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WWDC 2009: Time for a reality check

Apple is providing its WWDC 2009 keynote address today, providing some interesting info about its Mac and iPhone platforms. But this is Apple we're talking about. So it's time for a reality check.

75 million Mac OS X users. Apple claimed that the OS X user base magically jumped from 25 million to 75 million active users in two years. But it didn't. It jumped to 35 million users. The other 40 million are using iPhones and iPod touches. So if there are 1 billion active PC users (and that's an old figure), than OS X usage share right now is 3.5 percent. Everyone's onboard with the math, right? 3.5 percent. "No wonder everyone is trying to follow in our footsteps," Apple SVP Phil Schiller said. Right.

Macbooks magically become Macbook Pros. Apple rebranded the 13-inch Macbook as the Macbook Pro and added SD slots across the line-up. FINALLY. I've only been asking for this handy little feature for, what, 6 years? The batteries are non-replaceable. I'm pretty sure no one was asking for that feature. And they added Firewire 800. Seriously, how about two more USB ports? Oh, and $1699 to start for a lowball 15-inch unit? To Mac guys, this is big news.

Hypocrisy around Vista/7 and Leopard/Snow Leopard. This year, both Microsoft and Apple are working on revisions to existing OSes. In Microsoft's case, Windows 7 is a nice revision to Windows Vista. And Snow Leopard is a minor revision (service pack) to Mac OS X Leopard. Both Windows Vista and Leopard have had their share of problems, but Vista's are more high profile and thus, apparently, news to the wider world. But look how Apple's Darth Vader, Bertrand Serlet, describes these updates:

Windows 7: "Even more complexity is present in Windows 7. The same old tech as Vista. Just another version of Vista."

Snow Leopard: "We come from such a different place. We love Leopard, we're so proud of it, we decided to build upon Leopard. We want to build a better Leopard, hence Snow Leopard."

Um. They sound the same to me. Jerk.

For the record, Snow Leopard looks just fine to me. It should, after three years of development on a point release.

Exchange support in Snow Leopard. Apple makes fun of Microsoft to comic effect (see above) ... Unless, of course, they need Microsoft. Which they do, to add Exchange support to its products. Oh, wait. "With Exchange support built into Snow Leopard, there is no extra charge for Mac OS users while Windows users usually have to pay extra." There it is.

Safari 4 today for OS X, Windows. Yawn.

QuickTime X for OS X, Windows. Actually, this looks good. I especially like how the UI looks like no other OS X app. Nice consistency there from the HIG.

Mac OS X is not fully 64-bit. While Windows users get 64-bit versions of Windows, Mac OS X users will, in Snow Leopard, get an OS in which most of the system is 64-bit, but many "non-major system apps" are still 32-bit.

Snow Leopard pricing. Apple is finally charging the right price for the latest in a long list of minor upgrades: $29 to Leopard users. This is exactly right, and should serve as inspiration for Microsoft. Seriously.

iPhone 3.0. The iPhone is really popular, and let's face it, it's awesome. iPhone 3.0, which I've been using since February, is a very minor update, and mostly adds things that should have been there in the first place. Biggest disappointment: Apple is adding tethering, but AT&T refuses to allow it. Hey, AT&T. F#$% you. Yeah. Really.

Apple needs to tone down the boring stuff. Look guys, here's another iPhone app. We get it. Move along, please.

iPhone 3G S. Was curious what they were going to call the iPhone 3, since the iPhone 3G was the iPhone 2.0. Now we know. Built in 7.2MBps HSDPA for data. New camera (finally). But same form factor. (Which makes sense, given the add-on market, but lacks a certain pizzazz.) I mean, where could they go with this, really? Anyway: Pricing is $199 (16 GB), $299 (32 GB). Surely there's an upgrade program for existing users. [Cricket chirps.]

Voice Control. (3GS only.) Apple copies Microsoft Sync, no one notices. And by the way, the notion of talking to a smart phone should be obvious. Just saying.

Best live keynote coverage. Engadget, hands down.

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