With 2009 half way over, we’ve seen a lot of updates from Apple (s aapl), from new portables to new iPhones and some hot new Pro Apps, but several sections of Apple’s product lineup have not been updated in quite a while.
Products such as the Apple TV, some software titles, and others are getting a bit long in the tooth. We know our mainstream products like iPods will see an update in the next few months, but what about some of the others? What’s the deal and what could be in store?
Apple TV, the little iPod for your television, has not seen a hardware update since 2007 when Apple introduced a larger 160GB model. Though there have been price cuts since then, and the introduction of the “Take 2” Apple TV software, the device itself really has not seen any updates since its introduction.
Originally referred to as the fourth leg on a four-leg stool (according to Jobs, referring to Apple’s product lineup), it has since been relegated to a “hobby” and now something that hasn’t seen much attention at all. The hacking community has provided a number of plugins and add ons to allow additional functionality, but Apple has only offered small software updates for compatibility with the Remote app or other products (new AirPort base stations, etc.). The device itself runs a variation of Mac OS 10.4! With the release of Snow Leopard, will we see any updates? Apple calls it a DVD player for the 21st century. I’m quite sure a DVD player for the 21st century involves Blu-ray, so where’s the love?
The last major version of Aperture (version 2.0) was released in February 2008. Though small updates have been released to provide support for newer camera models, Apple’s own consumer application iPhoto ’09 boosts features that make some Aperture users jealous. Face recognition and geo-tagging support are two such examples that blur the lines between those who might want to use Aperture versus iPhoto. (Aperture of course has a much different market, aiming to compete with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, but still, users do feel a bit left out.)
When Aperture was originally introduced, it was quite a performance hog. To be fair, however, at the time, most Macs were Power PC based. The switch to Intel (s intc) processors as well as newer versions that included more optimized code allowed for a better experience. No doubt the introduction of Snow Leopard will also bring about further performance improvements to Aperture as well. The question remains though, after Snow Leopard launches will we see new software in October, or will we have to wait until a more appropriate time next year?
As an aside, I do recognize Apple just released new versions of Logic Studio and Final Cut Studio, but in all the fanfare, nothing has been mentioned about anything Snow Leopard specific. With all the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the performance features Snow Leopard is supposed to bring, one would think there could be several areas where these titles could take advantage.
Wow. Where to start with this one? Of all the Apple products that seem to carry an “Apple tax,” the displays rank among the highest. Rightfully they should as they are really high quality products. That being said, Apple has silently discontinued both their 20” and 23” displays, opting to replace them both by a very expensive 24” LCD display. The cream of the crop 30” display is only briefly mentioned on Apple’s website with a link to its online store. Where does the future of its displays lie? The mini DisplayPort can handle the high resolution of the 30” Cinema Display, so providing Apple could actually create an LED equivalent, it should be compatible with all of its latest products.
On the entry level side, $899 is still a hefty price for the smallest display. Looking at the iMacs, these displays are still CCFL based (cold cathode fluorescent lighting). This could explain why the LED Display is pricey compared to an entry level iMac which features a slightly smaller display but also a whole computer inside.
Another consideration for displays is the resolution they support. The 17” MacBook Pro features a high resolution 1920×1200 display that is LED-backlit. That resolution is equivalent to the resolution of the 24” LED display and looks really good, considering it’s packed into a display that is seven inches smaller.
Apple desperately needs a smaller entry-level display to replace the now defunct 20” Cinema Display, and the entire lineup could benefit from supporting a higher resolution all around.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
These are just a few examples of products that haven’t really seen great updates lately, but history has taught us that Apple always comes through and woos its fans.
My question to you, the readers, is this: Do you think that Apple has been allocating all of its resources into completing Snow Leopard and the iPhone 3.0 launch? Or, do you think the neglect that some of these other projects have seen is because Apple has been focusing its development efforts on some as-of-yet unannounced new product, like the rumored tablet? We’ve seen some great new products this year, but even the latest versions of Logic Studio and Final Cut Studio aren’t entirely revolutionary. They didn’t even garner a media event.
My personal opinion is that this is the case and Apple has been working to complete Snow Leopard and the iPhone 3.0 OS, but has been focusing a major portion of its team on something we don’t know about yet. Remember what Steve always says: When the economy is rough, Apple’s solution is to innovate its way to success. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!