Apple CEO and the WWDC speech

Apple CEO and the WWDC speech

At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference CEO Steve Jobs, showman extraordinaire, owns the stage at each event, as he pulls back yet one more curtain on yet one more surprise product announcement.

What was the reaction to Jobs' spiel this year?

If you're taking stock by a quantifiable metric, a look at Apple's closing share price Monday meant a thumbs-down from investors. Apple ended the day down US$4.30, or off 3.45 percent, to $120.19. (But only a month ago, Apple's price was only $106.78, so there's that.) Other, more subjective ratings of the keynote ranged from "underwhelming" by Gene Munster, a Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst who covers Apple, to "uneventful," which is what Kevin Hunt of Thomas Weisel Partners LLC called it.

And what of Apple's customers? The Unofficial Apple Weblog site posted a poll asking users to rank Jobs' effort with a 1-5 scale (5 is best). As of Monday afternoon, with 6194 votes tallied, 68.9 percent gave it a mediocre (3) or worse.

What was the day's biggest tease?

Moments after Jobs began his keynote, alert users noted that the US version of Apple's online store was offline, and the familiar "We'll be back soon" Post-it had been slapped on their browsers. That sent tongues wagging, since in the past it meant the site was being prepped with new hardware. And since at least some of the rumours leading up to WWDC had said Apple would update its iMac line, all assumed the gossip was gospel. But when the store came back online toward the end of the 90 minutes, it only sported a new look, not new hardware.

Jobs is famous for his "one more thing" announcements at these wingdings. What was it this time?

Actually, he had two up his sleeve. The first, which he debuted about 70 minutes into the keynote, was Safari on Windows. To say that was a surprise would be an understatement: None of the tip sheets leading up to Monday pegged that as among their many possibles. Right after that, Jobs launched into the final segment, which dealt with the iPhone.

As he hinted last week when he said that security concerns were paramount, Jobs repeated that Apple won't let third-party developers craft applications using a traditional software development kit. Instead, they can build web-based applications using Javascript (he specifically mentioned Asynchronous Javascript and XML, better known as AJAX) that run within the Safari browser embedded in the iPhone.

What was Jobs' best stick-it-to-Microsoft moment?

No contest. As he wrapped up his top 10 list of Leopard features, Jobs poked at Windows Vista's plethora of prices and its scads of SKUs. "We've got a basic version [of Leopard], which is going to cost $129. We've got a premium version, which is gonna cost $129," Jobs said. "We've got a business version, $129. We've got an enterprise version, $129. And we've got the ultimate version, we're throwing everything into it: It's $129. We think most people will buy the ultimate version." Lots of laughs.

How could I have missed all that? How can I make amends?

Apple has posted a Quicktime video stream of Jobs' keynote on its Web site.

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