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Big Apple
copyright 1999 Andrew C. Stone All Rights Reserved.

It's only 7:30 AM and I'm sitting hunched over a powerbook squatting in a static queue 4 people wide that extends the entire 4 city block length of Javits Center in NYC for MacWorld 1999. There are thousands of Mac faithful already waiting patiently in line for Steve's keynote at 9AM. Given history, I might be standing here for a quite awhile - one of the tricks of the smoke-machines-and-Marshall-stack rock-and-roll machinery that produces these events is the building of anticipation.

Conversations cover the gamut of what will and will not be announced today - that forth matrix box containing the consumer laptop has been aching to be filled for some time now. Someday, those consumer boxes will be running OSX, but until then, I'll keep taking speaker positions to promote the simple fact that OSX is more than a server. By 9am, the line goes all the way around the back side of Javits towards the Hudson river, snakes back to 10 avenue, doubles back the entire length of the convention center. Finally, we get let in, and its standing room only, being rebroadcast throughout the Javits center.

Who better to open the event than a Steve Jobs clone? Noah Wiley, the ER actor who played Steve in "Pirates of Silicon Valley" jumped up and started babbling about "insanely great" stuff.
Apple's bottom line looks great as the 7th consecutive profitable quarter was announced, 203 Million profit in fiscal Q3. There is 3 billion in cash, and a planned 500 million Apple stock buy back program being put in place. Apple's taken "Just in time inventory" to a new level - while other PC vendors like Dell have 6-9 days inventory, Apple has it shaved down to 15 hours of inventory, 0.6 days.

Once again, Quicktime 4.0 was heralded: 23 Million downloads of the Starwars trailer (most at full 25 Megs resolution) which was 400 terabytes of downloads. OSX Server got a tiny mention when QuickTime TV was announced -which is basically a free version of the Quictime Streaming Server. Also announced was a free, Darwin-based version of the streaming server.

There are 4 components to QT TV: TV receiver, TV station, Broadcast Network and Content. On the broadcast side, Apple has been working with Akamai for internet rebroadcast to local recipients - which provides a dramatically better experience.
Some of the stations available now include: BBC world news, Bloomberg televesion, NPR (National Public Radio), The Weather Channel, WGBH Boston, ABC News, ESPN, RollingStone, VH1, and Disney. What sets QT apart from the competitors is that is was designed for highest quality video, including scaleable quality as broader bandwidths appear.

OS X developers will have to wait longer for our time in the sun - Mac OS 9.0 formerly referred to as "Sonata" will ship in October. It features over 50 new features, most highlighted was Sherlock 2. It features sets or "channels" of information such as "News" and an LDAP "People Search", or E-commerce shopping with price comparisions. It's very slick. Price is set at $99.

9.0 also features multi-users and in this regard, is basically OSX with training wheels. Apple is trying to get its customers used to the feature set we have been living and breathing for the last decade! It also has built in file encryption, and KeyChain - a service which remembers all of your passwords and loginnames for websites, file encryption, etc. Another cool feature is the voice print recognition for login via speaking a pass phrase.

Finally, the long awaited moment - the filling in of the fourth quadrant of the CONSUMER/PRO DESKTOP/PORTABLE matrix. As a preface, stats on how well the iMac has been selling: more last quarter than total shipped before. 1.9 Million iMacs were sold in its first year. 89% are being used for surfing the Internet, and 33% are first time computer buyers. "LifeSavers" was internal name for the multi-colored iMacs.

There are now125 usb devices shipping, 125 more announced. Steve demoed a tiny portable scanner from NEC which gets its power from the USB port. Also announced were 3 combo print, scan, and fax devices from Epson and Canon.

There are almost 4000 new and renewed apps for MacOS. Jason Jones, cofounder of Bungie, demonstrated their new game "Halo" - an action game that can be netbased and features cooperation (see

An alliance with IBM was announced to add ViaVoice speech recognition software to Mac. A letter to mom was typed via voice as a demo.

Then the unveiling - the iMac to go... "iBook". These super slick consumer laptops feature:

-12.1 TFT display 800 by 600
- 4 MB video ATI Rage mobility
- 300 MHz G3 with 512 backside cache.
- 24 CD rom
- 32 megabytes RAM
- 3.2 GIG hard disk
- 56K modem
-10/100 enet
- Full size keyboard.
- 6 hour battery life
- It has a handle
- comes in tangerine and blueberry
- charger has builtin cable wrapper.
- $1599
- Available in September.
The coolest part of the demo was the introduction of "AirPort" - a wireless LAN developed in conjunction with Bell Lab's Lucent Technologies. AirPort has two components - the AirPort Base Station, a small flying saucer shaped object which has a 56K modem and twisted pair port, and the AirPort card which fits a slot under the iBook keyboard. The throughput of the LAN is 11 megabits/second and one station can serve up to 10 iBooks, at a distance of up to 150'. The iBook was designed from scratch to be a wireless unit, and has two builtin antennae which plug into the AirPort card. The card is $99; the base station is $299.

Well - I'm off to give my talk - "Mac OS X for the Graphics Professional" at the MacWorld Pro Conference track.

July 21st, 1999 NYC

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1999-07-21 12:23:32 -0400
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