As is no doubt being reported across the entire blogosphere and tech news feeds everywhere, Apple had a bit of a bumper Macworld 2005, introducing in particular a new desktop, a new iPod and a new software suite.
First off the latter, iWork. About time too, I say. iWork contains Pages, a word processor and Keynote 2, the presentation package. The incumbent OS X office suite, AppleWorks 6, feels like the OS 9 port it is, and MS Office is as expensive and unstable as you might expect – at least the Office X that I use is. It will be nice to use an alternative to Word for once. And for £49 (or $79) this looks like pretty good value. Unfortunately there is no spreadsheet software included, so Office will have to be retained for Excel. Actually Excel on a PC is one of Microsoft’s best pieces of software. Sure it’s bloated (what MS software isn’t?) but it’s incredibly good at what it does. The usability of the Mac version isn’t a patch on the PC original though – anyone who has tried to edit complicated formulae referencing lots of cells will know this.
And so to the iPod Shuffle. What no screen? Time for some humble pie Mr Gruber. At £69 ($99) for 512 Mb, I reckon these will fly off the shelves. Getting around the lack of screen by simply running in shuffle is one those genius ‘not a bug but a feature’ moments. And for me, it works.
Finally, the Mac Mini. What a crap name. That aside, I wondered who this is aimed at? Perhaps Apple wants to convert those remaining PC switchers – give them a cheapo Mac so they can use their existing screens, keyboards etc. If I was in that position I’d probably look to buying a second hand iMac G4 instead. However, Apple may well end up selling a lot of these machines to companies instead. Multimap for example, had some budget set aside for an iMac G5 or two but that may well be spent on a bunch more Mac Minis which could happily be used with the plethora of LCD monitors about the place. This seems quite likely as most of the dev team are itching to move over to OS X (those that don’t already use their own iBooks and PowerBooks). I daresay Multimap is not alone in that thinking.