Lights! Camera! Lit Support!
Apple may be missing the boat on a potential legal market.
By Monica Bay
NEVER MIND that Apple Computer Corp. posted a $247 million loss for its first fiscal quarter (compared to a year ago, when it earned $183 million), according to The New York Times. That didn't deter the faithful from mobbing San Francisco's Moscone Center last month for the annual Macworld SF convention, where the always- charismatic Steve Jobs offered his annual keynote monologue -- and introduced a basket full of new products that he hopes will swing things around.
Macworld 2001 Debuts: Fast & Sexy
Apple's new inch-thick Titanium PowerBook G4 weighs in at 5.3 pounds, encased in a titanium metal body. It offers a PowerPC G4 processor, running up to 500 MHz. The display measures 15.2 inches.
Other features: a slot-loading DVD-ROM drive; built-in 10/100 Ethernet; USB; FireWire; VGA and S-video output; a 56K V.90 modem; built-in slot for the AirPort Card and two built-in antennas for communications with the AirPort base station. Battery life is up to five hours, using a Lithium-ion battery.
Reader Response no. 309.
Power Mac G4: The new desktop is available in four models, ranging from 466 MHz to 733MHz.
The high-end edition offers a new DVD-R/CD-RW "SuperDrive." The G4s all include iMovie video editing software. The SuperDrive edition also includes new iDVD software, that creates DVDs that can be played back on consumer DVD players, says Apple.
Reader Response no. 310.
iTunes: Apple's new software helps users import songs from their music CDs and then compress them into the MP3 format.
Users can create play lists for music organization; can burn their own music CDs; and listen to radio stations via the Internet. The software works in conjunction with the CD-RW drive that comes with the new Power Mac G4.
Reader Response no. 311.
Among them: 1) a one-inch thick Titanium G4 PowerBook laptop that he says is even "sexier" (and better performing) than the wildly popular Sony Vaio; 2) a 733 MHz Power Mac G4 desktop with a "SuperDrive" that can burn DVDs (and, he insists -- and demo'd -- burns rubber over the new Pentium 4 chip); 3) new iTunes software to simplify music collections; and 4) an upgrade of Apple's professional digital editing software, DVD Studio Pro. Jobs also announced that the long-awaited, fluid UNIX-sympatico new operating system, OS X, will ship on March 24, and begin to be bundled with machines next summer.
After the 90-minute speech, we pondered the obvious question: What does this have to do with legal? After all, Apple has all but abandoned any efforts to target the legal market, despite its claims that it owns about 9 percent of the small firm crowd.
In his talk, he seemed to emphasize Apple's increasing role in digital photography and video, showing how consumers can easily create iMovies, and with the new desktop SuperDrive, burn them onto CDs -- and even DVDs -- at lightening fast speed.In the past, reproduction typically took about 24x, so it would take a day to copy an hour of video. But the new equipment can burn at a 2x rate -- this means a half-hour tape can be dup'd in an hour.)
That's when we all had a Helen Keller moment. There's one application that seems an absolute natural for Apple: litigation support.
In my past life, I was (albeit briefly) a plaintiffs' personal injury lawyer at a San Francisco law firm that handled plane and car crash cases, among other causes of action. As a bambino attorney, I handled grunt work, including helping with the creation of court exhibits. If I had then owned a set of Apple tools (the SuperDrive G4, a camcorder and/or digital camera, and the iMovie software) I could have saved my firm a ton of money by simply shooting accident sites, and creating viable demonstrative evidence. I could have produced one of those poignant "day of the life" movies essential in good plaintiffs' case. I.e., the evidence that in the past had to be outsourced for big bucks. What a concept!
After Jobs' speech I checked into the latest gossip on the MacLaw listserv, and guess what everybody was talking about. Yup. Seattle's Herman Wacker suggested that Mac tools could also could be used to produce client education videos, something he found too expensive to outsource. "Now I am thinking I could self produce and publish it with iMovie," he proposed.
Daniel Dobkin of Great Neck, N.Y., suggested completing films as a Quicktime video, and then burning CDs.
"We all know juries virtually require graphics for effective litigation," concurred Victoria Herring, a Des Moines, Iowa solo. "And the main dividing line is cost and price. If a solo with a Mac can do a good product, and display it via a Mac and CD in the courtroom, that solo can be as good as any humongous law firm," she said. "I think we should spread this news to our litigating friends," says Herring.
"There's a whole untapped market once they open their eyes to the possibilility that they can add a Mac, etc. to their office equipment and be more efficient," she concludes.