Apple’s Disappointing Start to the Holiday Season

Posted on September 2, 2010

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Sadly, I must admit, for the first time in years, Jobs’ latest Apple keynote disappointed me yesterday. While the sleek new iPods arriving just in time for the holiday season did impress, something was a bit lacking. Normally after a keynote, I am obsessively refreshing Apple.com to download the newest update or scrambling to plan a trip to the store to get my hands on the latest gadget. Today, I sit back and think the coolest part about the keynote was the HTML live stream.

The rumors proved true with Apple TV and for that, I’m grateful. As one who doesn’t enjoy nor see a point in paying for cable (lost that battle with the roommates), I’m happy to see Apple in contention for TV eyeballs after the epic (but healthy) fail of 2006. Never having been a big Netflix-er, I’m not immediately drawn to the product other than for the lovely fact that all files are stored in the cloud. Instead, I’d rather keep my eye on Boxee when the time comes to make the switch.

Now for the biggest disappointment– Apple’s foray into social via iTunes 10 and Ping. While I think the move into social is a good move for Apple, it seems it is a limited one. Lots of users yesterday complained about only being able to choose 10 songs in their profiles and many argued that the suggested musicians to follow were ones they’d never be caught dead listening to– ahem, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. In terms of artist profiles and tour dates, Last.fm has it locked down and even syncs with your calendar. While I don’t immediately see a need for Ping in my digital music life, I’ll most likely set it up, try it out and forget about it. Genius mixes are enough for me. If I rarely want to know what my friends are listening to, I’ll ask them. If I want to check out new music, I’ll visit Pitchfork.com, browse Hype Machine or check out new mixes on 8tracks. As Chris Brogan mentioned, there isn’t much commercial incentive to joining Ping as there is at Amazon.com, where you’re given a few dollars for “every book I guide to your hands.”

It’s not all bad. The good thing about Ping is what I’m ultimately interested in– the ability to share and gift music. It’s great that Ping is mobile and sharable via Twitter and Facebook. But, this isn’t anything new as others like Pandora are already supporting sharing. What I would argue is the best feature about the new logo-laden iTunes is that Live Nation will be powering concert listings and ticket sales right in the UI, something Jobs completely left out of the keynote.

And come on… we’re gonna rock out to Chris Martin of Coldplay?! Jobs, you’re a boomer!

Overall, I’m unimpressed. Will I try out Ping? Sure. Will I buy Apple TV? Maybe. Will I put an iPod on the gift list? Absolutely.

What about you? Which new feature/gadget/update got you excited?

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