Apple products overshadowed by Jobs’ return

September 9, 2009

Steve Jobs’ return to the public eye on Wednesday stole some of the attention from Apple’s products announcements which, if not earth-shattering, weren’t exactly chopped liver either.

The company unveiled new, cheaper iPod touches and affordable iPod nanos with video cameras. It also showed off the latest version of the iTunes software with new bells and whistles likely to cheer music lovers, including iTunes LP, which offers additional content such as liner notes, making a downloaded album a bit more like its vinyl predecessor.

Analysts liked the new nano most of all, although some wondered why the touch didn’t also receive a camera, as had been rumored.

Gartner analyst Van Baker said “it was nice safe choices for Apple, iterative improvements in the product line. I think the nano is going to do extremely well in the holiday.”

He said the nano could emerge as something of a threat to the Flip, the wildly popular mini camcorder.

“The Flip’s got some differentiators. That being said, the iPod is the device that most people carry with them all the time. And if they’ve got a video camera built into it, do they need to go buy another one? For a lot of people they’ll be really happy with the nano solution. To that extent, it will erode flip’s position in the market.”

David Murray, author of “Borrowing Brilliance” and former innovation guru at Intuit, said from a product standpoint there wasn’t anything too impressive on display at the Apple event Wednesday. He said the iPod line is difficult to keep innovating on. But Murray, like others, is more than a little intrigued by Apple’s tablet, a device that exists still only in rumors.

“I think they can do it… they didn’t invent MP3 technology, but they sure perfected it. They’re really good at taking ideas…[and] maybe somebody hasn’t executed it right. And if there’s one thing Jobs is good at, he’s good at recognizing a good idea, and then executing the hell out of it.”

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