Steve Jobs returns to rock and roll us

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Apple music event has just wrapped up! I'm on the record as having a hard time being enthused about new music offerings from Apple, but heck, it's a huge chunk of their revenue, so let's give them some love, shall we?

Perhaps the most exciting thing to note was just that Steve Jobs was once again in charge of the company's dog and pony show. He mentioned his liver transplant and gave a plug for organ donation, as well he should.

Then the event itself. It began with the introduction of iPhone 3.1, which was incremental rather than revolutionary. Intriguingly, the Genius functionality is now in the App Store -- it should be interesting to see where that leads. And 30,000 ringtones are available, sold at a "breakthrough price" of $1.29. Wait, are ringtones usually more than this? That ... that sounds like a lot to me. Does this mean the various workarounds for making a ringtone out of an ordinary sound file won't work anymore?

iTunes 9

Next, Jobs unveiled iTunes 9. I admit I'm a sucker, but what really got me kind of interested was the "Genius Mix" -- the Genius Playlist concept applied to a running flow that never ends. "It's like a great radio station," said Jobs -- take that, Pandora!

There's also improved syncing -- by artist and by genre, though not, apparently, by album. (I guess some of us will have to keep creating one-album playlists to get certain things synced.) And you can also manage your iPhone OS apps more effectively in iTunes, arranging your iPhone or iPod home screens right there on your computer. Will "iTunes" eventually become the wrong name for this software?

Home sharing has also been improved. Whereas before you could only stream music from one computer to another, now you can actually copy it, on up to five computers in your home. This is a much slicker implementation of the media-sharing that's already been available. I'm sure all of Apple's big media partners loved seeing the phrase "COPY MUSIC" in huge letters on the screen behind Jobs. Oh, and the iTunes Store has been redesigned to be "cleaner" -- we'll see how that works out.

The final big iTunes announcement is iTunes LP. If you buy certain albums, you get a whole host of extra content -- interviews, high-res art, liner notes, etc. -- of the sort that you used to get in those big LP sleeves back in the day. This has been rumored for a while as Apple and the music industry's way to get you to buy whole albums rather than the three songs you like.

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