The Return of the King: Steve Jobs in San Francisco

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The man who’s famous for coming back from the dead has just come back from the dead. And no, he didn’t bring back a tablet with him.

Of course it was more fun to talk about the resurrection of Steve Jobs when you were talking metaphorically, about his coming back in triumph after the firing from Apple and the cratering of NeXT. Talking about his actual comeback from a potentially fatal disorder and a liver transplant just seems kinda creepy. So that’s about enough of that.


The new iPod Nanos. They play music.

The new iPod Nanos. They play music.

At any rate, he’s been back at work for a few months now, and now he’s back on stage — he just headlined a special event in San Francisco, which is what Apple calls its revival meetings/product launches. I couldn’t make it to this one, so I attended the way you did, through the liveblogs at Gizmodo (bedeviled though it was by server issues) and Engadget.


A skinny but otherwise hale Jobs — wisely, which is how he rolls — didn’t duck the issue. His opening sally:

“I’m very happy to be here today with you all. As some of you know about 5 months ago I had a liver transplant, so I now have the liver of a mid-20’s person who died in a car crash. I wouldn’t be here without such generosity. I hope all of us can be as generous and become organ donors.”

But throughout the presentation Jobs remained the main event. The announcements weren’t that exciting, and they were overshadowed by the months of rumors about an Apple tablet computer, of which there was no mention today. Jobs announced some big iPhone and iPod numbers (iTunes is the number one music retailer in the world? sorry, did I know that?) and updates to the iPhone OS and iTunes. (Personally I’m most interested in the way they revamped sharing of media between the various computers in your home. Our audio-video hivemind has a lot of gaps and asymmetries in it.) And there’s this thing called the iPod Touch? And it’s popular? And there are games for it? iPod Madden, w00t.

Oh, and it’s cheaper now. $199.

And they rebuilt the iPod Nano, so that it can shoot video. It’s also got an FM tuner in it, and a pedometer. And a voice recorder. And Norah Jones sang at the end.

Impressive, definitely. If these features take off, and once any manufacturing kinks are worked out, they’ll add them to the higher end of the product line. But today’s event was about incremental improvements and filling in the middle of the product line, not about pushing the edges.

Oh, and it was about having a healthy CEO. Welcome back.