We're currently soaking up the hustle and bustle at the Apple European launch, jostling for position outside the room where all the action will take place.
We're scheduled for a 6pm kick-off, so stick with us to find out all the Apple news, with rumours of a bigger iPod Touch and longer iPod nano reaching fever pitch...
The launch starts with hearty back-slapping, celebrating the success of the iPhone 3G and looking at its spread across Europe, reminiscing about iPods past and reminding everyone of the launch of movie downloads in the UK... Pascal Cagni, a fast-talking marketing man from Apple Europe seems like he's working against the clock somewhat...
The stats come thick and fast – in the first ¾ of this fiscal year Apple has seen a 45% growth on 2007... market share growth across the board in iPods and PCs, in all the key countries in Europe... basically, Apple is the Daddy, alright?
Time to give it up for the retailers now. It's not just the online stores, of which they now boast a presence in 16 countries and nine languages, when it comes to old-school, high street stores – there are now 17 in the UK, with a special mention for the most recently opened in High Cross Shopping Centre, Leicester (nice mention for them)...
We'll leave Apple waxing lyrical for now... after all, it's the products we're interested in.
Our first glimpse of the launch in San Francisco – this is what we're here to see – is a room full of journalists tapping away on laptops... The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is where "the magic will happen"...
Our first look at the copyright warning... and now it's Steve Jobs. We're off.
We start with 'the ubiquotous iTunes', now offering over 8.5 million songs, 125,000 podcasts, 30,000 TV shows, 2600 Hollywood movies and over 3000 apps for iPhone and iPod Touch... some 65 million iTunes accounts, too. It's the number one music distributor in the US...
New content... it's HD TV shows. The shows will be a dollar more, $2.99. Watch them on your computer or on Apple TV. NBC shows will be coming back too... so that's The Office (US version), Monk, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica... on SD and HD.
Unsurprisingly... we have a brand new iTunes 8, too. The main points are: HD TV shows, improved accessibility, 'browsing' and 'genius'.
Browsing = look at albums by cover picture, browse your library by the artwork. Same with movies and podcasts.
Genius = "It's pretty cool", says Steve. It allows you to pull together playlists of songs that "work together" with just one click. Listen to a song, press genius button, and a playlist is made for you (you can refresh as many times as you like). Naturally you will also get recommendations straight from the iTunes Store of similar songs. Info being swapped between your library and the iTunes Store – anonymously, of course, they say. Combining all iTunes users' info will allow Genius to get "smarter and smarter" at recommending tunes.
Steve Jobs gets on possibly the biggest Mac we've ever seen to inturn control the projected image of his desktop. We're basically watching Steve flick through his music collection in the new iTunes8. Which is alright, I guess. Quick HD clip of The Office – the US version. Not exactly telling us much about the quality. Still, the Genius button looks like a neat function.
Still playing around on his Mac, Steve Jobs has pulled out some Elvis... so a certain member of the What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision team will be happy... but we could do with ol' Jobsy moving on to something else now...
iPod has 73% of market share in US. Big slice of the pie. Over 5000 iPod accessories... 90% of US cars offer iPod integration. Cumulative iPod sales = 160 million. Cor.
And on to new products...
The iPod Classic. It's the end of the thick model. 80GB Classic goes up to 120GB for same price – "That's 30,000 songs in your pocket."
On to the nano... we whizz through the old generation, so we assume a new one is coming... sure enough we have a slimmer, longer, oval-shaped iPod nano. It has the same display – thinnest iPod ever made. Oval shaped unit, certainly pretty slim profile. Steve is a big fan... curved aluminium design, curved glass on display, enhanced user interface, accelerometer from iPhone, Genius function on the nano...
Long menus, more room for album artwork, can be turned sideways iPhone style... landscape mode.
Addition of a pop-up menu when in now playing mode...create a playlist, browse tracks etc as you listen... voice recorder added.
Oh look, Apple has done 'Shake to Shuffle'... simply shake the nano to skip tracks... we think we've seen this somewhere before...
24 hours battery life for music, four hours of video... on the slimmest iPod ever made. Did they mention the slim thing? We think so...
On to some obligatory environmental guff. The "cleanest, toxic-free iPods we've ever built".
On to colours and we have nano-chromatic... some new colours for nanos, and they certainly look bold and bright.
As for those all important prices... $149 for 8GB model, $199 for 16GB
"OUT NOW"... "BUY BUY BUY"... "CATCH THEM THIS WEEK"... says Steve Jobs.
Also new is a set of headphones, for $29, with a built-in remote control. Also, brand new iPod headphones to sell for $79 – "We think we've finally got it right," says Steve Jobs. At least he knows the freebie ones aren't much cop.
No time to breathe... it's on to the iPod Touch. New model. Same 3.5in display, but slimmer profile. What's different? Integrated volume control on side, built-in speaker (uh oh – coming to the back of a bus near you). The Genius playlist is on board, too.
36 hours of music and 6 hours of battery life.
$229 – 8GB
$299 – 16GB
$399 – 32GB
Hmm, so far a little underwhelming with the Touch. There have been little adjustments to the user interface, too... Nike and iPod software built-in, too – no need for the separate receiver, that you previously needed to connect to the nano... well, I use it, so that sounds good to me.
Lots of talk about the Apps Store, which is built in to theTouch... 100 million downloads so far in the 60 days it's been open.
More talk about Genius... though as Jobs makes live playlists, we start to question quite what connects U2 to Green Day to John Mayer... hey ho, we shall see.
And suddenly we have an Apple product manager playing the brand new game Spore on an iPod Touch. It's all happening. Real Soccer 2009 and Need For Speed will also be coming to the iPod Touch andiPhone... it's “the funnest iPod ever”. Perhaps the Nintendo DS has ruffled a few feathers...
We're still on the "funnest iPod ever", and there's new 2.1 iPodsoftware – you can upgrade your old Touch.
Also a 2.1 update for the iPhone, which should improve "lots of bugs", improve battery time and stop call drop-off... free from this Friday for all iPhone users.
Steve Jobs summing up... "We have the best family of iPods and iTunes ever, and we're ready for the holiday season."
And now we have to listen to Jack Johnson, so count yourselves lucky... he's the number one selling male artist on iTunes, don't you know...