Updated at 5:20 a.m. PDT with Phil Schiller keynote info.
When it was first announced that Steve Jobs was taking a leave of absence I was interviewed for an ABC affiliate about the prospects of Apple without Jobs. What would happen? Would he be missed? Was Apple vulnerable?
Sadly, I can't say that I came up with any earth-shattering sound bites. I said Apple would be fine in the short run; it had a roster full of talented executives, including a rock-star head designer (Jonathan Ive), and that the company's product road map was planned out into the future--presumably with Jobs' stamp of approval.
That said, no one could replace Steve Jobs, pitcher extraordinaire, a Sandy Koufax on the marketing mound, if there ever was one.
The fact is, no one can create a reality distortion field like Jobs. And ultimately, I said, that's what Apple would miss most, especially after Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, Phil Schiller, hadn't done much to inspire the faithful with his ho-hum keynote speech at MacWorld 2009.
However, little did I know that Jobs' absence would be felt so acutely in the release of the company's latest products, though I probably wouldn't categorize the new Mac Mini, updated iMacs, and third-generation iPod Shuffle as premium releases for Apple.
While the new releases may be a step up from Apple TV, which just hasn't been able to find a broad audience, they're not the iPod Nano or a new MacBook or iPhone OS 3.0. But what's a little disconcerting is how the products, particularly the Mac Mini and iPod Shuffle, landed with a bit a thud. Sure, they got a ton of publicity--and publicity is good--but a lot of it ranged from neutral to negative.
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