Macworld ’09: The Sweet, the Meh, and the Lame - Macenstein

Macworld ’09: The Sweet, the Meh, and the Lame

When I heard Phil Schiller was going to be delivering the keynote speech at Macworld this year, I thought that, if anything, it might make for an exciting Keynote. Not because Phil is a charismatic ball of excitement, but because he is so UN-Steve-like, that I could not imagine that Apple would throw him to the wolves by putting him on stage armed only with iTunes and Apple Store sales data. They HAD to have something cool, right?

Photo Engadget

Well… if you really want to know how I felt, read on for the Sweet, the Meh, and the Lame of the Macworld ’09 keynote speech.

The Sweet

• iPhoto face recognition – I am a big fan of Keywords in iPhoto, and I use them to quickly find pics of my kids for various events and such. The problem, of course, is that I haven’t had the time to sit down and label all the pics in over a year. Assuming this works as advertised, it will be a truly useful timesaver, and a welcome addition. (I wonder how well it does as the kids age…?)

• iMovie image stabilization – Again, I would have to see this to be sure, but from all appearances, it should be pretty cool. Unfortunately iMovie ’08 rates at the top of my list of “The Crappiest Software of All Time”, and I have sworn off using the app for the next 5 years. But for those of you who DO use iMovie, this seems like a cool update.

• 17-inch MacBook pro has a matte display – I actually love the glossy display, but the fact that there is a matte option is awesome if for no other reason than to shut up all the “graphics pros” who would bitch about it if it didn’t.

• More iTunes DRM free tracks – This is cool, and would be cooler if we could upgrade all our existing purchases for free. Of course, Apple also introduced both lower prices, and HIGHER prices for songs, so until we see which songs get (over)priced and which do not, maybe we should hold off getting too excited here.

• No unnecessary cramming of MobileMe down our throats! – Each year it seemed Apple added less and less to the iLife suite, and more and more MobileMe tie-ins. Those of us who do not want to sign up for MobileMe finally have an iLife update with new functionality we may actually use!

The Meh

• iPhoto’s geotagging – I don’t know how much traveling you need to do for this to truly be useful, but if it gets you all excited to search for photos via a map, then more power to you. The problem is, aside from the iPhone’s horrible camera, most of us do not have a GPS enabled camera to take advantage of this feature, so to use this well be doing quite a bit of manual data entry.

• Celebrity Garage Band Artist lessons – Every once in a while Apple introduces something that you just know will become one of those “Hey, remember when Apple did that?” kind of things, and the celebrity lessons just feels like something that will fizzle and die. Remember, kids, great performers do not necessarily equal great teachers.

• Keynote remote app – I guess there are a couple people who might use this, but certainly not enough to warrant the amount of applause it got. I think people were so desperate for anything iPhone-related from Apple they they sort of over-reacted.

• – I have yet to come across one person that uses Pages, so the idea that two or more people would not only use it, but they would need to collaborate and mark up their Pages documents via the web seems like wishful thinking. Top it off with the fact that Apple plans to eventually charge for this, and I think most iWork users will stick with e-mailing documents for now. [EDIT: OK, I get t, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY READERS USES AND LOVES PAGES. (I still haven’t met any of you though…) ]

• Mac Box set – Leopard, iLife, iWork: Well, given that any real Mac fan already owns Leopard, and 2 of the three come free on any new Mac any new Mac converts might buy… I’m not sure who this bundle appeals to. I guess it’s like buying iWork and iLife and getting another copy of Leopard for free. If you need this, then great, but I can’t get too excited over it.

• Tony Bennet – A Step up from Randy Newman, sure, but has Apple ever looked out at the crowd at Macworld? It doesn’t cossover much with the audience of the Lawrence Welk show. Next time, Apple (and I realize there IS no next time), take a quick look at your iTunes top selling artists before booking.

The Lame
(I’ll just breeze through these as the titles pretty much sum theselves up)

• No new Apple TV
• No New Mac mini
• No new displays
• No iPhone/iPod touch software update
• No iPhone/iPod touch hardware update
• No removable battery for 17-inch MacBook Pro
• 17-inch NOT shipping today
• iLife ’09 NOT shipping today
• iWork ’09 IS shipping today

Well, there you have it, my take on Macworld – the only take worth taking. So, how did YOU like the last ever Macworld keynote? Did it go out with a roar, or a whimper?

31 Responses to “Macworld ’09: The Sweet, the Meh, and the Lame”
  1. Chris says:

    Some of the new stuff is good but your Lame list is right on.

  2. Jerry says:

    I would say it was MEANT to go out with a whimper. Less reason for us to miss it.

  3. Killer's Dad says:

    Just One More Thing, now we’ll have to suffer the mass of peons at an Apple Store to hopefully experience the new creativity of Apple, Inc.

  4. MMM says:

    Well we knew about the 17″ Macbook Pro anyway, but not the fixed battery.

    The real interest for me was the lack of Mac Mini and iPod Nano, despite the mass of evidence to back them up. After years of shutting down rumour sites that effectively confirmed them, Apple now lets everything slide so that the truth is lost beneath the made up stuff.

    I’m sure that some companies are hedging their bets and posting speculative products with no links. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple are actively courting some companies to make stuff up as well, just to thicken up that smokescreen even more.

  5. Kevin says:


  6. jonro says:

    Do you think that Steve would really trust Phil with the big stuff? Not until he has a few more events under his belt. Sharing and collaborating on spreadsheets and word processing documents? I have that now. It’s free from Google and works well. Too bad Apple didn’t allow it to work from any domain for free. They would sell a lot more copies of iWork if they did.

  7. Zack says:

    Theres no way that they would make their last macworld the venue of any super exciting announcements. The question is – now that they have bowed out of macworld, what are their venues for exciting announcements and when is the next one.

  8. Patrick says:

    1. You have now “come across” one person who uses Pages.

    2. Tonny Bennet has transended his genre (jazzlike crooning) to become an icon. I’m not a big fan myself, but the cool kids love him. By the way, Mick Jagger is 65.

  9. thefreemac says:

    #2 Pages user and add 300 kids where I teach. iWork is an amazingly good suite of software. You just have to get into it.

    What we do need, tho, is a cheap way to get 200 Macs up to OSX 10.5 from 10.4.

  10. you have now come across TWO people who use Pages.

    doesn’t the little mac remote control Keynote too? I used it a lot for presentations and teaching in grad-school. i’m not sure i want a larger remote for changing slides – it ruins some of the magic.

  11. Lars Beduhn says:

    quote: “ – I have yet to come across one person that uses Pages, so the idea that two or more people would use it, and need to collaborate and mark up their Pages documents via the web seems like wishful thinking. Top it off with the fact that Apple plans to eventually charge for this, and I think most iWork users will stick with e-mailing documents for now.”

    Seriously Doc… as much as I respect you, have you ever actually USED Pages ?! I most certainly doubt it. I’ve been using VARIOUS Text-Editing/Writing etc. Software during the last 10yrs or so.
    Starting with some MS-DOS Software… WordPerfect (way before it was acquired by Corel) Office 97 thru 2007 on the Windows side, Office 2004 and 2008 on the Mac and… of course Pages 08.

    Till I switched to the Mac 4 yrs ago (the then 4-6yrs old) WordPerfect was my favorite, as it was both easy to use and featured some layouting capabilities MS Word still kind of lacks today.
    Word 2007 offers some ‘great’ features that kind of get over the ‘Meh’, but it still sucks. The new InterfaceLayout… was the worst idea in history as it both lacks style and usability.
    Word 2008 on the other hand moves (interface-wise) b/w Word 2004 and 2007 while gaining some pseudo Mac-Style. While it’s gotten WAY better than its predecessor it’s still a poor app. It’s structured like the floor in my room at times… namely not at all. Searching for certain features/effects/etc. becomes a pain in the a**. It’s gotten ‘nice’ layout capabilities compared with 2004. But in fact… they are still crap.
    I’m not going to say Pages 08 was THE perfect App… but it was a lot easier to use and more powerful and much more intuitive. What are Word’s features worth if you literally have to hunt them down?! Concerning compatibility to Office 2007 and such: Well if I was just gonna write a random letter or so… np convert it. If you were gonna go beyond this… well… you still got pdf., but at least I could actually DO something like this I could’ve never done with Word in the first place.

    I’m not to excited about myself as I prefer to just share my files via iChat or simply send them as pdf’s for a fast review… but… bashing Pages ?!
    Apple’s done some pretty crappy things in the past, made some bad decisions and delivered Software that was at times kind of crappy (see iMovie 08 or iPhone Firmware 2.0) but pages definitely does NOT deserve this bashing, period.

  12. kelly says:


    Your Lame list is right on, but I take issue with most of your Meh list.

    Hi, my name is Kelly and I use Pages. I write every day and Pages is what I use. It is much better than word. The only other program I use is Scrivener, but that is for other larger works. (Yes, I saw your edit. I’m still posting this.)

    I’m very excited about the keynote app. I think this awesome. I give a lot of presentations and this would be the best remote ever due the visual aspects alone. (No one wants to see your backside unless you’re Beyonce, and sometimes you are not in a position to see the laptop.)

    The Celebrity Lessons I think will be a big hit, but what do I know. I think with the success of Guitar Hero and RockBand, some people may actually want to learn to play an instrument and would NEVER take a lesson from anyone but a celebrity. Have to see how it works. I bet Apple gets it right.

    I’ll give you Tony Bennet. Meh!

    I think the iPhone’s camera looks better than just about any other phone camera I have seen. I would like to see some comparison shots. I am happy with the camera.

    As far as geo tagging the pics. Sounds like the new iPhoto will do it for you when you type in the NAME location it will find the GPS coordinates.

    Good post Doc.

    I could not get the live feed from where I was, but I bet it was great.


  13. kelly says:

    One more thing…

    Your iMovie ’08 comment is right on.

    iMovie ‘O8 is awful. It is the only software I know of from Apple that I could not use right out of the box. I have watched tutorials and asked for help and I am still very, very confused on how to use it.

  14. WFT says:

    hey doc,

    you’re right about imovie 08 but you never know, they miht have hidden some extra features in the new and besides this is ’09 so you can use it

  15. darrell says:

    well that’s the end of MacWorld. here’s hoping more tradeshows will follow suite and stop unloading millions into booth space. i’m looking at you autoshow!

  16. Chardish says:

    Mac Mini 3G was supposed to be the big announcement of the day, and it never materialized.


  17. Teegan says:

    iMovie ’08 is pretty bad, but it does have it’s nice aspects as well. Compared to iMovie HD iMovie ’08 is many steps backwards in terms of features and effects. Apple did not make iMovie ’08 as a movie maker that was going to give more stuff to iMovie HD, they made it so stupid people – namely new college students who have never made a video in their life before – could use it. I rarely use iMovie ’08 over iMovie HD, but I have used it…it’s really nice for making quick & dirty movies. I think that iMovie ’08 has the best ken burns editor out there – it is really simple and intuitive. iMovie HD is almost as good as FCE 4, one of the only things that I miss is not being able to have multiple video tracks. So yes, iMovie ’08 sucks unless you are someone who doesn’t know how to edit movies and/or has never seen/used a proper video editor.

  18. SirFoxey says:

    You now know another pages user.

    If they continue the box set package when Snow leopard is released. I would surely purchase a family pack upgrade. Until then the box set is a bit meh.

  19. aranhamo says:

    I’m another Pages user. I used Pages throughout my whole masters degree, collaborating with people using Word, and it performed perfectly. Nevertheless, I would still leave in the Meh section.

    I was also very underwhelmed by the keynote. Even the 17″ Macbook Pro was nothing more than everyone expected.

    I think the only thing I would change from your list would be to move Tony Bennett to the Lame section.

  20. nuvs says:


    The Mac Box set doesn’t make *any* sense if you already have Leopard. If you want both iWork & iLife, that $160 total if you buy them individually. The Box Set is $170.

  21. Matt says:

    Anyone notice the box set only costs $11 more than if you buy iLife and iWork separately? So you get a copy of Leopard for $11. Leopard retails for $129. So if you could sell your extra copy of Leopard at $129 you actually just paid $40 for iLife and iWork (sans Tax and any S/H). Hmm

  22. Kaleberg says:

    Here’s another vote for Pages. I use it when I am too lazy to go through all the InDesign setup stuff.

    The 17″ MacBookPro sounds great. It’s clearly the luxury option, but a matte screen is a big win. Matte is a class marker, like brushed nickel faucets at posh hotels instead of stainless. The battery doesn’t bother me. If I need more power I’m sure I’ll be able to find a rechargeable external gizmo that just plugs in.

    I don’t know how much movement we are going to see on the Mini / Apple TV front until the movie business gets a bit more digital. I’ve been ripping my DVD and VHS collection to digital, but most people haven’t. Maybe when the digital download box gets more established Apple’s path will become more obvious. BluRay is going to be like laser disks, a great technology, but with an uncertain life span. Hell, I even have an old laser disk player, and I’ve been ripping my old laser disks to digital. (I have no idea of how long a helium neon laser can last or if it can be repaired.)

    My guess is that we will see the actual answer. They’ll get sued and shut down. Then Apple will spend the next five years doing the same thing but with some sucky DRM. As soon as enough people decide they can live with sucky DRM, the DRM will go away. Hey, it worked for music.

  23. mario says:

    I use Pages and Keynote almost every day. I’m hoping to get iWork ’09 by the end of the month, the remote app is great for me.

  24. Big League Chew says:

    Apple is going to charge for I think GM will have more customers for the 2009 Hummer H2.

  25. Dave-O says:

    First of all, check the iTunes Store home page for the correct spelling of Tony Bennett you philistine. That was a classy way to go out.

    I agree with most of the rest except the 17″ battery (to me the lame is that my brand new 15″ MBP doesn’t have the 8-hour non-removable battery), the iPhone/iPod touch updates, and iWork shipping (seriously, how can a product shipping be lame?).

  26. Brando says:

    Another happy Pages user here, sorry doc 🙂
    And for matte display: the glossy is nice for watching movies but it doesn’t show you real colors. Yes, they’re nice and vibrant but not real. And calibrating a glossy display is a pain.

  27. The Box Set is something I believe appeals to all those who have yet to upgrade to Leopard, and only that crowd – it gives a strong incentive to upgrade, taking over $200 in software down to a somewhat more reasonable (sorta) price. I think I may get it not only to upgrade my laptop from Tiger, but to reinstall Leopard on my desktop I got from eBay. Still it’s not too exciting.

    Other than that, I found this year to be the biggest waste-of-my-life Apple event of all time. Nothing else ever came close to that bad. It wasn’t Schiller (completely), it was just a lack of anything good.

    To Be Released:
    Mac Mini, iPhone Nano, Home Server, iTablet…

  28. Abraham says:

    iWork user over here!!!!

    -and I love it especially “Numbers” it makes my life a lot easier 🙂 and is just a breeze to use 🙂 love it!!!

    oh and everyone here in the office use it because is a Micro$oft-free environment!!

    We all love our Macs 🙂


  29. Imagine Engine says:

    I actually enjoyed the keynote and some of the new stuff such as the MBP 17″ model and the iPhoto face recognition feature, the improvements to iMovie for casual editors that can’t afford FCP and hearing I can finally download music from the iTunes Store on my iPhone 3G over the cellular network, not just WIFI. What I was hoping to hear was that the MBP would have the new Intel Core 2 Quad mobile CPU, not the Intel Core 2 Duo though I like the increase in RAM as well speed. Also I was hoping to hear that Time Capsule would have an update to actually work with all-in-one (print/scan) over a WLAN and would include a web GUI to make remote logging in to the Time Capsule easier while on the road with my MBP. It would of also been nice to hear if the iPhone 3G was going to get some updated features to compete with competitors such as video recording, voice command, voice turn by turn GPS navigation, ability to add multiple attachments to an email, etc. I was also surprised Apple isn’t planning on offering current iLife 08 and iWork 08 customers an upgrade option instead of making us pay the full price for what is really an update to our existing products. I did feel Phil really performed well taking the helm of what has been a Steve Jobs main event demonstrating what Apple has done and is planning to do in the near future (ie: offering better pricing on music and increasing DRM free music).

  30. “The Best is Yet to Come.”

    Sounds prophetic to me.

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