RealTime IT News

Apple Rings in 'Year of the Notebook'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs says his company is marking 2003 as the official "Year of the Notebook."

"Many users are going to wonder why they even need a desktop computer anymore," Jobs said at this year's winter classic Macworld Conference and Expo here.

Always a crowd pleaser, the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker Tuesday unveiled a host of hardware and software improvements to its arsenal including two new wireless Titanium PowerBooks as well as an Apple-specific browser, bundled Digital Hub software, and their version of Microsoft Power Point.

The biggest response came from the PowerBooks - one 17" with a wide-screen display and a sub-size 12" version. Both are loaded with wireless capabilities including 802.11g and Bluetooth. The large version boasts a 1440 x 900 screen weighing 6.8 pounds with an Aluminum alloy exterior. The wide-screen runs over a 1GHz G4 processor with 1MB L3 cache and a NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go graphics chip with Bluetooth and 802.11g capabilities as well as both FireWire 400 and FireWire 800. The units are expected to ship in February starting at $3299.

The smaller version starts shipping in two weeks starting at $1799 with a 867MHz G4 Combo Drive but can be bumped up to order with a Super Drive starting at $1999.

Both laptops also come with a backlit keyboard that automatically senses when the lights go dim.

"Two years ago we unveiled the Titanium PowerBook and it immediately became 'the' lust object," Jobs said. "No one has caught up with it in two years. I can't imagine what they are going to do now."

The company is standing firm on its OS X v10.2 or "Jaguar" platform. Jobs said all new Macs would only boot from the newest operating system. The company introduced X11, the common windowing environment and open source XFree86 project for UNIX operating systems, for Mac OS X. The downloadable software lets X11-based applications run side-by-side with native Mac OS X applications on the same desktop.

Jobs also built on his "digital hub" concept with improvements to Apple's iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD products. The company has upgraded each to version 2 or 3 and is making them available as a four-part bundle Apple calls "iLife." The set can be either downloaded or purchased in stores for $49.

"We are going to do for the digital creation what Microsoft did for the office suite productivity," Jobs said.

The company also released a consumer version of its popular Final Cut Pro video editing software. But instead of charging $999, Apple released Final Cut Express with the same interface and a different set of bells and whistles for $299.

"You can make this stuff. You can send DVDs to your friends and this is better than anything coming out of Hollywood," Jobs squealed in praise of his simple format software.

In its game of one-upsmanship with the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant, Apple released its own version of Microsoft's popular slideshow application - PowerPoint with what it calls Keynote.

The presentation software will retail for $99 and includes Fully anti-aliased fonts, full alpha channel graphics, the ability to re-size and rotate images and supports all graphics standards like PDF, TIFF, JPEG and PSD.

Jobs revealed he had been secretly beta testing the platform last year and used it in Every Macworld Keynote in 2002.

Sales-wise, Jobs said his company was in good shape saying Apple will report $148 million in store revenues between October and December. At least 50 percent of visitors to the 51 Apple stores were what Jobs calls "Switchers," people who use Windows that are jumping over to the Macintosh platform.