John Paczkowski

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Jobs: Oh, One More Thing … I’m FINE

Laughing off recent concerns about his health, a skinny–but energetic–Steve Jobs uncrated Apple’s latest hardware and software offerings. Among them: iTunes 8 with HD, firmware updates for the iPod Touch and iPhone and a revamped line of iPods–including a new oval-shaped nano that is the thinnest iPod Apple has ever made. My liveblog below:

9:56 A.M. (PDT)
The Apple store is down in anticipation of today’s event–always a good sign at an Apple affair. Inside the theater, there’s little decoration aside from the white Apple logo onstage.

10:00 A.M.
Lights dim. And it’s showtime! Jobs takes the stage; not looking like he’s won any competitive eating contests lately, he offers up the obligatory “reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated” joke and then quickly moves on to the topic of the day: music.

10:02 A.M.
Jobs notes that there are now 65 million iTunes accounts with credit cards and that iTunes is the number one music distributor in the world.

“We’re adding something to iTunes today,” says Jobs. The first addition: HDTV shows. The second…wait for it: NBC is coming back to iTunes and bringing all its shows with them. And in HD.

10:10 A.M.
Jobs announces iTunes 8 and as expected, it includes HD support, an iPhoto-style browsing feature and the rumored “Genius” feature, which automatically creates playlists from songs in users’ iTunes libraries. Genius is an opt-in service. It collects media preferences from all participating iTunes users and algorithmically analyzes them to generate “Genius” playlists. The more you participate, the smarter Genius gets, says Jobs. It works with movies and TV too.

Jobs gives the audience a quick demonstration of the Genius feature and moves on to the iPod. He notes that the iPod has a 73.4 percent market share in the U.S. and that 90 percent of all cars in the U.S. offer iPod integration. Cumulative sales of the iPod since it was first announced are over 160 million.

10:15 A.M.
First iPod announcement: The 80GB iPod Classic has been upgraded to 120GB at the same $229 price point. Second: The new iPod nano–it’s the vertical device that’s been rumored. Very slick. “It’s the thinnest iPod we’ve ever made,” says Jobs. It’s got a new curved aluminum design, enhanced user interface, an accelerometer to put images into landscape mode, built-in Genius support, 24-hour battery life for music or four hours for video and a “shake-to-shuffle” feature that does what you’d expect. Jobs shakes his nano to demonstrate as it shuffles to a Dean Martin song. “Uh-oh. Now you guys know I listen to Dean Martin.”

10:24 A.M.
The new nano is apparently far more environmentally friendly than its predecessors. Jobs says it is the cleanest, most toxin-free iPod Apple has ever built. It comes in eight colors, in 8GB and 16GB models, and they’re shipping today.

10:30 A.M.
Jobs announces two new pairs of Apple headphones. The first features a robust cable controller that allows users to control volume, etc. The second is a better set of in-ear headphones. He quickly moves on to Apple’s new iPod Touch. It’s similar to its predecessor, but thinner, and features a better speaker, a better UI, Genius-support and built-in Nike+iPod support. It also features App Store–100 million apps have been downloaded from the App Store in the two months since it was launched.

10:39 A.M.
After a quick demo of the iPod Touch, Jobs invites Phil Shiller to the stage to demonstrate some new games. First up: “Spore Origins,” which truly looks just incredible. “My creature has eyes … but no brain,” says Schiller. The game uses the device’s accelerometer to steer spore creatures through the universe as they eat and get eaten.

10:43 A.M.
The next demo: Gameloft;s Real Soccer 2009. With an instant-replay feature, it seems pretty robust. Last up: EA’s “Need for Speed.” Also quite impressive from a graphics and game-play standpoint.

10:45 A.M.
Jobs returns to the stage and notes that the new iPod Touch’s environmental footprint is similar to the Nano’s. It’s got great battery life, App Store support, tons of games, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB models and starts shipping today,” he notes, adding that “we think it’s the funnest iPod ever” before introducing Apple’s newest iPod Touch commercial.

10:47 A.M.
Jobs announces iPod Touch 2.1 and iPhone 2.1. iPhone 2.1 resolves a number of issues that have been troubling the device. Reception issues, dropped calls, overlong backups–2.1 should remedy all these things. “iPhone 2.1 is a big update,” he says. “It fixes lots of bugs. You’ll get fewer call drops. You will get significantly improved battery life, for most customers. We have fixed a lot of bugs where if you have a lot of apps on the phone, you’re not going to get some of the crashes and other things that we’ve seen. Backing up to iTunes is dramatically faster. And so just a lot of bugs have been fixed.”

iPod Touch 2.1 available today. iPhone 2.1 available Friday. “This is our strongest iPod line-up ever,” says Jobs as he does at every event like this. He then welcome’s Jack Johnson to the stage.

10:57 A.M.
Jobs returns to the stage to thank Johnson. Seeing the two onstage together, it’s hard not to think about how thin Jobs looks next to the singer. He certainly seems healthy, though.

And … one more thing?

Apparently not. “Go out and buy some of these great products. Thanks for coming.” And that’s it. Time to download “Spore” for iPhone, I guess.

For the record, Apple (AAPL) is trading lower today, as of this writing.