Page last updated at 23:14 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 00:14 UK

Steve Jobs lights up Apple show

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

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Mr Jobs was greeted with cheers and applause when he took to the stage

Apple boss Steve Jobs stole the show at an event to launch new products as he took to the stage for the first time in nearly a year following medical leave.

Mr Jobs returned to work at the end of June after taking a six-month break to recover from a liver transplant.

After a long summer of speculation about what would roll off the Apple production line, the products took second billing to Mr Jobs' appearance.

"I'm vertical and I'm back," joked Mr Jobs at a press event in San Francisco.

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Maggie Shiels
BBC's technology reporter

As the audience rose to give him a standing ovation and cheer his return, the notoriously private Mr Jobs talked briefly about the operation he received at a hospital in Tennessee.

"As some of you may know, about five months ago I had a liver transplant," he told the crowd of press, analysts and invited guests.

"So I have the liver of a mid-20s person who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate their organs. I wouldn't be here without such generosity."

Dressed in his usual blue jeans and black turtle-neck, and looking perhaps a bit thinner than normal, the technology mogul urged everyone to follow suit and become organ donors.

'In charge'

Weeks before the company's event, dubbed "It's only rock 'n' roll and we like it", the rumour mill had gone into overdrive about whether or not Mr Jobs would attend.

The issue has been seen as a major distraction for the company.

Steve Jobs in front of iPod Nano
The product announcements were seen as a bit of a letdown by some

Many believed that this was one engagement Mr Jobs could not afford to miss given that the company's share price has risen and fallen in the past on reports of his health.

"Today it was all about Steve Jobs," Gene Munster, a senior analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co told the BBC.

"Users and investors of Apple adore Steve Jobs and the fact that he was here is really a statement that he is in charge and he is an active part of the company. That is the most important takeaway," said Mr Munster.

That was a view echoed by Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes.

"We believe it is positive that Jobs is healthy and enthusiastic enough to lead Apple, which is an important element of the short- and long-term investment cases for Apple," Mr Reitzes wrote in a research note to clients.

Although investors typically sell Apple stock after a launch event, he said the presentation should be seen as a "warm-up" for a "re-engaged Steve Jobs".

While Apple's shares have doubled in value since the start of the year, they fell 0.9% on the day to $171.41 (£105).

Prices lowered

Mr Jobs did not dwell on the issue of his own health for very long. Minutes after the show kicked off, the Apple boss got down to business.

The chief executive showcased a new iPod Nano with a built-in video camera, FM tuner and voice recorder ranging from £115 to £135 in the UK and $149-$179 in the US.

iPod Nano with camera
The new iPod Nano with video camera comes in a variety of colours

Mr Jobs called the Nano "the most popular music player in the world", with more than 100 million sold to date. The company revealed that as a whole, it has sold more than 220 million iPods and now commands 73.8% of the market, compared with Microsoft's 1.1%.

Apple also lowered the prices of existing iPods and introduced a new 32GB and 64GB iPod Touch that it promised would run faster than previous models.

Mr Jobs earlier turned the spotlight on a revamped iTunes program that includes app management, home sharing and the ability to buy lyrics, memorabilia and liner notes through an iTunes LP music feature.

"I think it's really cool, but iTunes LP isn't going to sell albums," said analyst Michael Gartenberg of Interpet.

"Good music will sell albums. Still, it's nice we are getting back some of the stuff we lost with the CD," he told Wired.com

Mr Jobs said that iTunes was now the world's number one music retailer with 100 million registered users.

'Disappointment'

At the end of the day, the products the company unveiled left some feeling underwhelmed.

"The common sentiment everyone always feels after an Apple press conference is a sense of delight at some of the cool things but also some disappointment that all of the wildly crazy rumours didn't come true," Dean Takahashi of Venturebeat.com told BBC News.

Norah Jones at Apple event09
The award-winning Norah Jones performed two songs at the event

"So that meant no Apple tablet and no Beatles heading to the iTunes store. I did think there were a couple of cool things like the iPod Nano camera. You almost expect them to come up with something more innovative but there was no big wow moment," said Mr Takahashi.

"It was kind of a non-event," Piper Jaffray's Mr Munster said.

"It was all about the iPod today and in terms of competition they are still running away with the show. Our biggest question is what is going to happen in the next six months. The Apple Tablet is what we want to hear about and it's going to address this mid-market as people look for portability with their computing.

"This is a niche they really need to address in the coming months," said Mr Munster.



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