Macworld, Without Jobs, Unveils ITunes Changes
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
In San Francisco today, Apple unveiled its latest products and software upgrades at the annual Macworld Expo. But the man on stage showing off the new wares was not Apple CEO Steve Jobs, but instead a senior vice president with the company, Phil Schiller. While the new products and features are sure to create some buzz, much of the talk at this year's Macworld has been about Steve Jobs and his health.
Yesterday, Jobs released a letter explaining that he's experiencing a hormone problem that explains the visible weight loss over the last year. Joining us from San Francisco is Tom Krazit of CNET News. And Tom, this was the first time in 12 years that Steve Jobs has not delivered that keynote speech. How much was that weighing on people's minds today?
Mr. TOM KRAZIT (Reporter, CNET News): You know, it's not clear. It had to be a little bit. Steve has been the main attraction at Macworld for a very long time now, as you mentioned. And half the fun, it seemed, for a lot of the people who attend this event was just seeing him speak in person. So, yeah, I mean, you know, there was a familiar face that was not there on stage this morning.
NORRIS: Mr. Schiller, I take, did not wear a black turtleneck?
Mr. KRAZIT: No, he went with the blue shirt and jeans, of course. I think that's a requirement at Apple that all executives have to wear jeans.
NORRIS: And of course, I mentioned the turtleneck because Steve Jobs is usually up there with that signature black turtleneck. I want to turn now to the announcements that were actually rolled out today by Phil Schiller. There is usually a lot of anticipation about some new, big, now, wow product that's going to be rolled out. What did you see today?
Mr. KRAZIT: Well, I think the two most important things that we saw today were the new MacBook Pro, and the decision to change up the pricing structure and technology used in the iTunes music store. The MacBook is interesting simply because it is going to use an integrated battery - battery that cannot be easily replaced by the user, which Apple said was a design concession it needed to make to keep the laptop thin and light as well as to extend battery life to what they're claiming can be up to eight hours.
NORRIS: In there, also, some news about iTunes?
Mr. KRAZIT: That's correct. For the first time in the history of the iTunes store, Apple will offer all of the songs on that store, by the end of April, without DRM technology, or digital rights management technology. And what that basically means is you'll be able to do whatever you want with those songs. You know, DRM technology, it's something that frustrates users, you know. They can run into problems switching songs between computers or devices, and it also has required that any song you buy from the iTunes store be played on an iPod or an iPhone. And so with this move, Apple will basically be allowing anybody who buys a song on the iTunes store to do whatever they want with it.
NORRIS: People watch Macworld for a lot of different reasons. People who are maniacal about the products follow along for one reason, and people who are interested in the health of the company follow along for another reason. What do we learn about Apple this year?
Mr. KRAZIT: Well, I think we learn that Apple is getting ready for a new era in which Steve Jobs isn't necessarily the most important person at the company or the person that people look to for guidance and leadership. You know, I think we're getting to the point in Apple's history where they realize that they're going to have to figure a way to have a leadership strategy at the company that isn't completely and totally dependent on one man because, you know, eventually, Steve Jobs is going to decide that he needs to move on from Apple, for whatever reason, and Apple, the corporation, is going to have to find a way to keep going.
NORRIS: Tom Krazit, thanks so much.
Mr. KRAZIT: You're welcome.
NORRIS: Tom Krazit is with CNET News, and he was speaking to us from San Francisco.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.