The most significant development to emerge from Apple's annual iPod conference yesterday was not the music player's new pedometer but the re-emergence of Steve Jobs, the closest thing America has to a celebrity CEO. With a new liver, Jobs stole the show from less impressive product debuts and upgrades. Later, tech and financial commentators debated whether the event was a success for the company or a non-starter.
  • 'The Return of the King,' trumpets Lev Grossman for Time. He noted Jobs' has a history of successfully rebounding, albeit career-wise: "Of course it was more fun to talk about the resurrection of Steve Jobs when you were talking metaphorically, about his coming back in triumph after the firing from Apple and the cratering of NeXT. Talking about his actual comeback from a potentially fatal disorder and a liver transplant just seems kinda creepy." Piling on the religious imagery, Sam Gustin of Daily Finance notes Jobs' ability to send crowds of techies into a "frenzy," by simply showing up. Finally, Erica Ogg of CNET agrees that the conference was indeed a chance for jobs to prove he's still the boss and quash rumors of a successor.
  • Weak Signal  Conceding that it was "good" to have Jobs back at the helm, Silicon Valley Insider's Dan Frommer is less generous when it comes to evaluating actual hardware and sales prospects. "If Apple can push out another update with a camera before the holidays, it could save face. But if this is it until 2010, then this is a big letdown." Tricia Duryee at Paid Content is more forgiving, contending that the "incremental upgrades" are actually designed to be more of a symbolic gesture than anything, showing that Apple is gearing up to take on competitors in the video camera market. Even so, she professes to be one of many generally underwhelmed by the affair. In a video analysis for the Financial Times, Chris Nuttall explains why the conference indicates that "Apple has work to do."
  • File Save  At Reuters Blogs, Gabriel Madway reminds readers that, this being Apple, new hardware is indeed worth a look: "Apple’s products announcements ... if not earth-shattering, weren’t exactly chopped liver either." Apple Insider Neil Hughes collects the opinions of Wall Street analysts who are all quite comfortable with the way the conference went, expecting that the company will prevail as the U.S. economy makes its own eagerly-awaited recovery. Finally,  the AP, via The Huffington Post, closes with a tech analyst asserting that Apple met "reasonable expectations" with its announcements, but that it was Job's presence that was truly instrumental in inspiring continued confidence from observers.