their own mind.

  7. Charles,

    lol about not telling heidi. But it’s actually David you should be worried about. He has kit-hunger at the moment…. ;-)

  8. Yes, BEFORE anyone passes real judgment – go see it in person. The emac looks ungainly compared to the elegant imacs in the photos but in real life, it’s actually quite nice – especially on its optional stand. The emac is not an iconic design unlike the first 2 imacs but compared to 99.9% of PC’s, it’s very nice. I’m not in Paris so I will withhold judgment – on one hand, it doesn’t appear to be the original imac where anyone with any design sense appreciated it instantly – but keep in mind even with that, thousands/millions mocked it as candy until they saw it and then wanted one. Don’t make your judgment based on photos. Go see it – go touch it and THEN decide.

  9. Damn, do you remember that OS X was originally supposed to run on a minimum of 64 megs? With 256 megs I’m sure all iLife apps will run just fine, just not with Photoshop and Finalcut Pro at the same time…

  10. Nah, come on Beetle – if you’re using iMovie, you’re working with a (presumably non-trivial) amount of DV footage, which when burnt to DVD will probably take up over 1Gb of space. The more memory to hold that you have, the less your Mac will become unresponsive when you’re trying to work.

    Seriously, you can never have too much memory. Just try putting 64Mb of RAM in your Mac, and running OSX on it’s own. It’ll be fun, if you like trying to jog in treacle.

  11. Well, the RAM thing is just taking the margin-mickey really, since apple presumably make a mint from add on sales when sold through themselves. Basically increases the net cost of the machine for the end user and provides a nice little upgrade path on BTOs.

    The new design i personally dislike (though naturally have not witnessed personally)- the bo selecta style chin on the front makes it looks 4:3 instead of 16:9; and the whole thing looks reminiscient of the emac, which is not a highlight in apples design history, imo.

    However, its still sexier than most pcs and higher quality than the VAIO range of pcs, which are the variety of Wintel machines which try to compete in the iMacs market segment.

    The real problem is that the unit does nothing new for Apple as a business- it doesn’t expand the appeal of it’s machines to consumers in any significant way- people who would have bought a G4 iMac will now buy a G5. This machine isn’t goin to intice a new wave of mac purchasers, bar those brought across because of the product launch marketing, which is only natural.

  12. @mull — Just wondering what your idea of a unit that does something for Apple as a business would look like?

    Only time can tell whether the iMac G5 is going to be a success, but I personally believe many potential Mac – now using PC – will conceive of it as an ideal companion to their newly acquired iPods. To me that sounds like a clever strategy to attract otherwise ‘unreachable’ buyers. It may not hold its predecessors’ immediate charm, but it does, however, offer good (design) value for money.

  13. well, the units which would move apple forward as a business would have to gain them marketshare two markets- the midrange/ more value orientated comsumer segment, and the business and education market. This is where the eMac is targetted at the moment, but does not really meet expectations. The unit would most likely be headless, small, but still have the lustre of the higher end macs. The obvious candidate is the Cube design once more, in a new value segment.

    BUT

    This would horribly mess up the market segmentation scheme of the current lineup and mess with the tight image control that Apple strive for.

    There are many more factors to consider, naturally, but if you fancy looking at these permutations in the inifinite detail that only a borderline obsessive internet forum can muster, have a look at the Battlefront and Machintoshian Achaia forums at Arstechnica.com, where the Mythical Headless Value ‘xMac’ is something of a pet topic.

  14. I reckon the cheapness and the size will make the new iMac a hit with consumers. Check out these photos:

    http://www.hardmac.com/niouzcontenu.php?date=2004-09-01#2774

    So shiny! People who didn’t love the G4 iMac will love this one, cos it’s cheaper, smaller and better.

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