Jobs Thanks Organ Donor, Reveals Flip-Like Video Camera For Apple IPod

iPod video

"I'm very happy to be here today with you all. As some of you know, about five months ago I had a liver transplant. I now have the liver of a mid-20s person who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate their organs. I am alive because of their generosity," Jobs said, according to reports from Apple's "Rock 'n' Roll" event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

"So, I'm vertical, I'm back at Apple and loving every minute of it, and working with some talented teams to come up with some great products for the future. It's wonderful," he added.

Jobs and Apple executives talked up several new products and services for the iPod, iPhone and iTunes music store, and confirmed price cuts for the iPod Touch and iPod Nano that had been reported earlier Wednesday.

But the Cupertino, Calif.-based company saved probably the biggest product news for last. Just prior to giving the stage over to musical guest Norah Jones, Jobs announced that video cameras and microphones will be built into Apple's iPod Nano products. Jobs cited the "exploding" popularity of small, ultraportable digital camcorders such as Cisco Systems' $149 4-GB Flip, but pledged that Apple's video camera for the iPod Nano would be "free" by dint of being built into an existing 8-GB device at a lowered price.

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Missing from the presentation was any hint of a tablet PC-type device of the sort that Apple has been rumored to be developing to compete in the rapidly growing netbook market.

Instead, as with previous fall product events in San Francisco, Wednesday's proceedings focused mostly on the music. News for Apple fans included the release of iTunes 9, which has an improved automated playlist builder called Genius Mixes for users of the online music retail store. Jobs prefaced that announcement by claiming that iTunes is now the "No. 1 music retailer in the world" with sales of 8.5 billion songs.

Apple also added some new ringtones from major recording labels for the iPhone, accessible through iTunes. The online store has also been given a layout redesign, Jobs said, as well as a simpler application management interface that also has been implemented for other Apple products such as the iPhone and the company's iPhoto software.

All very nice -- but notwithstanding the Nano video revelation and some other news such as the release of version 3.1 of the iPhone operating system, the biggest takeaway from the Apple event was almost certainly the presence of Steve Jobs himself.

The Apple chief came under fire for a lack of transparency about his medical condition during a long leave of absence from the company that was filled with rumor and recriminations from the tech media and the financial press. Jobs' candor about his illness and subsequent liver transplant at the start of Wednesday's product showcase may put some of that criticism to rest.