In a hoarse voice, he said he had received the liver of a 20-year-old who had died in a car accident.
"I wouldn't be here without such generosity," Jobs said of his health struggles, before moving on to announce upgrades to the technology of the company's wildly popular family of iPods, including the introduction of a much-anticipated video camera in iPod Nano.
His voice gaining strength as he started talking shop, Jobs gave an overview of the company's accomplishments, highlighting that 30 million iPhones have been sold and 75,000 applications are in the App store. Since its launch a year ago, he said users have downloaded 1.8 billion apps from the store.
He said the company will release a free update to the iPhone operating system that will be available for download today.
iTunes' Global Expansion
Moving on to music, Jobs said that iTunes is now in 23 countries, with 100 million credit card accounts.
Announcing iTunes 9, he said the updated and newly designed program allows users more control over what they synch with iPods and iPhones and does a better job of organizing applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It also improves music-sharing by letting five computers on the same network share music and video content.
Although he briefly ceded the stage to Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, who announced the iPod updates, Jobs returned to the microphone to unveil one more feature: a highly-anticipated video camera.
Jobs said the video camera would be built into the iPod Nano. He also said the new Nano, which will be available in 9 colors, will have a larger 2.2-inch display, a built-in FM radio, a video recorder and a pedometer. The 8 gigabyte versions will retail for $149 and the 16 GB will sell for $179.
After playing an ad for the new Nano, Jobs welcomed singer/songwriter Norah Jones onstage to perform her hit song "Come Away With Me."
Apple Updates iPods, Reduces Prices
As expected, the company also unveiled updates to the popular iPod Touch model.
Schiller said Apple had reduced the price of the 8 GB iPod Touch from $229 to $199. He also announced price reductions for the higher capacity iPod Touch models.
The iPod Classic, he said, was getting a capacity boost from 120 GB to 160 GB, but with no price change. He also announced new colors for the iPod shuffle: Black, silver, pink, green and blue shuffles will retail for $59. A special stainless steel version will sell for $99.
Rob Enderle, an independent technology analyst, thought Jobs' attendance was the best news that could have come out of the event.
"I really thought the big news was that he was able to get through a long program," he said, adding that Jobs looked full of energy and not as thin as he expected. "It's much more important that Apple gets its CEO back than any single product."
Noting that shares in Apple briefly hit a 52-week high of $174.47 in afternoon trading and then fell to close at $171.14, or $1.79 below Tuesday's closing, Enderle said, "The market's being a little more critical and short-sighted than it should be."
Enderle thought the drop in stock price might have reflected disappointment that Apple didn't unveil any breakthrough devices today.
He said some thought the company might announce or tease the so-called "iPad," a much-buzzed-about, but as yet unconfirmed, touch-screen tablet.
Given Apple's dominance, he said the products the company did announce just needed to be "good enough," and the updates released today accomplished that.
The addition of the video camera to the Nano, he said, puts pressure on Cisco, maker of the Flip, a similarly small handheld video camera. It also makes the Nano more competitive with Microsoft's refreshed Zune mp3 player.
Apple Well-Positioned to Maintain Market Dominance
Ben Bajarin, director of consumer technology for technology consulting firm Creative Strategies, Inc., agreed that the event solidified Apple's market dominance, but he didn't think Jobs' appearance had too much of an effect on the company's share price.
"I think the overall point was -- and they've demonstrated this over time -- his surrounding cast is very capable of moving Apple forward in a direction that's good for the company, consumers and investors. But, obviously, he is the CEO. We shouldn't expect him to not show up at an event," Bajarin said.
Bajarin added that Jobs' presence was meant to emphasize his health, his engagement with the company and the importance of the iPod line to Apple's business.
The new camera-enabled Nano and $199 iPod Touch bodes well for the company, he said, and he expects to see the company's numbers rise as it moves into the fourth quarter.