Macworld manages OK

The Macworld show opened in the US yesterday, and despite the absence of Apple's Steve Jobs, the opening keynote seemed to pass without a hitch

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Macworld manages OK (Getty Images)
By  Mark Sutton Published  January 7, 2009

The Macworld show opened in the US yesterday, and despite the absence of Apple's Steve Jobs, the opening keynote seemed to pass without a hitch.

As expected there were only a couple of major announcements, and minor upgrades to the upgrades to iWork and iLife applications, and the big news was not particularly geared towards Apple hardware junkies, but its interesting nonetheless.

Firstly was a new Macbook, which claims to be the thinnest and lightest 17 inch laptop available, and also packs a pretty fat battery - which Apple says will give 7-8 hours of operation.

The issue with this new Macbook is that the battery is built in, and, like the iPhone and Macbook Air, won't be user replaceable. While I haven't noticed too many people carrying spare batteries for laptops these days, the scramble for power outlets in airport lounges and meeting rooms to get that quick top-up seems more popular, but having the option to swap batteries is always useful. Apple claims that battery will have a five year life span, but in my experience virtuall y all devices have battery issues within 2 years top. Still, its more service revenue for Apple Stores to replace batteries...

The other big announcement, and this is possibly the most significant, is the decision to make music available through the iTunes store free of Digital Rights Management software. Tracks will be more expensive, but users will be able to share them across all of their devices without Apple's usual fussy controls. Not only that, but Apple has the backing of three major record lables - Universal, Sony BMG, and Warner - and will make 8 million tracks available DRM-free.

The battle over DRM controls spread into the PC gaming last year, with controversy over the game Spore and what many saw as restrictive controls, having a negative impact on sales. The game's publisher eventually put out a DRM-free version, such was the opposition to it.

There's no doubt that Apple is facing increased competition in the downloadable media market, but as this market expands into movies, TV and other media, its good to see that one of the market leaders is finally taking a more user-friendly approach to downloads.

As ever, the usual caveat applies - iTunes store isn't available in most of the Middle East.

(and commiserations to Alex Lee of Dubai who apparently went all the way to San Francisco on the off chance that Jobs might put in an appearance).

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