Jobs Makes Big Comeback Fronting Apple iPod Tweaks

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Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, with a new liver, made his first public appearance in almost a year, to announce iPod updates

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs – who has been given a new liver since the media last saw him nearly a year ago – got a three-minute standing ovation as he launched new iPods yesterday.

Jobs, wearing his usual jeans and black shirt, appeared thin and his voice sounded a bit weak, but he looked upbeat and energised as he introduced new features for the iPod and iTunes App Store.

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“I now have the liver of a kid, in his 20s, who died in a car crash, and was generous enough to donate [his] organs,” Jobs told a full-house audience at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts near the Moscone Center. “I wouldn’t be here if not for that generosity. I hope all of us can be that generous, and also become organ donors.”

As if the return of Jobs was not enough, rumours before the suggested that Apple would finally settle its dispute with the Beatles’ Apple Corps publishing company, and allow Beatles music to be sold on iTunes. Some rumours even said one or both of the remaining Beatles—Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr—might show up onstage.

As it turned out, the Beatles’s company chose yesterday — 9 September or 09-09-2009 — to release a new version of “Guitar Hero” and a boxed set of 13 remastered albums from the group’s heyday in the 1960s, so it would have been a stretch to also deliver an agreement with Apple the same day.

Instead, Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Norah Jones performed two numbers, her 2002 hit “Come Away With Me” and a new song entitled “Young Blood” that will be included on her new album “The Fall,” set for November release.

Jobs and chief Apple marketer Phil Schiller introduced some new features for iTunes and iPods, but they were incremental improvements without earth-shaking news status. UK prices follow, with the US prices announced yesterday in brackets.

A new iPod Nano — now available in nine colors — includes a built-in video camera, FM radio and even a voice recorder. It also features a larger (2.2-inch) color display. It is available in two versions: an 8GB model for £115 ($149) and a 16GB model for £135 ($179).

Schiller said the 8GB iPod Touch, has been marked down – in the UK, it now costs to £149 ($199). A new 32GB iPod Touch will go for £229 ($299), and a 64GB version will be £299 ($399).

The iTunes App Store has undergone a facelift, featuring a cleaner and easier-to-use Web layout. Key changes are music listing and sorting improvements to its Genius software, improved music-sharing options, and new access to accompanying videos, artist information and lyrics.

The iTunes 9 music-sharing feature, which Apple calls “Home Sharing,” allows users to drag a song or group of songs into the storage of one to five authorised computers within a household.

Jobs said new Apple ring tones would sell on iTunes in the same manner as song tracks.

Rumors about the demise of the iPod Classic also turned out to be incorrect. Schiller said Apple would increase the Classic’s capacity from 120GB to 160GB but maintain the $249 price.

Read our review of the new “Snow Leopard” Mac operating system’s productivity enhancements.

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