Apple Back to the Mac Event: Roundup

What a fun day! We had our two men in the field snapping pics and liveblogging, lots of excitement in the air and some sweet jazz and the Peanuts theme playing before the event, and the rest of us sitting at home with our fingers crinkled in anticipation. The Apple Store went down, as expected, and then the feed began.

The event began with Steve Jobs walking on stage saying, of course, "We've got some fun stuff to share with you this morning." Then he noted something interesting, that because the event was taking place in a "more intimate setting", he "thought it would be nice to have the engineers who worked on these projects demo them to you." That meant that immediately he'd be handing the mic over to Apple's Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who would be giving some statistics, this section titled, ironically and appropriately, "The State of The Mac."

Cook began by stating that Mac made up 33% of Apple's revenue last year, a third of the whole, that 33% totaling $22 billion dollars, a new record for Apple. He noted that if the Mac company were a separate company, it would be at #110 on the Fortune list. Last year, he said, they sold 13.7 million units in the fiscal year, three times as many as they did five years ago. This led to an incredible increase in the install base, he said, making it just shy of 50 million users. Last quarter Mac grew 27%, 2.7x growth of the market, and has now been outgrowing the market for 18 quarters in a row. Mac's market share in August in the US was 20.7% which means that 1 in 5 machines sold in the US were Macs. That's a lotta Mac metal.

Cook went on to note that currently there are 600,000 registered Mac developers, growing at a rate of 30,000 a month. He gave the example of the new developer Valve, creator of Steam, bringing titles to PC and Mac simultaneously. Also Autodesk, which creates AutoCAD, is now bringing it to Mac. Microsoft Office 2011 is coming to Mac, and he gives them props on doing a marvelous job. He stated that ACSI gave Apple number 1 in customer satisfaction, that Consumer Reports have Apple number one for the last decade in customer support. He mentions that PC World gave Apple number one in reliability, in both desktop and laptop, and that PC Magazine gave Apple Reader's Choice in both laptops and desktops.

Cook continued by displaying some of the fanciest of Mac stores, noting that Mac retail only began less than 10 years ago. He shows the flagship store in NYC, mentions that stores say there've been 75 million visitors last Quarter, them selling 2.8 million Macs, and that about half of those customers are new to Mac. He displays some more of the brilliant stores in places like London, Shanghai, Beijing, and notes that stores in China have the highest traffic, reminding people that if they thought it was busy at the Apple stores they visit, they should think twice about cramming themselves into an Apple store in China. Though, if you take a look, they do seem to have the prettiest facades.

After that it seemed to be all apps and updates: iLife '11 including such lovelies as iPhoto '11 with easy to use slideshow themes, email and Facebook integration, and lots of fullscreen action, iMovie '11 with the snazzy new movie trailer feature which makes for you something rather epic out of simple dragging and dropping, and GarageBand '11 which includes Flex Time, cutting the amount of time you spend matching up those guitars down to nothing.

At this point in the presentation, our writer Chris Davies spotted an interesting preview which he hypothesized correctly about: is that icon pointing toward FaceTime integration on desktop machines? Why yes, yes it is. Steve steps back on stage and announces that FaceTime will not only be working on notebooks and desktops, there's a Beta of it available for download today. After that, they let the Lion out of the cage and announced a MacBook that'll have a touchscreen, but kept them both on the chain for now, hinting at a summer release time.

Next was an official announcement of the split of the App Store from the rest of iTunes. Steve went on to say that this App Store would be in the dock for easy access, and that instant updates and all that good stuff would come with it. Then came Mission Control which will be the God of all the rest of the things you're working with on your Mac.

And then, of course, there was "one more thing." You'll recognize this term if you've been following these lectures by Steve and the crew. That one more thing turned out, as I'm sure you're aware, to be two: the 13.3" MacBook Air, tiniest of fellows, and it's even smaller brother, the 11.6" MacBook Air. So very thin, so very light, and so very much the smallest and cutest notebooks on the market. Of course we had some hands on them almost zero moments later in the setup out back of the presentation.

All this and more! For a different angle on the whole situation, head on over to the analysis as done by the fabulous Ben Bajarin: Apple Keeps the Mac Roaring. Then if THAT isn't enough for you, take your clickers over to the 11.6" MacBook Air unboxing post we've got, because you KNOW we bought one the moment we could throw our billfolds over the counter for such magical electronics.