∞ Apple met expectations and more at its September event

Expectations ran high before Apple’s annual music event in San Francisco, but trying to determine if the company met those expectations isn’t as easy as it seems. I spoke with a number of analysts to get their thoughts on Apple’s performance. According to the rumor mill before the event, Apple was going to introduce 99-cent TV show rentals, double the song sample length, launch a new Apple TV with Netflix support, and of course, release new iPods.

With the exception of increasing the length of song samples, Apple released all of the products and services that were expected, and went a little further. There were even several items talked about that weren’t expected.

Apple launched Ping, its social networking service for music that allows people to share their music reviews, likes, and suggestions with people that follow them. Apple could have integrated services like Twitter and Facebook into iTunes, but did it on their own for what one analyst believes to be about control and loyalty.

“Apple likes to be in control of everything, but it makes good sense,” Van Baker, vice president and research director for Gartner, told The Loop. “They want this to be a feature that builds loyalty around Apple.”

Apple took another big step with the Apple TV, removing the hard drive, reducing the size, and making it a streaming only device.

“Apple is not trying to be all things to all people,” said Tim Bajarin, President of Creative Strategies. “This is an introduction to streaming for consumers.”

Michael Gartenberg, a partner with Altimeter Group, agrees. “You can’t do everything in one go — Apple never does that.”

However, the new Apple TV may not put the device exactly where Apple wants it to be in the market, at least for now.

“Does it take the Apple TV to the mainstream? No. Is it better? Yes,” said Baker. “The $99 price will make it more appealing and it’s an improvement over the last generation.”

Perhaps the biggest announcements of the day were reserved for the iPod line. While some observers may have thought there is little Apple could do to improve on its market leading devices, the company totally revamped the line-up, drastically changing the iPod nano and strengthening the iPod touch.

The iPod touch has emerged as a strong competitor in the gaming market. Jobs said during his presentation on Wednesday that the touch is the No. 1 gaming platform in the world, outselling Nintendo and Sony offerings combined.

It’s no great surprise that Apple moved to solidify the touch’s dominance in that space, adding the Retina display and the A4 chip found in the iPhone 4.

“Mobile gaming isn’t just about casual games anymore,” said Gartenberg. “This is a serious gaming platform.”

With the introduction of a new iPod shuffle, nano, and touch, Apple has a device for every lifestyle and price point. With all the iPod news that was announced, one point caught the attention of all three analysts — the iPod touch is now Apple’s best selling iPod.

“I was impressed,” said Baker. “People say the market is done, but Apple doesn’t buy into that. They were able to move the sweet spot of iPods to the touch, which is their most expensive device.”

In addition to all of the major product announcements, Apple also showed off iOS 4.1 and iOS 4.2 for iPad, giving users a taste of what’s to come in the platform in the next few months.

Overall, the analysts agreed that Apple did everything they needed to do at Wednesday’s event to ensure the continued success of its current products, while taking steps to the future with devices like the Apple TV.

  • Daniel Swanson

    I agree. It was a good showing of Apple’s new products.

    The iPod Touch is going to be even greater seller with its new features. It was a very clever move for Apple to add Face Time to the Touch as well, significantly expanding its potential reach.

    We also like the new Apple TV, and we’re going to get one. We think TV rentals is a much more sensible approach, as we have no real desire to re-watch episodes we’ve already seen.

  • Jocca

    Totally in agreement with the above comment. This device will allow me to watch TV at my own pace and make my own choice of what I want to see which is not what the present cable model offers. I have no patience trying to tract down what station and what program to watch and I end up watching only two or three stations out of the 100 I now have on my subscription. I will get myself the Apple TV and go from there because I am seriously thinking about ditching Comcast. I have tried Direct TV, Dish TV and now Comcast and their offerings just do no cut it. They should offer clients and a la carte list of individual stations to choose instead of their silly packages. That model is terribly broken and I am about ready to ditch them in a heartbeat. Thank you Jobs for bringing the cost of Apple TV down to 99$ so that many more of us will feel more comfortable and try this new steaming offering from your company. It may be the new way of watching TV and know that I am going to pay according to what I am watching whereas now when I barely watch TV but pays a whole bundle every month to the cable company in subscription fee. That just do not make sense anymore.

  • macmanchgo

    Apple continues to innovate. If they didn’t set off negative reviews and alarms, then they wouldn’t be pushing the envelope. Jobs does his thing, then goes back to work. He is always five years ahead of the sheep.

  • Rahmouni67

    No comment