My title for this commentary is a reversal of my slightly lacklustre review for Tiger during the year that still rates highly on the site, which I make some amends for later (I hope).
I've had a very sort of odd start to writing a review of the Mac year the past two years. When I sit back and think "OK, did much happen at all?”, the answer often feels like it should be "No". However, 2005 was in fact a very busy Mac year, but it just didn’t seem like it at times.
I guess spending so much time hurrying to get news up on the site, I forget to sit back and actually take stock of what did or didn't happen. First of though, I must give credit to some superb links that outline Apple news from the year...
After suggesting that the year was busy, 2005 has in fact been a little quiet for Mac users in New Zealand. There was no roadshows by Renaissance as we might expect and Peter Mellow has also had to delay his eXpo until this year. It has meant that for some, little has been heard from Apple in New Zealand and the usual "Why aren't Renaissance saying anything?? Are the really representing Apple?" discussions seem to reach their peak when we got an iTunes Music Store in this region, but only for Australia.
That event and the fact that Renaissance didn't (and in fact couldn't) give any indication as to when things might actually happen certainly meant for some, a feeling of isolation...both isolation towards Apple in the US and to their representatives in New Zealand. Silence isn't always a solution and even a "We can't tell you as we simply don't know ourselves" response through official press channels might have helped reduce our feeling of being left out....a little.
But let's not forget the work that Renaissance/Apple NZ did do this year, as it's simply not all about generic Mac roadshows. There's been the ongoing iSchool workshops for educators around the country (tinged with sadness in 2005 at the passing of Jim Ferguson), the NZ Schools Tour and the Play Music Seminar Series that have provided a more specific focus for a number of people with mac-related interests. So whilst we might say it all seems fairly quiet, it may just be we've missed out on generic activities whilst Renaissance focused on more specific groups.
The year began with a new iPod....and it wouldn't be the first new iPod model this year...in fact, there would be at least two more radical new models in the year! The iPod shuffle was the first iPod to use flash memory and received positive reviews.
Of course, this was at the MacWorld annual presentation by Steve Jobs and this year, everything was about "HD"...High Definition. iLife was updated but included iMovie HD and Final Cut Express was also packaged with an HD tagged to the new version. iWorks was introduced (I suspect we'll see a more useful version come out in a few days, as like Keynote, some v1 apps from Apple haven't been as impressive as they could be) and the interesting twist that was the Mac mini.
I was sold on the mini the moment it came out, although I never thought I'd buy one (still haven't). I could see that with how well the NZ dollar was performing, it would be a superb addition to anyone's stable and how it was perfectly targeted to PC users, especially those who might like to mix and match their setup a little.
But it's also done something that perhaps even Apple mightn't have expected...it's appealed to a lot of consumer Mac users.
Macs have and always will have the stigma of being costly, even when costs have dropped quite considerably over recent years. But many consumer also still don't like the fact that you're forced into an eMac/iMac choice that means one thing...your computer is going to be an all-in-one. The mini does away with that and even though your monitor, keyboard and mini purchase might all add up, people still like the fact that they get from feeling the freedom of being able to replace the mini at a later date, without having to replace everything else. I think Apple are onto a quiet, slow moving hit with the mini and they would be foolish to ever do away with it.
Of course, all eyes for early 2005 were on the release of Mac OS X Tiger which went on sale on April 29th, with New Zealanders the first to get hold of the new operating system. I was a little blaze about Tiger in my review but the operating system is a superb refinement, exceptionally stable and incredibly usable day in and day out.
Of course the mind numbingly amazing news that some had speculated and that all of us said "Nah, can't be true" to the rumours circulating was Apple announcing a move to the Intel chip
...but like the move to PPC before it (and let's quietly forget the days of Copland/Rhapsody confusion) the intentions have been well broadcast, documented and for the most part, well received. Indeed if speculation is right, the next few weeks might see the first of the Intel-based Macs appear.
September 7 saw the second of the new iPod models appear, the iPod nano and to me, it's the Mac mini of the iPod world...small, cool, practical and something that Apple perhaps weren't expecting to be as popular as it has become. If someone didn't know what an iPod was in the middle of the year, they sure as heck do by now.
And then on October 12 just a month after an entirely new type of iPod was unveiled, umm....an entirely new type of iPod was unveiled, an iPod with video. Steve Jobs had seemingly changed his mind from the stance of iPod users never needing or wanting video to not only trumpeting Apple's new device, but selling some of the most mainstream TV shows to watch on them a day after they have aired in the States for an incredible $1.99 USD. Wow!
New iMacs came out with inbuilt iSight cameras and piece of software called FrontRow that not only does every Mac user feel they should be given, but one I suspect might be added into the iLife bundle in the next few days.
The significance of FrontRow was far more than the simplicity of the software. Here was a Mac that came with a remote. Here was a Mac that not only worked and looked cool, but one that Apple was promoting as being at the heart of your entertainment world, although "digital lifestyle" sits better with Apple. If you can't see and feel the mild winds of change at Apple as they pump out video iPods and FrontRow applications, you're not paying close enough attention.
And then, on to that fateful day that New Zealand Mac users held their breath with anticipation. No, not the launch of a redesigned NZMac.com, but the launch of an iTunes Music Store in Australia
that for a moment, we thought was ours too. We may not like being bundled up with Australia and considered part of them in the world view, but for once we wanted to...just for a moment...even if it just meant we could buy some digital music legally from Apple.
On the NZMac.com front it has been a pleasing year. I've had incredible support from companies like Speck Products...a company who even though they had no direct sales avenue in NZ, swamped me with iPod cases to give away to site users. Other companies also provided products to give away and users embraced the community concept by contributing articles to the site.
The site saw a tidy up this year that has gone down well and I'm very pleased that when the content management system Mambo (that I use to run the site) had an upheaval this year, I made the right decision to go with the development team of Joomla, the spin off to Mambo. I've purchased commercial components for the site this year and managed to get some advertisers on to the site (thank you!) also, meaning less red in the bank statement.
During the year it was suggested quietly by one user that I perhaps sell t-shirts locally as opposed to the failed US-based store I had tried, but it's the financial outlay of doing a significant batch of t-shirts in order to sell them that I really can't risk financially. Once again, I'm not going to ask for donations to the site, but I certainly am going to plead for ongoing contributions....of the written kind!
The end of 2005 saw a great bursts of contributions as the year drew to an end and I'm hoping that this generosity might continue into the New Year. In fact, why not make it your New Years resolution why don't you?
"I'm going to write one...maybe even more...reviews or articles for publishing on NZMac.com"
...go on...it'll make you feel better and one article isn't too much is it?
And after an incredibly long summary of 2005, I'm going to sign off and get back to some other NZMac.com work by answering a quick question Miraz Jordan asked via email (hope it's OK to publish this Miraz!) that I found amusing....
Q: "Do you never rest?"
A: "Just in the wee small hours!"
Best wishes to everyone for 2006 and thank you for your continued support.