Video Drives Apple's Innovation

SAN FRANCISCO—As happened last year, Apple succeeded in turning heads just after the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). At last year’s event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone, which he reported at this year’s keynote on Tuesday is only second behind the Blackberry in terms of smartphone sales in the U.S. After being on the market for exactly 200 days, Apple has sold 4 million to date or 20,000 iPhones every day. From a national perspective, Apple’s iPhone in its first quarter of shipping stood at 19.5% of the total market, behind Research In Motion’s Blackberry at 39.0% but better than Palm, Motorola, and Nokia combined.

"We equaled these three in first 90 days of shipment," said an exuberant Jobs. "The numbers for the December quarter, when they are announced, look like they'll be even better."

About an hour prior to this year’s keynote at Macworld San Francisco (MWSF), though, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) fought back with a well-timed press release titled "2008 International CES Reigns as Global Stage for New Technology Innovation." But, as happened last year, Apple pushed aside the critics and released several key products that will drive the CES companies back to the drawing board.

The one that will get the most attention as a hardware gadget is a new ultra-thin Macbook laptop called Macbook Air. The product has impressive specifications (incredible thinness of .76" to .016" – 60% thinner than the next closest competitor, the Sony TZ series which is 1.2" to .8" thick – a 13.3" widescreen and a 45 nanometer Core 2 duo at 1.6Ghz standard or 1.8Ghz option). Apple asked Intel to shrink the Core 2 Duo by 60%, which Jobs said was the single most important innovation to allow Apple the ability to build Macbook Air. Of course, with H.264 as the primary codec in Apple’s arsenal and a move to HD content playback, Apple’s desire to put a Core 2 Duo in the Macbook Air was a strict requirement, as no single core processor would be able to consistently handle H.264 decoding of HD movies. The battery decision—Apple claims 5 hours of battery life on the new Macbook Air—is as much about being able to complete the viewing of a movie as it is about application productivity.

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