Apple Springs on Updated iMacs

Apple Computer revealed its spring lineup of iMac models Tuesday on the heels of announcing improvements to its G4 PowerPC computers and its new line of Power Books announced last month at Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

The two new iMacs are the same physical design as prior models, with floating flat monitor panels and white, clear casing. But according to Apple, the big changes are in processor speed, increased video memory, a faster super drive, and 802.11g wireless connectivity.

The other feature that Apple is pinpointing as unique is a significant drop in price, as well as price drops in its two recent eMac models, which cumulatively cover a retail market span of between $999, for the more basic of the two eMacs, to $1,799 for the high-end iMac version.

Apple’s repricing strategy is being seen by analysts as an effort to stay in step with PC competitors who have all made significant price reductions in inventory over the past year.

According to Apple’s Greg Joswiak, vice president of hardware product marketing, Apple’s new simplified product line of iMacs are faster, more affordable, and geared toward users who are interested in high-end digital functionality as well as PC options that conform to budgetary constraints.

Apple first introduced its 17-inch iMac in July 2002, and according to Joswiak, it has been a “gigantic hit for Apple.”

“Today’s new models signify a giant leap forward for Apple by making the 17-inch Super Drive and the 15-inch Combo Drive more functional and affordable, said Joswiak. “We’ve always been about offering a better value than anybody else can offer in any market.”

Both new iMac models include Apple’s newest operating system Mac OS X “Jaguar,” in addition to Apple’s iLife application suite for creating and storing digital music, photos, and movies. The 17-inch iMac comes with a faster Super Drive for playing and burning CDs and DVDs.

Each of the new iMac’s also include Quicken 2003 Deluxe, Microsoft Office v.X Test Drive, and World Book 2003 Edition.

The high-end 17-inch iMac model, which is being retailed for $200 less than
its former version, comes with 1 GHz PowerPC G4 processor and 133 MHz
system; 256MB of Double Data Rate memory; a NVIDIA GeForce4 MX graphics
processor with 64MB video memory; and AirPort Extreme based on the 802.11g
standard for wireless networking.

Apple’s new iSync software is also included in the 17-inch iMac, so users can synchronize address books and calendars with Bluetooth-capable cell phones, the company said.

The 15-inch flat panel iMac, which retails for around $600 less than the 17-inch version and $200 less than its predecessor, comes with an 800 MHz PowerPC G4 processor with Velocity Engine; a 32x Combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW optical drive; a NVIDIA GeForce2 MX graphics processor with 32MB video memory; 256MB of system memory; internal support for AirPort wireless networking; a 60GB Ultra ATA hard drive; and Apple Pro Speakers.

The two new iMacs models also come with FireWire 400 and five USB ports for connecting to digital devices such as digital cameras, DV camcorders, and iPods.

Apple’s two eMacs, which it says are geared toward the educational market and consumer crossovers, have also dropped in price from $1499 to $1299 for the more high-end of the two 17-inch models, which comes with 800 MHz PowerPC G4 processor and a NVIDIA GeForce2 MX graphics processor.

The second of the two eMacs, which comes with a 700 MHz PowerPC G4 processor, has dropped from $1,099 to a suggested retail price of $999.

All four models are currently available for retail nationwide, the company

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