Has Apple lost its mojo?
Today’s “big announcement” was pretty thin — the iPod will get a bigger hard drive and a slightly bigger display, and iTunes will sell downloadable Disney movies.
A new version of iTunes has some nifty improvements — you can use it to synchronize a music collection between home and work computers, and use album art to browse a music collection, just like the new Windows Media Player that Microsoft previewed last May.
Steve Jobs also teased an upcoming $299 device code-named the iTV Box that will wirelessly stream video content from iTunes to a television. Maybe there’s more to the story, but what I’ve heard so far is hardly revolutionary.
Similar devices have been available to PC users for years — Microsoft calls them “media extenders” and most electronics stores call them wireless media adapters. They cost around $299 when they were introduced three or four years ago but now you can buy a D-Link version for $149 at Fry’s.
Now I know why Apple doesn’t sell a Wi-Fi iPod or an iMac with a TV tuner — it wants you to buy a $299 wireless media adapter instead.
Update: Kim Peterson was at the Apple press conference and we posted her report here.
Update 2: I’ve been playing around with the new version of iTunes (version 7) and the album cover browsing feature works really well, as long as you’ve got the artwork sorted out in your music collection. The software can add artwork to your songs automatically, but only if you’re registered with the iTunes music store and only if the store carries those songs. I believe the previous version would grab artwork without requiring you to have an Apple account (which requires a credit card or PayPal account … ) but I have to double check that.
The synchronization between multiple computers only works with computers on a local network.
Also new is a feature that backs up music stored in iTunes to disks. It prompts you to load either CDs or DVDs, one at a time, until the collection is backed up. But the disks can’t be played by themselves in a CD or DVD player, they’re only good for restoring a lost digital music collection.