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Bangkok Diary Thursday 2 September 2010: Apple Event - The Clouded View from Thailand (Updated)


While I was asleep, as expected, Steve Jobs made several announcements concerning Apple products. These were mainly in the field that is loosely iPod-related, but this is getting bigger all the time.

First up was an update to iOS bringing it to iOS4.1 which should be available within the next 7 days or so. This is not a surprise and does cover speed issues on the iPhone 3G as well as improvements to the camera (bracketing images for best exposure), as well as improvements to Bluetooth, WiFi and some bug fixes. There are also additional features that will not affect users in my area,like TV shows. The update also includes something called Game Center.

There is also a new iTunes which includes some special features that are only to be available in certain stores. The specific social networking service that has been added is called Ping (there is a Unix command with the same name) and this is available for the users in 23 countries, which I guess means those with an iTunes music store.

It was live by about 9:15 am (Thai time) today (2 Sep), either via Software Update, the update check within iTunes or on Apple's own iTunes page. A first look showed a new logo as well as a new greyish interface. Ping, the new social networking featuree is not shown, but this appears to be store-specific, so users in Thailand are out of luck here.

As expected, the iPod nano is redesigned into a square shape. The scroll-wheel is gone and the screen itself is the control: a touch-screen for the nano. The video camera and features of the previous version are gone: not enough space. The device also includes the Nike system, plus VoiceOver and a radio (FM).

Image Courtesy of Apple

This is shown in the online store for Thailand for 5,400 baht for the 8G and 6600 baht for the 16G. For the first time the pricing includes a note as to the extra included: VAT, duty and levies (618 baht for the 8G and 739 baht for the 16G). Converting the $129 to baht and adding on these extras, there is still a slight difference and local customers are paying about 200 baht more than their US counterparts.

The iPod shuffle was also included in the announcements and it is slightly smaller. This is also shown in the online store at a price of 2,000 baht for the sole version (2G). The US price is $49 and here we are just 33 baht down. The shuffle comes in 5 colours and could hold up to 15 hours of music.

Image Courtesy of Apple

The iPod touch -- always one of my favourite devices -- has been completely rethought and has some of the technology that found its way into the iPhone 4, including Retina Display, the A4 processor, the gyroscope and FaceTime. The last means, of course, that it has a front facing camera.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) has an article by Michael Rose on this in which he shows images from the FCC dissection of the device. The article also links to a selection of PDFs.

There are three versions of this: 8G (7,900 baht), 32G (10,400) and 64G (13,900). The price difference for the 8G version ($229 + taxes,etc.=7570 baht) again shows a few hundred baht higher here.

The device called Apple TV which no one is ever sure iof Apple has a real use for, at leat not yet, has had some significant changes, not the least of which concerns price: now $99. It is smaller and has wifi (802.11n), ethernet and an HDMI port, but now will be rental only for content, so Thai users can kiss goodbye to this. Needless to say it is not shown in the Thai online store.

As ever at an event like this there are some announcements for the future and included in these were an update to iOS4 (4.2) for the iPad, but not until November. That will be a free update for those of you that have this you will be pleased to hear.

I will update this when I can sift the small print and see if there are any other announcements lost in the rush, partlicularly those applicable to Thai users, for example the iPhone 4 arrival which must be coming soon, right?. Local carriers are still showing the iPhone 3Gs. True has a page for us to register interest in the iPhone 4, DTAC has nothing.

The announcements of the iPods and future software changes (iOS, iTunes) tell us that Apple is continuing its evolutionary approach to its products lines with here, an eye to Xmas and New Year sales of course, but also to future content, in terms of the shift to TV rentals for the Apple TV which, we note, disappeared from most retail outlets and the online store here a while back. As regards teh question of consolidation several commentators note that, despite rumours of its demise, the iPod Classic is still with us. Apple knows a good thing when it has it.

We can, of course, look forward to more. Better is another question.



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