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Apple Hosts Huge Media Snooze Festival

Apple Inc. threw a party and shareholders got a headache Wednesday when the company introduced a slew of only slightly better stuff.

The stock tanked over 4 percent from the opening as Wall Street analysts worried that that the festival seemed to be all-show-and-no-go.

With a drum roll, the marketing geniuses at Apple flashed a huge sign introducing the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus as, “The only thing that’s changed is everything.”

The new iPhones’ supposed killer feature is called 3D Touch, which basically takes iPhones’ pressure-sensitivity and adds the buzzy feedback and finger vibration that mimic the Apple Watch, introduced in April.

Apple does claim the 6S series phones have a 70 percent faster chip, but last year’s iPhone 5S came with a very fast 64-bit chip. Unless you are trying to compete in live-streaming for smartphone on-line games, the value of this chip is marginal.

You do get “Live Photo,” which lets you take compressed video while you take a picture by just holding down on the button. But the Nokia Windows Phones had this for years, and nobody seemed to care.

Next up was what appeared to be a Microsoft Surface knock-off on steroids called the “iPad Pro.” But despite its 12.9-inch screen size and robust sticker prices–with stylus and keyboard, running $1,000 to $1,350–it only runs iOS and not desktop OS X. That means it cannot run many of the Mac “desktop” processes, such as Microsoft Office Spreadsheets and Photoshop.

The iPad Pro is rectangular and can run two apps on a split screen. It does have improved speakers compared to the poor quality audio on the iPad. Apple says its A9x chip is “desktop class” and is “faster than 80 percent of portable PCs shipped last year.” But this just means it is faster than the popular Kindle DX that sells for only $250.

With the crowd restless after all the glitz, glamour and modest product improvements, Apple brought back the drum roll and introduced its updated Apple TV by flashing with another huge sign blaring the obvious, “The future of TV is apps.”

CEO Tim Cook presented a fourth generation voice-activated Apple TV that now offers video games, shopping and travel tools in addition to the current streaming videos and music. The TV remote controller can now also be used as a video game controller, but the product price has more than doubled from $70 to $150.

Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times blogged, “The Siri demo on Apple TV reminds me very much of Amazon’s Echo, that little home-helper device. There’s no prescribed way of interacting with it; you just talk to it as you would a human.”

The Verge characterized the company’s introductions in June as, “Today, Apple’s WWDC was all about playing catch-up.” Four months later, Apple’s latest shindig seems to be again mostly about “catching up.”

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