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Apple Intros 17" Unibody MBP, DRM-Free iTunes 1079

Posted by kdawson
from the life-after-jobs dept.
Phil Schiller delivered the keynote at MacWorld, the first after the Steve Jobs era of keynotes. Here is Engadget's live blog. The big news, predicted by many rumor sites, was the introduction of the unibody 17" MacBook Pro. As rumored, the battery is not removable, but it's claimed to provide 8 hours of battery life (7 hours with the discrete graphics): "3x the charges and lifespan of the industry standard." $2,799, 2.66 GHz and 4 GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, shipping at the end of January. There is a battery exchange program, and there is an option for a matte display. The other big news is that iTunes is going DRM-free: 8M songs today, all 10+M by the end of March. Song pricing will be flexible, as the studios have been demanding; the lowest song price is $0.69. Apple also introduced the beta of a Google Docs-like service, iWork.com.
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Apple Intros 17" Unibody MBP, DRM-Free iTunes

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  • by GeneralTao (21677) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @02:56PM (#26346225) Homepage

    I was really hoping to see an updated Mac Mini.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by terrapin44 (736939)
      Yea, I wanted a new mini. DRM-free music is nice though.
      • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:04PM (#26347647) Homepage

        All my music is DRM-free, that's how I was able to get it :D

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:31PM (#26350101) Journal

        I personally think Apple is really missing an opportunity on the desktop front that could hurt them in the long run. Vista is pretty much a dud, with many of the public staying away in droves. IMHO this would be a perfect opportunity to grab some market share while still keeping the high profits they enjoy on the laptop front. The problem with the mini IMHO is the lack of expansion, and they seem to have a hole in their product line between the mini and the Mac Pro, which is why we have been seeing these hackintoshes show up.

        IMHO they could really pick up some of the customers avoiding Vista if they would release a Mac Mini with say, 1 PCI and 1 PCIe expansion slot, and maybe followed by a "Mini Pro Tower" that added a couple more PCIe slots and a little faster CPU. Because frankly the Mac Pro is simply overkill for the home users but not having any way to upgrade and using more expensive laptop parts makes that Mini not as attractive to the home market. By releasing the above desktop models now, before Win7 comes out, this would not only IMO give them a good chance to snatch up some of the unhappy Vista customers, but by giving them a decent affordable desktop they could give them a chance to experience OSX and drive future sales to their more profitable laptop lines because the new users will be familiar with OSX and be more inclined to buy Apple laptops.

        But if they wait too long and Win7 turns out to actually be good they will have missed a golden opportunity IMHO. Then again Jobs has always come off as a little elitist to me so maybe he simply doesn't want to convert those unwashed Windows masses to OSX. After all he is already making money hand over fist, perhaps he has decided that he likes OSX right where it is at currently?

        • by moosesocks (264553) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @10:02PM (#26352339) Homepage

          What the heck do you use PCI cards for these days anyway?

          This isn't a flame/troll. I'm genuinely curious --- what functionality can be provided by a PCI(e) card that can't also be provided via USB or Firewire?

          "Expensive laptop parts" doesn't really apply to the Mini. The price premium for USB devices over their internal equivalent is down to a bare minimum. SO-DIMM memory barely costs more than a full-sized DIMM, and replacing the 2.5" hard drive is largely irrelevant, given that you can just as easily add an external device if you really want more storage. Chipsets and CPU sockets change so frequently that you probably also wouldn't be interested in changing the CPU in any machine.

          Graphics is the only thing that immediately comes to mind, and there are other ways to accommodate that scenario (socketed GPUs, or ignoring the problem entirely since macs don't really "do" games). I have a Mac Mini, and this is pretty much my only complaint.

          Your last point also stands out particularly well. The average person doesn't care about expandability. The average laptop is barely expandable at all (I do have to penalize Apple here for making their laptops unnecessarily difficult to service), yet we see laptop sales dominating the "home user" segment of the market. Apple seems to have hit the "sweet spot" of price and features with the Macbook, which is the only logical explanation for why the things sell so well.

          • by snuf23 (182335) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @10:51PM (#26352799)

            "ignoring the problem entirely since macs don't really "do" games"

            Unfortunately, I do games. So do a lot of other Mac users. Recently with the World of Warcraft expansion a lot of Mac users had to turn down their graphic levels to play the game acceptably. This is on fairly recent machines such as the previous generation Macbook Pros and iMacs. Sadly there is no upgrade path aside from getting a new Mac. I guess ultimately that benefits Apple.
            I switched back to using my 2 year old PC because the performance was better with a more powerful video card.

          • by jrumney (197329) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @01:27AM (#26354115) Homepage

            What the heck do you use PCI cards for these days anyway?

            Wife acceptance. My wife is much more willing to accept a media centre PC if it is contained within a single box that fits nicely (physically and visually) into the hifi/video equipment stack. Having half a dozen cables coming out of it to various external USB boxes is likely to get it banished to the basement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ngarrang (1023425)

      They are getting rid of the DRM. Only one wish at a time granted, buddy!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by goombah99 (560566)

        Just checked it out. The prices of DRM free 256 Kb AAC are the same as 128kb DRM aac. so better quality and no drm and same price.

        why are they still offering the DRM version??

        perhaps there are some caveats. One assumes you are not supposed to give the un DRM versions out for free. but what about using them on more of your computers. perhaps the sale agreement has you agree not to use it on more than one computer at a time? even though nothing technical prevents you from violating the legal contract? O

      • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:42PM (#26347187) Homepage Journal

        Yes, but does iTunes run on Linux yet?

        *ducking*

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @02:57PM (#26346241) Homepage Journal

    What are people going to whine about now?

    • Re:So,no more DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by k_187 (61692) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @02:58PM (#26346253) Journal
      Tiered Pricing.
      • Re:So,no more DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

        by larry bagina (561269) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:02PM (#26346357) Journal
        Yeah... but those people who claimed $0.99 was too expensive and songs shouldn't cost more than $0.70 will need a new excuse.
    • Re:So,no more DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Weeksauce (1410753) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:01PM (#26346325)
      If people hadn't wined, would they still have done it?
    • Re:So,no more DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:11PM (#26346563) Homepage

      It's great to see competition in the market for DRM-free music. Until now, the only DRM-free option with a comprehensive catalog was Amazon. I've been using Amazon for a while, and there are definitely some significant pros and cons:

      1. Con: You can't use it if you're outside the U.S.
      2. Pro: I find it much easier to use than iTunes. YMMV.
      3. Con: The only format is MP3, no option for less lossy formats.
      4. Con: Although I was able to help my daughter figure out how to buy MP3s on Amazon via her Linux box and put them on her iPod, it was a real pain.
      5. Unfortunately Amazon makes you use special software if you want to download an entire album at the album price (which is cheaper than buying the individual tracks). But fortunately they explicitly support Linux. But unfortunately their Linux support sucks, and if you call with a problem, you get a tech support person in India who insists that Amazon's own web page lies, and there's no support for any browser other than IE. But fortunately there's third-party software called clamz that works better than the software Amazon supplies.

      It will be interesting to see if the advent of competition encourages both Apple and Amazon to improve.

  • by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) * on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:00PM (#26346291) Journal

    3x the charges and lifespan of the industry standard

    This is a completely unfalsifiable statement. A Mac user wouldn't be caught dead with this model once the new 17.1" Macbook Pro comes out in six months. No one really knows how long any Apple product "could" last.

  • Battery?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Helios1182 (629010) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:00PM (#26346303)

    Come on, it isn't that hard to make a user removeable battery. Just do it -- people want it. It is a freaking laptop!

    • Re:Battery?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by internerdj (1319281) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:05PM (#26346419)
      Sorry this is an Apple article. Apple not only gives the consumers what they want but the list of what they are supposed to be wanting in the first place.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by qw0ntum (831414)
      One less button.
    • Re:Battery?! (Score:5, Informative)

      by GoCal92 (695108) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:07PM (#26346489)
      Of course they could do a removable battery. The point they made in the keynote was that a removable battery takes up a bunch of space. By making the battery non-removable, they gained 40% more room for a bigger, longer-lasting battery. The design trade off here was removable battery for more battery life. The market will decide whether that was a good trade.
    • Re:Battery?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by seanadams.com (463190) * on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:09PM (#26346535) Homepage

      Come on, it isn't that hard to make a user removeable battery. Just do it -- people want it. It is a freaking laptop!

      I recall people complaining a lot louder when they lost their floppy drives, LPT ports, RS232, ADB/PS2, etc. Nobody's stopping you from keeping your old laptop, getting one on ebay etc.

      I have the previous gen 17" MBP and have never needed to remove the battery except to upgrade RAM/HD. I'd happily trade the feature in exchange for more internal charge capacity.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:11PM (#26346557)

      One is that you do save some space by integrating the battery. There is a non trivial amount of extra material for making it removable since it had to be in it's own enclosure and such. So one could claim that is was done to either decrease size, or to increase capacity (by having larger cells).

      The other is that this makes the device much more disposable. Apple is in the hardware market, they make their money on buying new gadgets. It would be best for them if people viewed the gadgets as disposable and simply tossed them after a few years.

    • Re:Battery?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tgd (2822) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:17PM (#26346693)

      If it makes the laptop smaller and lighter, some poeple (myself included) happily will give up a replaceable battery.

      Thinking back over the last 15 years for the seven or eight laptops I've owned (two Mac, the rest various brands of Linux/Windows laptops) I've bought a new battery I believe twice, both as replacements not secondary batteries.

      I've never carried two at a time so I could swap one when it was dead.

      Apple isn't a stupid company. They wouldn't make that change if they didn't believe that loud-mouth-whiners-aside, it would impact sales in the least.

      Case in point -- they dropped Firewire from the MacBook. That means you can't use your family's DV or HDV camcorder anymore with a MacBook to use the new iMovie to edit your videos... and yet sales took off of the new laptop. That feature excluded that laptop from my consideration, but the fact that I don't like it doesn't mean it wasn't the right decision for them.

      Just because you don't like a fixed battery doesn't mean "people want it" or it was a bad decision.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If you want a removable battery, then don't buy an apple. Buy a Dell, since they have that nifty system where you can plug a battery in to the drive bay giving you two batteries. That also means you can have a big stack of batteries and you can keep on hot-swapping them all day long, since you can hot-swap either of the batteries without losing power.

      I suspect other manufacturers so this too.

  • by Dzimas (547818) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:01PM (#26346323)
    I'm glad to see Apple stepping away from a massive release of new products every January. While it was exciting from a geek perspective, it was awfully timed. Introducing a slate of cool new gadgets just after Christmas was a marketing nightmare for Apple - hundreds of thousands of new iPod owners would be upset to learn that their new player was suddenly "last year's model," and many other Apple enthusiasts would simply put off their purchases until after the Christmas season in anticipation of "one more thing" in January. That can't have been good news for retailers who ramp up inventory in the months leading up to xmas. Now, Apple has more control over their release cycle. They can keep their products under wrap until they're ready to unveil them to the world, and can stagger releases for maximum coverage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MtViewGuy (197597)

      In fact, all the important announcements will come direct from Apple PR events, probably on this new schedule:

      April for new Mac Pros and iMacs
      June for new iPhones (during WWDC)
      September for new iPods
      October for new MacBooks

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:02PM (#26346349) Homepage

    It is extremely important that Slashdot apprise us of every new product coming from Apple Corporation, in near-realtime fashion.

    Please slashdot, tell us more about Steve Jobs' health, Apple Corporation mythology, and Mac purchasing opportunities!

    • by DigitalisAkujin (846133) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:12PM (#26346583) Homepage

      It is extremely important that Slashdot apprise us of every new product coming from Apple Corporation, in near-realtime fashion.

      Please slashdot, tell us more about Steve Jobs' health, Apple Corporation mythology, and Mac purchasing opportunities!

      Usually I'd agree with you but this news about DRM is pretty important because it completely changes the dynamic of the music industry in relation to the Internet considering iTunes recently surpassed Walmart in music sales. That is clearly stuff that matters and if you can't see that you're geek license should be revoked on your way out.

  • 17" Macbook (Score:3, Insightful)

    by manekineko2 (1052430) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:02PM (#26346355)

    I simply cannot fathom why Apple keeps making these things without a number pad. If I'm going to lug around the weight of a 17" I feel like a proper keyboard with keypad is a must, especially since almost all of the other brands have no trouble fitting one in.

    The weight on this thing is mighty impressive though, I'm not familiar with any 17" laptop that is only 6.6 lbs. Of course, I'm not sure if it's worth the trade-off of not having a removable battery.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:03PM (#26346369)

    Should have better video then 9600m for a $2700+ system come on other laptops have SLI at that price.

    And $1200 to go from 4gb to 8gb?

    I hope apple has a big Superbowl ad to show off the other new hardware.

  • You know, its pretty fashionable to argue these days that CEOs are just like everyone else, interchangeable parts that you can just get rid of. Steve Jobs isn't one of them, and I don't think Bill Gates was either, for that matter.

    But, in the case of Steve Jobs, the dude could walk out onto a stage, show you a product, and you would think, wow, that's really brilliant.

    Regardless of how Shiller is, he's not the guy that founded Apple, beat developers into the ground trying to make a product better. Sometimes took the company into the ground chasing after a vision but a lot of times made a mountain of money chasing after the same.

    You can't get the same vision from somebody who runs as a company as you can get from the guy that founded it. Even for CEOs, its just a job, but for founders, its a vision, and I'm going to miss the Apple of Jobs old, even as I miss the Microsoft of Gates the Evil.

  • So....what about TV? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darth_brooks (180756) * <clipper377@gm3.1415926ail.com minus pi> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:04PM (#26346397) Homepage

    Two semi-glaring points:

    -What about TV show and movie purchases? What level of DRM can be expected there (I don't know level of DRM applies now, so feel free to call me a clod who's talking out of an orifice other than stdout ). The verbiage seems to very carefully mention "songs" only, no other iTunes available media.

    -What about my current iTunes song library? Will the DRM magically disappear with my next update? Do I need to download my library again, (and thereby lose the totally pointless play count next to my songs? What will I do? That's how I keep score damnit!)

  • by thesolo (131008) * <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:05PM (#26346435) Homepage
    Great news about the music going DRM-free, but what about the rest of the iTunes store? It seems from this announcement that DRM will still be applicable on audiobooks, films, and TV shows, which is lousy.

    Still, it's a step in the right direction, and I applaud the people over at Amazon (and everyone else selling music without DRM) for doing it first. Without that step, I'm willing to bet that Apple would have stayed with DRM on their music catalog. It looks like part of Defective By Design's Anti-DRM wishlist [defectivebydesign.org] came true.

    That said, Apple is also now charging if you want to get rid of your DRM (which means upgrading to 256 kbps tracks). From Apple.com:

    You don't have to buy the song or album again. Just pay the 30 cents per song upgrade price. (Music video upgrades are 60 cents and entire albums can be upgraded for 30 percent of the album price.)

    Yes, just $0.30 per song to get rid of the crap that we forced on you in the first place. Awful.

    In other news, I was getting my updates from MacRumorsLive.com, when their feed was cracked by 4Chan. The site crashed half-way through the keynote. Here are some screen caps for anyone interested:
    http://www.realfx.com/images/macrumorslive_pwned.jpg [realfx.com]
    http://www.realfx.com/images/macrumorslive_pwned2.jpg [realfx.com]
    http://www.realfx.com/images/macrumorslive_pwned3.jpg [realfx.com]

  • Removable Battery (Score:3, Interesting)

    by localman (111171) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:06PM (#26346467) Homepage

    I was drooling over the new 17" until I got to the non-removable battery part. On long trips I've always loved the ability to swap through multiple batteries. 8 hours (which surely means 6 real world hours) is very good, but it still falls short of two or three swaps. Probably not something most people care about, so perhaps a good business decision... but I'll be holding on to my old 17" until it croaks, I guess.

    • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:26PM (#26346863) Homepage Journal

      My Libretto was rated for 8 hours with the fat battery pack, but I never got more than 5-6 hours. That was still enough to keep me from having to join the tethered geeks near the wall at conferences, but only because I had two batteries and could leave one charging in my room... then swap it out at the lunch break and before the evening sessions.

      Not to mention that you don't want to risk a non-removable "iBattery" turning into something like this [flickr.com] like my original Macbook Pro's did.

  • by Speare (84249) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:11PM (#26346575) Homepage Journal

    I am not particularly concerned with the general idea of a non-removable battery. I know that by removing the extra two walls internally, they fit a bit more charge-storing mass inside the slim case. I know that the life span of this new material is able to hold more Amp-hours, which is welcome.

    What concerns me is the "stays plugged in" case. Many people with this class of laptop leave the thing plugged in most of the time, but need the ability to untether just often enough to go on the road. I have had bad luck with batteries in the past, even with the best "smart charge" electronics, where the battery loses its peak capacity if it's left plugged into the DC wallwart 98% of the time. I don't discover the problem, of course, until just when I open the laptop in the airport, waiting for my departure flight.

    • by Altus (1034) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:24PM (#26346823) Homepage

      I have seen this same problem as well, but its worht noting that the current batch of MacBook Pros apparently require the battery to be in place even if they are plugged into the wall because they cant pull enough power through the wall wart for peak performance and need the battery there for when power demands go up.

      So while you do have a good point its quite possible that, even if the battery were removable, you wouldn't be able to operate without it.

  • by Petersko (564140) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:13PM (#26346623)
    If you want to upgrade your old purchases to DRM-free status, though, you can pay the "upgrade" price [apple.com].

    I bought three albums on iTunes this past weekend. At least one of them is DRM-laden. Colour me unimpressed, but I'm not really surprised. I don't have rose-coloured glasses on when it comes to Apple. I sometimes use iTunes when it's 3:00 a.m. and I'm hankering for new music. I fire up the Bands Under the Radar podcast and poke around until something catches my fancy. They made it convenient, so I put up with the conversion process to other drm-free formats.

    "It's also easy to upgrade your iTunes library to iTunes Plus. You don't have to buy the song or album again. Just pay the 30 per song upgrade price. (Music video upgrades are 60 and entire albums can be upgraded for 30 percent of the album price.)"
  • Still too high (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:17PM (#26346701) Homepage Journal

    the lowest song price is $0.69

    Still forty cents too high. Back when a single came on vinyl and cost a dollar, the manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, etc. gave them maybe a dime profit at most. Now they want a buck with no manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, or any other costs except profit.

    Actually producing and recording the sucker was incredibly exoensive back then too. It's dirt cheap these days, but we're still paying the same inflated prices (well, not "we", I stopped buying RIAA drack back when Napster was illegal).

    I blame cocaine, the shit makes people greedy. The labels' own greed is causing their downfall.

  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:36PM (#26347085)

    I'm all for tiered pricing schemes. Britney's "Womanizer" crap can sell for $1.29 all day long while I'm buying non-crap for $.69 and $.99

    The WORST thing about the iTunes store is the Top-10 seller lists. I haven't seen a track on there in years that I'd buy. And since those will be the target of $1.29 tracks, good for them for bilking people with horrible musical tastes.

  • Turly DRM Free? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:48PM (#26347319)
    Sure the tracks are going DRM free, but will iTunes still prevent me from copying music from my iPod to a new iTunes library? It's incredibly annoying to me that any time I move PCs or operating systems that I can't easily move songs off of my iPod. The tracks may be DRM free all the way through, but it still exists if I can't move my library as I see fit.
  • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:45PM (#26349427) Homepage Journal

    While the music itself is now DRM-free, it is still inaccessible to non Windows/Mac users. I realize that we Linux-only households are few and far between, but as a cross-platform version of iTunes already exists, why not make a version for Linux too?

    While they're at it, could they just move the store entirely to the web, and let me access it with a normal browser since I don't need to 'activate' the downloaded music at all anymore?

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