Despite this Macworld being Apple's last, despite Apple CEO Steve Jobs not delivering the keynote address, and despite efforts at a silent protest during the keynote, the show went on with great success. Apple had a lot to announce and Philip Schiller, vice president of worldwide product marketing, took his time on stage to announce new products and services.
One new product is a 17-inch MacBook Pro. The laptop features a new Nvidia chipset and is considered the world's lightest notebook at 6.6 pounds and the thinnest at .98 inches. The MacBook Pro comes with the same seamless aluminum case the company has used in its notebook computers, an LED display that supports 1920x1200 pixel resolution, and improved viewing angles.
One major change in the updated MacBook Pro is a battery that is expected to last eight hours on a single charge for the 9400 M and seven hours on the 9600 GT. It can be recharged 1,000 times instead of 200 to 300 times for other notebooks.
"A seventeen-inch Mac is not mainstream, but if you are in the market for that product, that's a nice upgrade for the features and value," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president of mobile strategy at Jupitermedia, who is at Macworld.
While Apple considers the new battery innovative, Gartenberg said it may be controversial because the battery is not removable. "This battery has a life span of five years, you will never have to replace the battery, you don't need to carry a battery, and still users who have grown accustomed to having a replaceable battery may not like the change," he said.
The battery may be a pain for some users, but others may like that it is environmentally friendly. Apple engineers developed a technology called Adaptive Charging to do this. A microchip on the battery continuously communicates with the computer to decide the best way to charge its cells. It then adjusts the current up and down depending on what is needed.
Apple had a surprise for its iPhone iPod users. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company announced it is offering high-quality music free of digital-rights management through its iTunes Store. The new service is called iTunes Plus.
Users can choose from millions of songs at iTunes Plus from four music labels and thousands of independent labels, according to Apple. Pricing will be based on what the four biggest music labels -- Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and EMI -- charge.
The price of older and less-popular songs will drop to 69 cents in April, while hit songs will sell for $1.29. Songs that are in moderate demand will remain at 99 cents. And most albums will remain at $9.99, according to the company.
Songs are now downloadable free of burn limits and digital-rights management. Users who already have an iTunes library full of music must pay a 30-cent upgrade per song, 60 cents for video upgrades, and entire albums can be upgraded for 30 percent of the album price.
Apple will immediately offer eight million songs without DRM and add the store's remaining two million songs by the end of the quarter, according to the company.
The news was a surprise to some observers, since Jobs had said the 99-cent pricing on iTunes was needed to make sense. Others, however, said the price change makes sense.
"If you think about it, it is not nearly as important for Apple to have this uniform pricing," said Gartenberg. "Universal pricing was easier for people to understand the concept, and now it is not nearly as important for Apple."
For iPhone and iPod users, "there is very little reason to buy music from anywhere other than Apple," he said.