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Apple Unveils New Toys, But is it Slipping Behind?

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Guest blogger Bart Weiss is the artistic director of VideoFest and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

On Monday, Apple opened its world wide developers conference with its traditional keynote address. In years past, this show of the latest from Apple made front page news. This year, I didn’t see a single front-page story. Clearly, Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, is no rock star.

For starters, Cook doesn’t have that stage appeal. I think he knows it, too, which is why he just sets things up and lets the folks who did the work also do the demos.

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The new MacPro

Still, there were some really wonderful new technologies shown. For those of us in the professional film and video world, the most critical item was a new Mac Pro that will help with really computing intensive tasks. It’s a major redesign of what a major workstation can look and act like. I was impressed, but the major unknown is how much this will cost.

Leading up to this years’ event, there has been much discussion that Apple is no longer interested in the professional market. And who could blame them? The company sells more regular computers, which is a better business model. By launching the new Mac Pro, Apple has proved its commitment to professionals who need more than an iMac.

The two major software unveilings were new operating systems for the Mac and iPhone. Who knew that operating systems could be this fun?

When announcing the new Mac operating system, a slide appeared with recent versions, all named after cats: snow leopard, tiger, etc., culminating in mountain lion. Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said that with the new OS, the company thought it would try something different. Up popped a slide of a sea lion. It was an odd and wonderful moment – those assembled weren’t sure if the presentation was serious or if this was a joke. I don’t think Steve Jobs would have had the joke in the presentation.

The phone OS  is just iOS 7 (it’s hard to believe the iPhone has been out long enough to have had seven operating systems). There were jokes about how the apps don’t look like things in the real world – more about that here.

Again, I don’t think Jobs would have had those jokes in there. So clearly we are in the Post-jobs era. The innovation is still strong, the hardware and software rocks, and Apple fans are happy. I definitely want these new things soon (my birthday is coming up).

But part of me worries about Apple. It’s still making great products and innovating. But I think Google has accelerated its pace of innovation. Whether you are a Google fan or not, Google Glasses is a game changer in the way the iPhone was. And look at Google Voice vs. Siri, or Google Maps vs. Apple Maps.

Think of it this way: If you were a hot-short software engineer, would you like to work for Apple or Google? Not too long ago, that wasn’t even a question.

It is now.