June 9, 2009
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) surprised only the terminally inattentive with the new products it unleashed at yesterday's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Some of the more notable news:
- "The fastest iPhone yet." The new iPhone is called the 3G "S" and is said to be twice as fast as the current 3G model, which means my first-generation phone is now officially a dinosaur. Enhanced battery life and the 3.0 edition of the iPhone operating system highlight the feature list. The now senior 8GB iPhone 3G was immediately reduced in price to $99.
- New MacBook models. Lower prices, longer battery life. (Noticing a theme here?) In particular, the 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,199 and is loaded with a 160GB drive and 2GB of RAM.
- Snow Leopard on the prowl. Possibly the only surprise of the day was the news that Snow Leopard, due in September, will be available as a $29 upgrade for those using the current edition of the Mac OS. Less interesting, but perhaps more important: Apple's engineers have stripped as much as 6GB from the OS, freeing hard drive space. A server version of Snow Leopard will also be available.
- Safari hunts faster. The latest salvo in the browser wars on the Mac, Safari 4 is "the world's fastest browser," says Apple.
The biggest news here is how Apple is using the new iPhone to attack smartphone rivals Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) , Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) , and most of all, Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) , whose Pre is now available at stores and directly from Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) . There's much to like about the latest model. The name (e.g., 3G S) isn't one of them -- it sounds too much like the old Mac LC. But if Apple can deliver on promises of better battery life, and if new applications make use of faster search and the phone's new cut, copy, and paste features, this handset should do well enough.
In computers, Apple is zigging as others zag. Take the 13-inch MacBook Pro. With so much horsepower -- and a $1,000+ price tag -- no one will confuse this laptop with a netbook from Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) or Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) .
WWDC was what everyone thought it would be: perfectly predictable, no One More Thing, no oohs and aahs from the assembled throng. Apple merely delivered as we expected it to.
As investors, isn't that exactly what we need right now?
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