I know it’s been a while since Wednesday’s event, but I wanted some time to reflect before committing my thoughts to bits. I’m certain that I was disappointed, what I’m not so sure of is why. Was it because my expectations were unrealistically high? Or was it because it truly was a below average performance from Apple? After two days of careful consideration I’m more inclined to believe it’s the latter than the former. Maybe it wasn’t below average, but it definitely wasn’t anything above average.

There was not a single earth-shattering revelation, and worse still, we didn’t even get what the most conservative pundits were expecting in many regards. The biggest let-down was the iPod Touch. Apple spent ages praising it, but did nothing of any note with it. It was almost like they were trying desperately to prove to us that we were silly to expect a new version. That, or they had something big planned that fell through, and they did their best to make lemonade from a lemon. Either way, we didn’t get the one thing I was most certain about, a real update to the iPod Touch. I was proven right about the retention of the classic though, which was nice (see my full predictions here).

I was also correct in predicting a new version of iTunes. It definitely has some nice features, some really nice features in fact, but it’s not the fundamental re-write I was expecting, and it didn’t live up to the rumours either. A link to advertise Apple products on FaceBook is not my idea of social networking! As for the talk of Blue Ray – nothing that spectacular was destined for this event unfortunately.

As usual we started with some numbers. To be honest, they all looked very good. Apple is beating the odds big-time in this recession. What ever else you can criticise them for, you can’t deny that their business model has really proven itself. The hawks who insisted that Apple had to give up on premium quality and join the race to the bottom have been shown to be blithering idiots – which I have to say I take no small pleasure from witnessing.

Also, I was moved by the new-found humility in Steve Jobs. It’s un-precedendted to hear Steve talk about his personal life like that. It was great to see him tackle his Liver transplant head-on, and better still to see him use the giant megaphone the media give him to encourage organ donation. Two big thumbs up for that. I already carried an organ donor card, but it was nice to be reminded why it’s important that all of us do.

As happy as I was to see Steve back on the Apple stage, I have to admit I was really taken aback by his almost skeletal appearance. That was bad enough, but it was the changes in his voice that really moved me. This is clearly a man who has aged a lot in the last year. I was forcefully reminded of a recent visit to my grandfather in hospital while he was recovering from a fairly serious operation. I’m glad to say he’s doing much better now, but that thin look, and that clearly weakened voice transported me straight back to that hospital in Belgium. Thankfully my Grandfather is continuing to gain weight and strength, and I hope the same will be true for Steve. I heard reports that he told the press he was feeling great and eating like mad – so that’s certainly encouraging.

But enough about Steve.

If the iPod Touch was a surprise in the bad way, the revamping of the Nana was our biggest surprise in the good way. I rubbished the idea of Apple adding a camera to the Nano repeatedly on IMP – I was flat-out wrong! And the didn;t just add a movie camera complete with a mic and speakers, they also added an FM Tuner (another total shocker), and even a pedometer. This was a really nice announcement, but not really worthy of a trade-mark “one more thing” though.

Regardless of whether or not it was worthy of being this year’s “one more thing”, it’s a great product, and for the first time ever, I’m actually tempted to buy an iPod Nano! I don’t have any sort of video recording device at all (apart from the web cam built into my MBP that is), so I’m interested in this just to have a video camera in my pocket. I like Audio books, and at the moment I use my old iPod Photo to hold all my audio books, while I use my iPhone for podcasts and music. My old iPod Photo is finally starting to die after years of use and abuse, and, when it finally dies, I’m pretty sure it will get replaced with one of these new Nanos.

Finally, I should probably devote a few electrons to the things I like about iTunes 9. The ability to organise your iPhone screens from within iTunes is a definite win. This is something uses have been clamouring for, and Apple have risen to the challenge magnificently. The home sharing feature could have been great, but I think I’ve spotted a flaw, and it’s a catastrophic one for me. You have to use an iTunes account to enable the sharing, and you can then only share with machines that enabled sharing with the same account. That’s NOT realistic in a home environment. We don’t have a single account. I have one, and my partner has one. We both enable each others accounts on our machines, so we can both play the music either of us buy in, but it looks like we’re not going to be able to share that music (or the many apps we buy) over Home Sharing. I really don’t think our situation is unusual. In fact, I think the idea that a household would have only one iTunes account is unusual. Poor show Apple – I think we have the typical home situation, and you don’t support it in your “home sharing” feature!

I do have some more praise though, FINALLY Apple have started marking partly-played podcasts as being partly played. Previously podcasts that you’d part-listened to showed up the same as those you’d fully listened to. This was horrifically bad design, and in many ways it’s shocking that it took Apple this long to get it right. Still, the important thing is that it’s fixed now!

The new iTunes look and feel is also going to take some getting used to. IMP contributor Connor Jackson likes to remind me that I called iTunes 8 “Emo iTunes” when it first came out because it had gone so dark. That’s all changed now. white is clearly the new black in Cupertino this autumn!