A spry Steve Jobs made a triumphant return Wednesday at Apple's (AAPL) "It's Only Rock and Roll" event in San Francisco to a rapturous reception from several hundred reporters and industry figures in the audience and an untold number following the event on the web.
There was no major product announcement. And the much-rumored unveiling of the Beatles catalog on iTunes didn't happen, just as we reported it wouldn't. But the mere appearance of an energetic Jobs at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts sent the audience into a frenzy.
"I'm very happy to be here today with you all," Jobs said to applause, according to the Engadget live-blog of the event. "As some of you know, about five months ago I had a liver transplant, so I now have the liver of a mid-20's person who died in a car crash. I wouldn't be here without such generosity. I hope all of us can be as generous and become organ donors."
"So," Jobs added, "I'm vertical, I'm back, I'm getting to work with our teams to come up with some great new products."
With that, Jobs introduced a series of improvements to the iPhone, iTunes and iPod Touch. Using the Grateful Dead's "American Beauty" as an example, Jobs showcased the expanded album materials, including lyrics and photos, that will be available on the iTunes music store.
After Jobs' appearance, Apple's Senior VP of products Phil Schiller took the stage to announce new price points for iPods, the Touch model in particular.
"We learned something a few years back in the iPod business," Schiller said. "We asked engineering to get the costs down -- when we did that, the sales doubled. We learned that $199 is a magic price point... so that's what we're going to do with the iPod Touch."
Referring to the Touch, Schiller said: "8GB [for] $199, at $299 we're doubling the memory... and at $399 we're doubling to 64GB."
And in a development that sparked a near mass-fainting episode in the hall, Schiller announced a new and improved iPod Nano that will come equipped with a camera in the back.
Finally, Jobs reappeared and introduced the pop star Norah Jones, who serenaded the crowd out, as is custom for these Apple "events."
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A triumphant Steve Jobs returns to work, stage, pulpit